As of Thursday morning, there was still no winner in the 31st annual Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic, the state’s premier wilderness race.
The race started Sunday on top of Thompson Pass north of Valdez and the finish is the Lakina River bridge at Mile 44.3 on the McCarthy Road.
This year’s route is a new one that has never been used in the Wilderness Classic, which rotates routes every three years. The route is a minimum of 140 miles, depending which way you go.
I don’t know how many racers started or how many remain. I did hear a rumor that the trio of former champs Tyler Johnson and Todd Kasteler of Anchorage and Danny Powers of Fairbanks had bailed out of the race and re-routed to Cordova.
Jeremy Pataky at Wrangell Mountains Center in McCarthy said the earliest possible prediction for the first people to finish was Wednesday night but heavy rain and abnormally deep snow in the mountains as a result of last winter’s heavy snowfall will likely slow racers down. The heavy rain has caused creeks and rivers to rise significantly, which could make pack rafting an adventure.
“I think the general expectation now is that today/night or tomorrow (probably the latter) are looking more likely,” Pataky wrote in an email Thursday morning.
Race organizer Luc Mehl said this year’s route wasn’t going to be a picnic and it appears he was right.
“It promises beautiful terrain but is likely to be very challenging due to thick brush, steep drainages, and unrunnable rivers,” Mehl wrote in describing the route on his web site.