Mountain Running Legend
Bill Spencer has a knack for leaving his mark in permanent ink.
Once he sets a standard for greatness – something else he has a knack for – it seems to last forever.
In a race where Alaska legends are made, few names are etched more deeply in Mount Marathon lore than Spencer’s, whose records are recited with reverence every summer as the annual mountain run in Seward approaches.
For more than 40 years Spencer has owned records in the race that goes up and down the 3,022-foot mountain. In 1973, the year before his senior year at Service High, he blazed to the junior record in 24 minutes, 34 seconds. The next year he set the senior record,in 44:11, and in 1981 he broke his own mark with a run of 43:21, a standard that stood till 2013.
From 1989 until 2006, Spencer also owned the record in the Crow Pass Crossing, a 22.5-mile wilderness run through the Chugach Mountains. From 1989 until 1996, he owned the record at Bird Ridge, an uphill-only race that gains 3,500 feet.
He made his mark in multiple sports and in multiple ways. He was a member of the 1988 Olympic cross-country ski team, he coached the UAA nordic team for more than a decade, and as a former member of the U.S. Orienteering team, he can navigate just about any trail given a map and a compass.
And if there is no trail?
Spencer, a civil engineer, will build one. He has had a hand in designing and building several trails in and around Anchorage, including the Spencer Loop, one of the most popular trails on the Anchorage Hillside.
– Beth Bragg