Skip to main Content

Patterson dominates, Strabel surprises in Turnagain Arm Trail Run

  • Author: Beth Bragg
  • Updated: May 3, 2018
  • Published May 3, 2018

Scott Patterson took care of business early and Denali Strabel got the job done at the last second Thursday evening as one of Alaska's summer sports seasons kicked off in almost wintry conditions.

Patterson and Strabel captured victories in the Turnagain Arm Trail Run, the first race of the season for trail and mountain runners.

Temperatures were in the 40s, the sun was little more than a rumor and the wind was brisk, but at least it was a tailwind.

This year's race followed the south-to-north route on the popular trail that parallels the Seward Highway, taking runners from the Rainbow Trailhead to the Potter Trailhead.

A stealth-like Strabel snuck up on Najeeby Quinn in the final 10 or 20 meters to grab her first victory in the 8-mile race, robbing Quinn of her ninth victory.

The two poured it on as they approached the finish line, with Strabel holding off Quinn for a five-second victory.

"God, you came out of nowhere, Denali," Quinn said as soon as she crossed the finish line.

A big climb challenged runners early, providing both Patterson and Quinn with an early advantage. Patterson was able to maintain his. Quinn wasn't.

Patterson, who made noise at February's Winter Olympics by posting some of the American men's best results in cross-country skiing, put his conditioning to good use on the hill.

He shed his pursuers and went on to finish with the second-fastest time ever on the Rainbow-to-Potter route. The race reverses directions every year.

Patterson's time of 49 minutes, 59 seconds, put him more than a minute ahead of record-holder Chad Trammell, who placed second in 51:03. Taylor Turney, a UAA track runner, was third in 52:17.

Trammel said that when he set the course record of 49:32 in 2016, Patterson stayed behind him going up the hill, allowing Trammel to surge ahead on the downhill.

"He took advantage of his strength this time and just crushed it," Trammel said.

Patterson, who spent the morning skiing at Glen Alps, said he knew he needed to capitalize on his hill-climbing ability.

"My strength is that first climb, so I put it out there," he said.

Trammel said he never saw Patterson again after the hill.

Quinn, a top mountain runner, knew she needed to make the most of her climbing ability to forge an early lead.

"Those girls know I suck at downhills," she said.

Strabel, who has a strong road racing background, knew that blistering the downhills and flats were her best shot at winning, so she didn't exhaust herself trying to keep up with Quinn on the uphill.

"I, like, walked up the first hill," Strabel said. "If I'm going to finish well, I've got to take the hill slow."

By the midway point at McHugh Creek, Strabel was fourth among woman. And in the final meters, only Quinn was ahead of her.

"I saw her and I passed her on the corner and it was so terrifying," Strabel said. "She turned it on and was like an animal."

Strabel was too, winning in 1:01:38, with Quinn was right behind in 1:01:43. Third place went to Darcy Dugan in 1:03:38.

The times by Strabel and Quinn are the fourth and fifth fastest women's times on the Rainbow-to-Potter route. Christy Marvin, who didn't race Thursday, set the record of 59:16 in 2016, when Quinn — who owns four of the six fastest times on the route — ran a personal-best 1:00:13.

Local news matters.

Support independent, local journalism in Alaska.