Turnagain Arm run earns $4,000 for UAA ski team

200 local runners lined up on May 25th to race for your UAA Seawolf ski team.

No more than 200 people were allowed to race, a rule set by the State Park.

Running veterans Matias Saari and Najeeby Quinn won the 8-mile battle for the 13th annual Turnagain Arm Trailhead race.

Former UAA skier Erik Strabel still holds the race record, beating Matias time this year by 12 seconds. Strabel did not compete this year.

The race started at the Potter Trailhead and ended at the Rainbow Valley Trailhead, where Saari, a Mount Marathon winner, hit the finish line in just 52:32.

For the women, Quinn completed the race in 1:03:01, with UAA’s own All-American skier Jaime Bronga on her heels with a time of 1:09:25.

Bronga was not the only ski team athlete racing to support her program. She was joined by Kelsey Coolidge and Davis Dunlap, as well as others who chose to volunteer rather than race.

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Quinn, who has also won the Mayors Marathon, became the new women’s record holder.

This race however, is not about the prize at the other side of the tape, but rather is about supporting the UAA Ski team. The 20-dollar registration fee all 200 runners paid will go toward scholarships, new uniforms and banquets. In total the UAA ski team legacy fund will earn 4,000 dollars from this year’s proceeds.

“The biggest benefit is good health from being outside running,” Said Trond Flagstad, UAA’s former head Ski Coach, who resigned at the end of the past season.

The event was started in 1999 by Nordic coaches Bill Spencer and Gregg Cress. This trail was chosen because the snow melts than most other trails around Anchorage. Originally, the race went from Potter to Rainbow, then reversed direction in 2006 due to Rainbow to Potter, due to a request from runners.  Now, the race alternates direction every other year.

This year the race ran in its original direction.

“It’s always the first trail race and mountain race of the season, so a lot of people come out to see how they are doing in their training and to get started with the trail running season,” Flagstad said.

This is the 13th year the race was scheduled, despite it only being the 12th year that it was run. “In 2004 we had to cancel the race because there was a bear feeding on a moose carcass right next to the trail,” said Flagstad

Often the racers spot moose or bears, either in training or during the race, but it is just something race officials have to monitor, according to Flagstad.

“It is calving season for the moose so the activity is pretty high,” he said.