Chena Hotsprings Run 2019

Nick Jannsen approaches the finish line of the Chena Hot Springs Run 'n Soak on Saturday at the Chena Hot Spring Resort. Laura Stickells/News-Miner

Peter Alden crossed the finish line of the 26th Chena Hot Springs Run ’n Soak on Saturday at the Chena Hot Springs Resort with a time of 1:16:07, good enough for first place out of the 26-runner field.

“I kept listening to see if I could hear him behind me,” said Alden, who distanced himself from Nick Jannsen at around mile three to take the lead. But Jannsen was quickly far too behind for Alden to hear footsteps, as he finished the 8 ½ mile course three minutes and 43 seconds behind the champion.

The run is the fifth race in Running Club North’s trail series and starts at Angel Rocks Trailhead. 

“The first three miles are literally uphill to the ridgetop, … It’s steep; it’s walking in a lot of cases for most people … then you are up and down along the ridge for about a mile and a half and then it starts dropping but there are still some serious ups and downs all the way to the finish,” said race director Keith Pollock who was getting ready to grill some burgers for the finishers.

“The uphill was really hard. I ran it with another runner,” said Alden after the race. “He and I were running really hard up the hill, pushing one another ... but he went the wrong way but I yelled at him and he got back on track.”

That runner was Jannsen.

“I just stepped off the trail briefly,” he said. “I don’t think I lost a whole lot of time and thankfully (Alden) gave a call so I got back on quickly. I don’t think I lost more than 15-20 seconds and then I never saw him again.”

The race was a homecoming for Alden who was a cross-country running and cross-country skiing athlete at UAF in the early ’90s. He currently lives in Seoul, South Korea, where he teaches chemistry.

“Every summer I come back, I try and run a race, but now that I have a family and am raising a family I haven’t had the time. But now that they have gotten a bit bigger I am hoping to get them into it … Hopefully I will try to run this one again. I will try to make it a summer tradition.”

Jannsen said the initial uphill took the biggest toll on him. “I haven’t run in two weeks so I was huffing and puffing. My legs felt weak ... I’m not in great shape right now.” 

The time off the silver medalist has taken off from running he has spent on a construction project but he hasn’t missed a trail race yet this season.

“I haven’t gotten any runs in between them, but I’ve shown up.”

Nelli Ballou finished in first place for the women and sixth place overall with a time of 1:32:50. Ballou’s biggest struggle came around three miles into the race around Angel Rocks when she encountered a group of hikers who yelled at her, “You’re almost there!”

“I just knew it wasn’t true,” she said five miles later after the finish.

Contact News-Miner sports writer Laura Stickells at 459-7530. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMsports.