FAIRBANKS — Nice weather, a firm, fast trail and a strong field of competitors made for a successful Tanana River Challenge on Saturday.

Fairbanks fat biker Kevin Brietenbach captured the overall title in the inaugural human-powered race from Nenana to Fairbanks, topping a field of more than 60 bikers, skiers and skijorers.

Breitenbach finished the 73-kilometer race on the Tanana River in 3 hours, 40 minutes to edge fellow Fairbanks biker Josh Spice by five minutes as cyclists claimed the top four spots in the race. Fairbanks fat bikers Tristan Herriott (3:56) and Ben Abbott (4:05) finishing third and fourth.

Erin Trochim, of Fairbanks, pulled by three dogs, was the first skijorer to reach the finish line at the Tanana Wayside, placing fifth overall with a time of 4:14. She edged fellow skijorer Ben Good, of North Pole, who finished sixth overall, by 19 minutes. Good was pulled by four dogs.

Jim Lokken, of Fairbanks, was the first skier to finish, placing seventh overall with a time of 4:35. Christina Truman, who won the womens’ ski division, wasn’t far behind with a time of 4:47 that placed her ninth overall.

Andrea Dubenezic, of Fairbank,s placed 16th overall to win the womens’ bike division in 5:15.

All 61 participants — 28 skiers, 27 bikers and 6 skijorers — who started the race finished it and weather and trail conditions couldn’t have been much better, race organizer Max Kaufman said. The temperature for the 8:10 a.m. start in Nenana was about 10 degrees with a light, westerly wind and barely climbed above freezing by the time the last finisher reached the finish line early in the evening.

“The weather was fantastic,” Kaufman, who was neck and neck with Lokken for the first 50K before bonking, said. “The snow never really melted much. The warm day preceding and the cool night before hand really helped to firm up the trail.

“The trail was a little punchy and soft early on and that kind of slowed the bikers down but the course just got better and better as we got closer to town.”

For Breitenbach, the victory was a little bit of redemption after he was forced to pull out of the White Mountains 100 a week earlier when his hydration pack sprung an unrepairable leak and soaked him. Breitenbach was running neck and neck with winner Tim Bernston and runner-up John Lackey when he pulled out of the race.

The Tanana River Challenge is a resurrected version of the  Equinox Ultra Ski Challenge, which was held from 1997-2006, with the addition of biking and skijoring divisions.

The race started on the Tanana River in Nenana between the Nenana Ice Classic tripod and the Alaska Railroad bridge. There were four aid stations along the route that were manned by volunteers.

A groomer on a snowmachine dragged the race course with a chain-link fence drag the day before the race and a “mystery groomer” groomed the last 30K of the course on Saturday, which was a pleasant surprise for race participants, Kaufman said.

 Race organizers offered a bus shuttle that transported 34 racers to the starting line in Nenana, which minimized the number of car shuttles necessary, Kaufman said. Goldstream Sports donated the use of a trailer to haul bikes down to Nenana in.

 “We were pretty psyched at how the logistics turned out,” Kaufman said. “We had great, positive feedback from participants.”

There was a post-race awards party at Goldstream Sports featuring music by the Frosty Bottoms. Breitenbach was the lucky winner of a free round-trip ticket donated by Warbelow’s Air Ventures. The names of the mens and womens winners in each division were put into a drawing for the ticket.

Other sponsors of the race included the Water Wagon, 9 Zero 7 bikes in Anchorage and Hammer Nutrition.

Complete Details are in today’s Sports Scoreboard on Page D2.

Contact the News-Miner sports department at 459-7581.

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