Star runner Prosser dies at age 31

Laird Prosser, a track and cross-country star at Dimond High who still owns the Cook Inlet Conference record at 800 meters and whose eight-year-old record in Seward's Lost Lake Breath of Life race remains untouched, died at age 31 last week in Seattle from complications of diabetes.

A celebration of life is set for 4 p.m. Tuesday at the Tanglewoods Country Club.

"I guess the thing I remember most (is) that even from a very young age he truly loved to run," sister Brandy Bland said in an e-mail. "But he was not just about running and records, but sportsmanship toward others."

Prosser died in his sleep sometime Monday, Bland said. Word of his death shocked Anchorage's running community.

"I'm completely shattered," said John Clark, who coached Prosser at Dimond and later become close friends with him. "Passing the news on to his other very close friends has been difficult."

Prosser won five state track titles and one state cross-country running championship and was invincible his senior season at Dimond. In 1994-95, he won the state cross-country title in the fall, and in the spring he swept the distance races at the state track meet, winning the 3,200, the 1,600 and the 800.

He won the 1,600, one of the final races of the meet, in thrilling fashion, with a flair still remembered by track fans.


Prosser trailed at the halfway mark, but with 300 meters to go he blew past leader Mike Israel of Wasilla. Racing for the finish line, his challengers in pursuit, he turned to a frenzied crowd of Dimond fans seated on bleachers near the back straightaway of the Palmer High track.

And then he waved to them.

"I was just in a pretty good mood," Prosser said after the race.

Prosser competed at the University of Oregon for four years and later helped coach distance runners at Dimond as an assistant to Clark.

In 2005, a nagging toothache sent Prosser to a doctor. "They ran some blood work because he hadn't been feeling well for some time," Bland wrote. "That was when he was finally diagnosed with diabetes."

Bland said the diagnosis answered questions for her brother, who couldn't figure out why his running had been suffering.

Prosser remains in at least two record books. His time of 1 hour, 37 minutes, 13 seconds remains the standard to beat in the 16-mile Lost Lake race, which draws hundreds of runners every year; and his time of 1:55.3 is still the 800-meter time to beat in the Cook Inlet Conference.

Prosser and wife Karen Williams moved to Seattle from Anchorage last year, so she could complete her degree at the University of Washington, Bland said.

Clark was in Portland on Saturday for a gathering of friends who knew Prosser from the University of Oregon, Anchorage or both.

"There are so many special people I got to work with over 20 years of coaching, but Laird really was exceptional," Clark said. "Our relationship as coach/athlete and then later as peers was very unique.

"Laird has such a positive impact on many people."

Find Beth Bragg online at or call 257-4309.