• Spencer Dash 5 Mile Run June 9thSIGN UP
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This one-of-a-kind race highlights the beauty of the Spencer Glacier and history of the Alaska Railroad as runners retrace the glacier’s recession over the last 100 years. The glacier can only be accessed during the summer by a scenic rail trip that carries you to the Spencer Glacier Whistle Stop, about 10 miles up the Placer River Valley from Portage. The Alaska Railroad is an important part of Alaska’s and KMTA’s cultural heritage, and allows athletes to connect with that history as they travel to this event. The race itself is like a journey through time, offering a window into the past while witnessing the present geomorphology of a stunning but rapidly changing landscape.  

The Spencer Dash is about celebrating and enjoying the beauty of this wild place, honoring the historical contributions of local Alaskan industries, and reflecting about how to be responsible stewards of our public spaces.  

This race is a benefit for KMTA’s programming. While registration fees help cover the cost of hosting this race and the train tickets to get there, donations will go directly to helping us protect and share the history, culture, and wild landscape of Alaska’s only National Heritage Area. Proceeds could help expand equitable access to outdoor learning opportunities for Alaskan youth, or fund a community trail project. It could help restore natural habitat, foster inclusive outdoor recreation, or even support the preservation of a historical building. Our goal is to instill a pride of place and enduring stewardship ethic for the spaces we live and recreate in, like Spencer Glacier. Thank you for being a part of our living heritage! 

 

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The start of the race is only accessible by riding on the Alaska Railroad. The course will begin at the Spencer Whistle Stop of the Alaska Railroad and follow the Spencer Glacier Trail to Spencer Lake. From Spencer Lake participants will run the Spencer Glacier Overlook to the end of the trail and then turn around and race back to the Chugach Adventures Base Camp located at the boat launch for a total of 5 Miles.

Please note, we are a small community nonprofit and do our best to measure the mileage of our race courses accurately. However, we do not have professional grade race equipment to bring out to this remote race course, thus the actual race distance might be slightly over or under the approximated 5 miles. Just remember the goal of this event is to take in the beauty and have fun!

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Spencer Glacier, one of the whistlestops of the Alaska Railroad, was named for Edward A. Spencer, a timekeeper for the railroad. The year was 1905 when Spencer left camp at mile 55 late in the day without a lantern. He never returned. His body, travel pack, and papers were recovered from a crevasse one year after his disappearance. In 1909, the United States Geological Survey named the glacier in his memory.  

Today, Spencer Glacier towers above the iceberg-studded Spencer Lake and the surrounding recreational area, where visitors can kayak, hike, and camp. In the winter, visitors can reach the glacier via snow machine, fat tire bike, or other winter sports travel, but summer access is exclusively via railroad. The developed recreation area is a relatively new addition to the national forest, as the whistle stop was only completed in 2007. You can learn more about different ways to explore and experience the area here 

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REGISTRATION & RACE INFORMATION

JUNE 9TH, 2023 is Race Day!

Registration opens April 17th at 1 PM

This race is under permit Chugach National Forest.

LOCATION

Take the Alaska Railroad to the starting line of the race!   The cost of your ticket is included in your race registration fee.

All participants must depart from the Portage Train Depot (Mile 80.3 of the Seward Highway – Look for the small red-roofed building adjacent to the Seward Highway with a large parking lot; the railroad tracks are visible on the opposite, north side of the parking lot.)

DEPARTURE & RETURN OPTIONS

DEPARTURE:

The night before (June 8th) – Train departs the Portage Railroad Depot at 1:25 PM. Be at the train station at 1:15 PM. Participants that choose to go the day before will receive their tickets at the Spencer Glacier Whistle Stop the day of the race.These participants will camp at Spencer the night before. 

Day of (June 9th) – Train departs the Portage Railroad Depot at 1:25 PM. Be at the train station by 12:45 PM to check in, receive your ticket and bib from a race greeter.

RETURN:

Day of – Train departs from the Spencer Whistle Stop at 4:45 PM. Be at the train stop by 4:30 PM

All gear like jogging strollers, camping gear etc. can be taken to the cargo train. Please follow the signs at the Portage Depot.

All train tickets and travel for racers will be coordinated by KMTA.  Family and friends tickets can be coordinated via KMTA through the registration page, or directly via the Alaska Railroad. Questions can be directed to Rachel Blakeslee at rachelblakeslee@kmtacorridor.org

Please do not contact the Alaska Railroad with questions about this race.

