Spencer, Tejas highlight ’12 Class (Hall of Fame)

December 5, 2011
Alaska Sports Hall of Fame

The list of individuals making up the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2012 is short and sweet – Bill Spencer and Vern Tejas.

Those two members, along with a moment and an event, were announced as the next induction class at a press conference this morning.

Bill Spencer

Spencer, 55, was a renowned mountain runner and Olympic cross-country skier during his awesome athletic career that stretched from the 1970s through the 1990s.

Later he became a ski instructor, trail designer and the nordic ski coach at the University of Alaska Anchorage. He also became one of the best with an orienteering map.

Spencer’s claim to fame is being king of Mount Marathon in Seward. He won the grueling 3.5-mile, 3,022-foot up-and-down race a record 8 times. He also owns the junior and senior race records.

This year marked the 30th anniversary of his celebrated record of 43:23 set in 1981. It’s sort of like the holy grail of PRs in mountain running circles.

In 1987 he was national champion in the 50K race and also won the Great American Ski Chase series. The following year he competed at 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary with the U.S. Ski Team.

Vern Tejas

When it comes to mountain climbing, you don’t get any bigger than Tejas, 58.

He earned star status in 1988 when he became the first climber to compete a solo winter ascent of Mount McKinley, the tallest peak in North America at 20,230 feet.

But he truly became a legend this year when he completed a new world speed record of the Seven Summits, climbing the highest mountain on each of the seven continents within a 134-day period. The old mark of 136 days was set in 2008 by a Danish climber.

Tejas is the only person to have climbed each of the Seven Summits at least nine times, and has completed the Seven Summits twice during a one-year period. It’s supposed to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

In the moment category, the winner was the 2002 Top of the World Classic title by the University of Alaska Fairbanks men’s basketball team, which became the first NCAA D2 men’s team to win D1 tournament with consecutive victories over Wisconsin-Green Bay, Nebraska and Weber State.

In the event category, the winner was the prestigious Gold Medal Basketball Tournament in Juneau. It celebrated its 66th year in March.