The Crow Pass Crossing was supposed to be the big race of the summer for 22-year-old Tracen Knopp. He focused his training on the marathon-length wilderness run, but his race ended when he injured his knee while descending 3,550-foot Crow Pass early in the race.
That was on July 24. A week later, the knee felt good enough for another race, so Knopp competed in his first ultra-run — the Resurrection Pass 50, a 50-mile race from Copper Landing to Hope on the Resurrection Trail.
“That’s for sure the longest I’ve ever run,” the Colony High graduate said.
And now he’s in the record book.
Knopp was among three mountain and trail runners who broke course records in two different races over the weekend, while a 19-year-old from Anchorage tallied a pair of top-8 finishes at the Youth Skyrunning World Championships in Italy.
Nowelle Spencer led the United States in a pair of women’s races in Italy, placing fifth in the sky race and eighth in the vertical race in her division.
Closer to home, Knopp and Meg Inokuma set course records in the 50-mile Resurrection Pass trail run and Scott Patterson and Sophia Laukli set course records in the Alyeska Cirque mountain race in Girdwood.
At Resurrection Pass, Knopp finished in 6 hours, 9 minutes, 16 seconds. He broke the all-time course record of 6:10 set by Juneau’s Geoff Roes in 2007.
Inokuma finished second overall and tops among women in 7:28:28 to surpass the all-time record of 7:59:44 set by Anchorage’s Julie Udchachon in 2004.
On the same day at Alyeska, Patterson and Laukli set course records in the grueling Alyeska Circque, which goes from the bottom of Mount Alyeska to the top and back again. The race is 5.9 miles long with 3,890 of elevation gain.
Patterson, an Olympic cross-country skier, finished in 1:05:27 for his second big victory in two weekends — the week before at Crow Pass, he crushed the course record by more than four minutes.
As was the case at Resurrection Pass, Roes was the runner whose record fell. One of Alaska’s all-time great ultrarunners, Roes still owns the Resurrection Pass 100-mile record of 17:33, set in 2008. No one has ever come close to that mark.
This year’s winner, Lara Zoeller, finished in 23:49:17 and led a 1-2 finish by women in the round-trip race from Hope to Cooper Landing and back. (The women’s all-time record is Laura McDonough’s 21:51 in 2011.)
Teri Buck finished second in 25:53:35, and Tony Covarrubias placed third overall and first among men in 25:53:36.
There have been two course modifications over the years at Resurrection Pass. The most recent, in 2013, put the 50-miler entirely on trails — no dirt or paved roads — and put all but 4 miles of the 100-miler entirely on trail.
This year’s Alyeska Cirque also saw a course change. It was rerouted to bypass a section late in the descent where there are ropes to help hikers keep their balance on the steep slope. The change added three-tenths of a mile to the total distance, making both of this year’s winning times automatic course records.
Patterson took the overall win in 1:05:27 and Laukli topped the women in 1:14:55. Patterson beat Lars Arneson by more than two minutes and Laukli beat Giselle Slotboom by more than three minutes.
The previous fastest time in the four-year-old race came in 2018 from Colorado’s Ryan Phebus, who clocked 1:04:35 that, followed closely by Patterson in 1:04:58.
Laukli, a U.S Ski Team member from Maine who is spending the summer in Alaska, surpassed the previous women’s fastest time — Jessica Yeaton’s 1:17:50 from 2018.
A field of 365 runners took on the Alyeska challenge, part of the national Cirque Series, a series of six races at ski resorts in Alaska, Utah, Wyoming and Colorado. At Resurrection Pass, a field of 69 runners competed. Among the 19 who started the 100-miler, nine finished.
Knopp was a late entry in the 50-mile race. He dropped out of Crow Pass after he hyperextended his knee while transitioning from a snow patch to shale, but within a couple of days the knee felt fine and he was running again. So he looked for a race to enter.
“I knew I was in good shape and wanted to get in something big,” he said.
The late entry fee for the Alyeska race was out of his price range, but the price was right for Resurrection Pass, which asks for a donation in lieu of an entry fee. And so he entered his first ultra-marathon.
Knopp looked up the course record before the race and thought he might be able to challenge it if things went well, but that wasn’t his main concern.
“The first goal was to make it the finish line,” he said. “I was scared I was going to blow up all the way (until) a mile before the finish.”
