Several Alaskans raise profiles in California running races

December 9, 2015

AllanSpanglerAlaska trail runners know Allan Spangler as a champion of the Crow Pass wilderness race, but beyond the state’s boundaries he has flown under the radar.

That is starting to change after Spangler placed ninth at the highly competitive North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships Saturday just north of San Francisco.

“Allan Spangler who?,” the website IRunFar wrote in its race report (IRunFar had omitted Spangler from its comprehensive preview article). “Well, if you hadn’t heard of Allan before today, put the guy on your watch list.”

Anchorage’s Spangler, who also notched eighth at The Rut 50K in Montana in September, finished the challenging course — it featured more than 9,000 feet of elevation gain — in 6 hours, 38 minutes and 41 seconds. The 29-year-old was among a tight group that battled between fifth and ninth place.

A year ago, Spangler picked up a coveted sponsorship with the outdoor retailer Salomon.

Zach Miller of Colorado dominated in 6:12:37 to win $10,000.

Meanwhile, Palmer’s Eric Strabel, known best as the former Mount Marathon record-holder, placed 18th in 7:08:42. Strabel had never raced farther than 29 miles before Saturday.

AJ Schirack of Wasilla was hampered early after bashing his knee in a fall but rallied to place 26th in 7:23:40.

In Sunday’s half marathon, Denali Strabel of Seward took second in 1:39:47.

On nearby trails a week earlier, Seward’s Cedar Bourgeois, a seven-time Mount Marathon champ, placed fourth at the 28-mile Quad Dipsea in 5:41. Bourgeois, who turned 40 a day later, won the event in 2011.

In yet another California race, Anchorage’s Anna Dalton, 26, had a tough go at the California International Marathon in Sacramento on Sunday.

Dalton, Alaska’s fastest female distance runner, struggled with a hamstring problem and finished in 3:05:14, good for 126th place. Dalton, who aspired to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, ran the first half in 1:24:44.

Finally, Kenai’s Jonah Theisen, a freshman on the Black Hills State University cross country team, was featured in the in-depth article “The Miracle in the Black Hills: A Coach, A Fallen Teammate and a Season for the Ages.”

Freshmen Levi Fried of Kodiak and Michael Marshall of Seward are also members of the team, which overcame tragedy to place 14th at the D2 NCAA Cross Country Championships last month.

– Matias Saari, ASHOF staff contributor