On a mostly sunny day plateauing around 20F, the Tour of Anchorage got underway in Anchorage, Alaska Sunday. James Southam and Holly Brooks both comfortably took first place among a large field of local skiers and other masters from around the country. This year’s race was the last in a series for The 2009 National Masters Championships, which also included a 10K classic race and a 3×3 sprint relay.
Southam, just back from World Champs in Liberec, skied with local skiers Mark Iverson and Anders Haugen before breaking with 15K to go. Haugen suffered a bonk and fell back to 11th while APU coach Dylan Watts took his place for third. Local master Seth Downs showed his true talent as a distance skier taking fourth place, while Fairbanks resident Tyson Flaharty beat ex-pro and local closet case Rob Whitney by four seconds, who took a surprising sixth.
Coming off of basic “weight training” during his current job as a fire fighter, Whitney started conservatively and then moved up to the chase pack only to shout taunts at the other skiers and coach them on how to lead a pack. With local recreational clubs on the rise, this kind of action is becoming more common in the Anchorage area.
While the presence of National Master’s competitors fleshed out subsequent chase packs with exciting racing action, the majority of the support on the trail was for local APU coach and women’s winner Holly Brooks. “Go Holly” signs lined the skate track starting around the midway point and continued all the way to the last climb at Kincaid. Unwilling to wait for another sprint finish, Brooks skied with APU skier Kate Arduser until the last 7K when she decided to make a break for it. She won by a comfortable minute and thirty seconds, with a time of 2:28:59.9.
Former Olympian Rachel Steer took third place with a time of 2:33, followed by UAA skiers Amy Glen and Steffi Hiemer. Anchorage newcomer Natalie Dawson took 6th place with a time of 2:44.
Other performances of note include Jacob Remington and Cheryl Dubois winning the 40K free, and Kyle Bernhart and Kimberly Del Frate winning the 25K free.