Allie Ostrander is remarkable, phenomenal, astonishing — and frankly, really cutting into my stash of adjectives.
Look, a bunch of Alaska athletes delivered a bunch of jaw-dropping performances in 2015, but Ostrander left them all in her dust — which, come to think of it, pretty well nails her M.O.
And, really, enough with the surname already — even the abbreviated moniker of Allie O. for the young woman from Soldotna is superfluous. She's reached single-name status: Allie.
Anyhow, let's recap (settle in, we're going to be here awhile):
All Allie managed to do in 2015 was get recognized by the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame; break her state high school track records in the 1,600 meters and 3,200 meters; better a 25-year-old record on Mount Marathon in her senior women's race debut; win the junior women's title at the World Mountain Running Championships; win, as a Boise State freshman, the Mountain West and NCAA Division I West Region cross-country running titles and finish second at the Division I national championships, nearly becoming only the second freshman woman to seize that national title; become an All-American before her first semester of college was complete; and be named Mountain West Athlete of the Year, Freshman of the Year and first-team all-conference.
Evidently, the Mountain West does not award an Everything of the Year honor, or Allie would have added it to a trophy collection that, although she still is a teenager, is so plentiful she's in danger of looking like a hoarder.
A T-shirt Allie wore at the state track championships said it all:
I run like a girl
Run a little faster and you can too
And, yes, we did pump Allie's tires in our Year in Review of Alaska Sports in 2014. Yet her 2015 was even more impressive, so getting out the air hose again was unavoidable.
All of this would be a little easier to take if Allie was not smart (co-class valedictorian at Kenai Central), thoughtful, humble, generous and self-deprecating. Oh, and Allie's best friend is her sister Taylor (a Division III All-American), and she is a race organizer and also bakes. (I know; enough already, right?)
We can at least report that Allie is not perfect. She's a stone-cold, remorseless tree-killer. Here in our little corner of the typing factory, we probably clear-cut a forest with the amount of newsprint required to accommodate her accomplishments in the past year.
Moving on — it is the holiday break, so we don't think Allie won anything since the start of this report — we can confirm that there were some impressive feats in 2015 in the non-Allie category.
Dallas Seavey of Willow won the Iditarod for the second straight year and third time in four years, so it's beginning to look like he may be the real deal — dude is still in his 20s. His victory gave his family four consecutive wins — his dad, Mitch, won in 2013.
Even so, our award for most compelling Iditarod-related moment goes to Aliy Zirkle of Two Rivers. Hours after she crossed beneath the burled arch in Nome in fifth place, Zirkle competed in an arm-wrestling competition at the aptly named Breakers Bar. She promptly snapped the right arm of Grace Liu, an attorney from Fresno, California, and furnished an oddity in the history of Nome saloons: Silence.
"Everyone gasped,'' Liu told our intrepid men on the Iditarod/bar beat, Matt Tunseth and Marc Lester. "And you know it takes a lot to quiet a bar in Nome.''
Brent Sass of Eureka won the Yukon Quest sled dog race, one year after falling off his sled, smacking his head and suffering a concussion, so that was cool — the win, not the concussion.
Eric Quam and Scott Faeo won the Iron Dog, the world's longest snow machine race, in which about 300 of the 2,000 miles was contested on bare ground or ice.
Yeah, 2015 was a lousy snow year. The start of the Iditarod was moved to Fairbanks. Nordic skiers and mushers lamented conditions — constantly. The Tour of Anchorage nordic race was canceled.
Still, lack of snow turned the Iditarod Trail Invitational into a freeway for winning cyclist John Lackey, who knocked off 350 miles in a mere 1 day, 18 hours, 32 minutes, slaying the previous record by more than 10 hours.
Holly Brooks of Anchorage won the American Birkebeiner marathon nordic race for the second time. APU's Rosie Brennan bagged three titles at nordic nationals. Another one-name wonder —? Kikkan, a mere four-time Olympian — made news by announcing she would skip the World Cup nordic season because was pregnant with her first child.
