Although I've had a good time sniffing around the Chugach on my own and finding fun objectives that regularly kick my ass, local beta is helpful for finding cool stuff. A new friend of mine who's been around awhile and regularly gets after it with equally ambitious characters gave me a fun idea recently that I completed a couple of weeks ago.
"The best race pace is a suicide pace and today is a good day to die."
- Steve Prefontaine
I've been waiting for the Matanuska Peak Challenge mountain running race all season. It's unique in our series of mountain races up here in that it's long and hard. Most of our races, aside from the more typical trail races, are uphill affairs and generally under an hour. So, Mat Peak is special since the winners come in around 3 hours and the vertical gain is nearly 9,000 feet. Additionally, it doesn't end at the top. Nine thousand feet of descending greet competitors before the finish. The event requires attention to both smart pacing and nutrition/hydration, concerns absent in shorter events. I love these aspects of the game.
The weather here in Alaska seems to finally be coming around this summer and my exploration of the Chugach front range peaks continues in earnest. These mountains are not particularly high nor rugged but what they lack in scale they make up for some of the most pleasant ridge cruising to be found anywhere.
Unlike cycling, the equipment end of the running game is kind of boring. Manufacturers do their best to convince us we "need" certain gear to be effective while engaging in foot travel but, really, it's a pretty Spartan activity. The one piece of gear we can't do without, however, is foot wear. The barefoot running movement notwithstanding, shoes provide runners an opportunity to geek out.
With the high ridges of the front range above Anchorage finally free of most of this winter's ample snow dump, I've been eye-balling the maps for some good ridge running. I found out this past weekend that although the terrain looks cruiser from town, the ridge lines can be quite technical. On top of that, the Chugach is not known for it's alpine rock quality. Shit, people say the Tetons are chossy. You have no idea!