BIB/TRAIN TICKET PICK UP

All Participants will park at the Portage Train Depot, Arriving at 12:45 PM to get Bibs.

Bib Pick-Up will take place at the Portage Depot the day before the race (If participants are overnighting at Spencer Glacier ) or the day of.

If leaving on the day before train please go to the Portage Depot to see a Chugach Adventures/KMTA representative for your bib packet. If departing on the day of the race, a Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm NHA representative will give you your bib packet.

COST

Early Bird Pricing Through April 26th

• $104 ($44 discounted train ticket plus $60 race registration fee)

No refunds will be given.

Pricing April 27th  – May 4th

• $114 ($44 discounted train ticket plus $70 race registration fee)

No refunds will be given.

Pricing May 5th – May 10th

$124 ($44 discounted train ticket plus $80 race registration fee)

No refunds will be given.

Registration closes two weeks before the race due to restrictions on ticketing with the Alaska Railroad.

BAG/GEAR DROP

Gear that you don’t want to carry during the race can be dropped in the Chugach Adventures Blue Van, or you can leave gear at the Whistlestop or you may also leave gear on the train as your seat will remain the same on your train ride back.

All gear that you are unable to carry on your person (e.g. jogging stroller) can go on the cargo train car . Please follow the signs which will direct you to the cargo area.

SNACKS & WATER

Please bring your own water source to minimize waste. You can refill your container using the jug of water we’ll have on site. After the race, snacks will be provided.

RACE COURSE

The start of the race is only accessible by riding on the Alaska Railroad. The course will begin at the Spencer Whistle Stop of the Alaska Railroad and follow the Spencer Glacier Trail to Spencer Lake. From Spencer Lake participants will run the Spencer Glacier Overlook to the end of the trail and then turn around and race back to the Chugach Adventures Base Camp located at the boat launch for a total of 5 Miles.

There is a 3:45 PM cutoff for the turnaround at the end of the trail (which is 1.5 Miles from the boat launch). All participants must be to the boat launch by 4 PM.

To return to the Whistle Spot participants may walk back to the Whistle Stop or wait for a shuttle provided by Chugach Adventures.

RACE FORMAT

All Participants will arrive at the Spencer Whistle Stop courtesy of the Alaska Railroad’s Glacier Discovery Train between 1:50 PM to 2 PM.

• 2:25 PM – One WAVE (ALL Participants) NOTE: Wave start time will be determined by the arrival time of the Glacier Discovery Train to the Spencer Whistle Train Stop. Race will commence approximately 25 minutes after arrival of the train to allow all Ranger led hikers, public hikers/campers to clear the area.

AGE LIMITS

The Spencer Glacier Dash is open to all participants over the age of 16. If you have a youth that would also like to participate, please contact us.

SAFETY

This race does take place in bear country so please bring some bear spray!

WEATHER

We hold this event in all weather. We follow the operational plans of both our partners (Chugach Adventures and the Alaska Railroad) to make determinations about potential weather-related cancelations. Please know though that weather-related cancelations are very rare. We are able to hold this event safely in both rainy and windy conditions. Refunds will not be provided should participants choose to opt out of the race due to less than ideal weather. Should the Alaska Railroad and/or Chugach Adventures cancel their operations during race day due to safety concerns, we will also cancel the Spencer Dash, and provide a full refund. 

FAMILY & FRIENDS

Your family and friends are invited to join you at the race, but they will need to purchase tickets at the regular price, which is $88 for adults and $44 for youth. During registration, you can choose a family/friend registration option. All ticket purchases will be handled by KMTA, so please avoid contacting the railroad directly. If you have any questions, please reach out to Blakeslee at rachelblakeslee@kmtacorridor.org.

OVERNIGHT CAMPING

• Train departs the Portage Railroad Depot at 1:25 PM on June 8th. Be at the train station at 1:15 PM. All gear that you are unable to carry on your person can go on the cargo train car. Please follow the signs which will direct you to the cargo area.

For your return to Portage all camping gear needs to be back to the Spencer Whistle Stop at 1:45 pm on June 9th, to be staged next to the offload area / where the sign is at. This means you should bring your gear with you when you make your way to the start line at the Whistle Stop on race day. 

SWAG

All participants will receive their choice of 1 custom swag item included with their registration fee  (either a custom hat or dry bag). Want a Spencer Glacier Dash t-shirt in addition to your race swag? Check out our Bonfire store!

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