At a checkpoint 10 miles before the finish line, Knopp checked his watch. Roes’ record seemed attainable.
“I thought, I just have to run a certain pace for the next 10 miles and I’ll get it for sure, so I ran faster than that,” he said. “I definitely had (the record) in mind for last the half-hour.”
In Italy, Nowelle Spence
r took on back-to-back challenges in Youth B women’s division at the Youth Skyrunning World Championships.
In the Vertical race — 3,389 feet of climbing in 2.3 miles — she finished eighth in 57:41, well off the winning pace of 50:08 recorded by Spain’s Moana Kehres and about 2.5 minutes off the bronze medal pace of 55:12.
In the Sky race — 4,265 feet of elevation in 10 miles — she was fifth in 2:19:51. Kehres was the winner in in 2:09:03. The race was held in howling winds that led officials to shorten the race by 4 miles.
“Got fancy Italian sparkling water up my nose mid race, almost got blown off multiple cliffs, ended with bloody knees, but still managed have fun with a great team while galavanting through the peaks,” Spencer told U.S. Skyrunning.
100 miles (overall results)
1) Lara Zoeller 23:49:17; 2) Teri Buck 25:53:35; 3) Tony Covarrubias 25:53:36; 4) Laura McDonough 26:04:23; 5) Eric Thomason 28:51:00; 6) Dustin Glazier 29:36:22; 7) Kate Arnold 30:08:24; 8) Josh Marshall 30:50:41; 9) Gary Dudney 30:58:42.
50 miles (overall results)
1) Tracen Knopp 6:09:16; 2) Meg Inokuma 7:28:28; 3) Miles Raney 7:37:43; 4) Shauna Severson 8:34:05; 5) Brian Glaspell 8:41:43; 6) Joe Davis 8:46:56; 7) Rachael Gano 8:53:01; 8) April McAnly 9:26:47; 9) Peter Flynn 9:45:45; 10) Martins Onskulis 9:49:52; 11) Sarah Matula 10:00:06; 12) Larry Tews 10:13:51; 13) Sam Snyder 10:42:45; 14) Melanee Stiassny 10:45:59; 15) Christy Youngblood 10:59:11; 16) Ben LaVigueur 11:00:10; 17) Michael McGuire 11:21:44; 18) Jenny Weis 11:22:51; 19) Greg Stocker 11:27:31; 20) Kayla Munday 11:30:08; 21) Clare Shea 11:30:53; 22) Jess Sedivy Gunderson 11:34:04; 23) Tammy Weaver 11:51:06; 24) Brad Jessop 11:59:01; 25) Taylor Lindsey 12:04:38; 26) Sondra Stonecipher 12:14:06; 27) Ray Hafen 12:29:31; 28) Dean Denter 12:37:2714; 29) Jen Novobilski 12:37:59; 30) Marcelle Roemmich 12:38:00; 31) Brian Burns 12:50:27; 32) James Bunch 12:56:55; 33) Jeff Pettett 13:16:59; 34) Cody Bjorklund 13:35:07; 35) Michael Miller 13:35:07; 36) Brett Johnson 13:49:13; 37) Amanda Day 14:05:01; 38) Cole Grigg 14:05:01; 39) Chris Davis 14:05:02; 40) Heather Velazquez 14:05:02; 41) Tony Gillham 14:17:17; 42) Andy Newman 14:17:20; 43) Carey Quiring 14:18:34; 44) Robert McPherson 14:58:12; 45) Julia Jones 17:04:25; 46) Nicole Cleary 17:04:25; 47) Logan Platz 19:21:00; 48) Chris Morhain 19:21:00.
5.9 miles, 3,890 feet gain)
1. Patterson, Scott 1:05:27; 2) Arneson, Lars 1:07:43, 3) Zink, Simon 1:09:25; 4) Johnson, Erik 1:11:51; 5) Earnhart, Michael 1:12:34, 6) Turney, Taylor 1:12:48, 7) Gates, Rickey 1:13:49, 8) Walsh, Jacob 1:14:01, 9) Hecht, Galen 1:14:34, 10) Roenning, Sigurd 1:14:45, 11) Hendry, Sam 1:15:41, 12) Ogden, Ben 1:16:12,…