It’s been almost two weeks since KMTA hosted our 2nd Annual Spencer Dash, and we are still riding high from the event’s success. Hosted in partnership with Chugach Adventures, the race followed the Spencer Glacier Overlook Trail and the path of the glacier’s recession over the last 100 years. With the weather in our favor, the glacier’s beauty was on full display throughout the event, leaving a lasting impression on everyone there.
The race weekend started with a team of KMTA volunteers and a few racers heading out to Spencer Glacier from the Portage Train Depot on Saturday afternoon to camp and set up the race course. This crew of overnight campers enjoyed pristine camping conditions with bluebird skies and ample time to explore the glacier and its surroundings. Some campers even found tent spots with a full frontal glacier view, while others brought pack rafts and took advantage of the opportunity to paddle around the massive icebergs in the glow of the sunset.
When the rest of the racers pulled in on the train the next day, the excitement in the atmosphere was palpable. We had a crowd of 70+ participants as diverse as the heritage area itself– from seasoned runners, to families with little kids, groups of friends, and everything in between. After a quick check in, welcome, and safety briefing, we drew a start line in the dirt and began the race with a very official, “ready, set, go!” The five mile course started at the Spencer Whistle Stop, continued past Spencer Lake to the end of the trail, and looped back to finish at the boat launch near Chugach Adventures Base Camp.
Not long after setting up the snack and SWAG table, our first finishers came in hot. David Huie, the top male finisher, completed the race with a time of 34:30, while Meredyth Richards, the top female finisher, completed in 36:25. Each received a gift card to the Bake Shop in addition to this year’s Spencer Dash tin camping mug. By far their best prizes though were their winners’ trophies– large chunks of glacial ice pulled from the lake and ceremoniously handed to them dripping wet and cold as…well ice. With big smiles and laughs, each held their trophies high over their heads and posed for some epic champion photos in front of the glacier.
The photo ops only became more fantastic as racers continued to cross the finish line. One brave soul ran into the freezing lake and sat down down in the water to cool off. Shortly after, another took it a step further, jumping into the lake and fully submerging herself as the whole crowd cheered. The fun times kept rolling as happy, tired racers made their way back to the Whistle Stop by foot or by hitching a ride on the Chugach Adventures bus. The air was buzzing with chattiness and laughter, and in that moment we all probably would’ve stayed a bit longer if we could have. But the train kept its schedule, and the whole crew boarded at the end of the day with full hearts and tired feet. The Spencer Dash was truly a dashing success, and we can’t wait for next year.
We’d like to give a special thanks to our volunteers, Chugach Adventures, and the Alaska Railroad for their incredible support and tireless efforts that went into making this race possible. We are so grateful for your partnership and to have you as a part of our heritage area community.