Mount Marathon delivered eye-popping performances. Spain's Kilian Jornet, the world's best mountain runner, slashed 67 seconds off the men's record in his debut up and down the 3,022-foot beast in Seward. Emelie Forsberg of Spain, one of the best women's mountain runners in the world and Jornet's girlfriend, lopped 2:42 off Nancy Pease's 25-year-old women's standard. And Allie, the runner-up to Forsberg, topped Pease's mark by two seconds.
Big doings at UAA — the women's basketball team (29-2) was ranked No. 1 in the country before being upset in its opener at the West Region tournament it hosted. The volleyball team set a slew of team records in going 27-3. Michael Friess' running squads were status quo — they excelled, and he won what seemed like his 323rd Coach of the Year honor.
Anchorage's Zoe Hickel won a hockey gold medal with Team USA at the Women's World Championship, Casey Bailey of Anchorage became the 15th Alaskan to play in the NHL and Kris Oldham of Anchorage was picked in the NHL draft.
The Bixby Mob continued to rule at the Seward Silver Salmon Derby. Jerry Bixby won for the second time to give the Bixbys five wins — brother Bill has won twice and Jerry's wife, Loretta, has won once.
Anchorage's Young Ji won a championship at the World Series of Poker, pocketed $231,102 and gave Alaska a shout-out when his two pairs held up on the final hand: "907 Poker represent!''
Scott Patterson won the Crow Pass Crossing backcountry marathon for the third time in four years and posted the second-fastest time in history. Christy Marvin won the women's race even though she got a lousy night of "sleep'' in her tent near the race start because a vole kept trying to get inside her crib. That prompted our poet laureate Beth Bragg, who usually limits herself to puns alternately wonderful and groan-worthy, to dial up some verse:
Twas the night before Crow Pass
and all through the tent
Not a creature was stirring
except a rodent
Soldotna won the state medium-school football championship for the fourth straight year and ran its state-record winning streak to 39 games. West won the large-school title, under seventh-year coach Tim Davis, for the third time in six years.
The Alaska Aces did not qualify for the playoffs for the first time in their 12 ECHL seasons and became the league's first defending champion not to make the playoffs the following season. UAA endured a tough hockey season in 2014-15 too, though things have gone smoother this season. Those two clubs did make notable news — broadcaster Kurt Haider moved to the Aces after 19 seasons voicing UAA pucks and Aces assistant coach Louis Mass moved to UAA after eight seasons coaching Aces blueliners.
Coming full circle brings us back to more endurance athletes.
Allie's contemporary, Levi Thomet of Kodiak, matched her track feat by breaking state boys records in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters. And he finished runner-up among junior men at the World Mountain Running Championships.
David Johnston of Willow won the Across The Years Six-Day Race in Phoenix, covering more than 551 miles on a 1.05-mile loop course of dirt, dust and gravel. He endured hallucinations from lack of sleep, but was aided by his father, Frank, who served as his support team.
"I'd ask my dad, 'What am I doing? Which way do I go? How do I score points,'" Johnston recalled. "He'd say, 'You keep going this direction, son, and I'll see you again.' ''
Lael Wilcox of Anchorage won the women's title in the Tour Divide, a 2,745-mile off-road cycling race from Alberta to New Mexico — her journey of 17-plus days beat the old record by two days.
Chad Trammell of Anchorage won the World's Toughest Mudder, a 24-hour obstacle-course race in Las Vegas, covering 19 laps of a five-mile course that featured 21 obstacles a lap.
And Jeff Young, a construction worker from Anchorage, inspired many — particularly this old man — by winning the 55-59 age-group at the Boston Marathon and finishing second in his age group at the New York City Marathon. He ran personal bests in both races and lowered his personal record to an eye-popping 2:44:42.
After racing in New York, Young visited relatives in Florida and showed he's also world-class at post-race recovery.
"I'm going to lay on the beach every day and eat fried chicken and drink beer,'' Young said.
Words to live by.
We'd chronicle even more accomplishments by Alaskans in 2015, but we need to save some trees.
Besides, in the time it took to write this, Allie probably won something we need to report. She's as tough on trees as she is her competition.