Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic

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The race start of the Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic in Chicken in 2006.

The Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic (sometimes called the Alaska Wilderness Classic) is an adventure race that espouses purity of style. Started in 1982 as a 150-mile (240 km) wilderness footrace, the Classic has crossed various mountain ranges throughout Alaska with some routes covering nearly 250 miles (400 km). Traditionally, the same route has been used for three years in a row.

The rules are simple: start to finish with no outside support, requiring that racers carry all food and equipment; human-powered; leave no trace; and rescue is up to the individual to resolve. The most common form of transportation is by foot and packraft, although bicycles, skis, and paragliders have been used by intrepid racers. Beginning in 2004, racers have been required to carry satellite phones to facilitate emergency rescues.

The organization of the race is grass-roots, having no affiliation to any organization or group, while generally fewer than 50 people enter in any one year. Its influence on American adventure racing, backcountry use of the packraft, and ultralight hiking is significant[citation needed]. In addition to the summer race, there is an even more low-key winter event, the Alaska Mountain Wilderness Ski Race, which has taken place evey year since 1987 with races through the Chugach Mountains, Alaska Range, Brooks Range, and Wrangell-St. Elias.

Routes and winners[edit]

1982–1984[edit]

Hope to Homer (Kenai Peninsula), 150 miles (240 km)

  • 1982 – Roman Dial
  • 1983 – Roman Dial and Jim Lokken
  • 1984 – David Manzer (course record: 3 days 12 hours)

1985–1987[edit]

Mentasta to Denali National Park (Alaska Range), 235 miles (378 km)

  • 1985 – Hank Timm
  • 1986 – Hank Timm
  • 1987 – Hank Timm and Randy Pitney (course record: 4 days 18 hours 27 minutes)

1988–1990[edit]

Nabesna to McCarthy (Wrangell – Saint Elias Wilderness), 150 miles (240 km)

  • 1988 – Roman Dial
  • 1989 – David Manzer, Adrian Crane and Tom Possert
  • 1990 – Brant McGee and Jeff Gedney

1991–1993[edit]

Gates of the Arctic Wilderness (Brooks Range), 130 miles (210 km)

  • 1991 – Brant McGee and Adrian Crane (course record: 2 days 6 hours 18 minutes)
  • 1992 – Brant McGee and Dave Dixon
  • 1993 – Gordy Vernon

1994–1996[edit]

Donnelly to McKinley Village (Alaska Range), 140 miles (230 km)

  • 1994 – Frazier Miller
  • 1995 – Clark Saunders (course record: 2 days 12 hours 20 minutes)
  • 1996 – Steve Reifenstuhl and Rocky Reifenstuhl

1997–1999[edit]

Hope to Homer (Kenai Peninsula), 150 miles (240 km)

  • 1997 – Gordy Vernon and Thai Verzone
  • 1998 – Gordy Vernon
  • 1999 – Jim Jaegar and Laura McDonough

2000–2002[edit]

Nabesna to McCarthy (Wrangell – Saint Elias Wilderness), 150 miles (240 km)

  • 2000 – Steve Reifenstuhl and Rocky Reifenstuhl
  • 2001 – Steve Reifenstuhl and Rocky Reifenstuhl
  • 2002 – Roman Dial (course record: 2 days 4 hours 24 minutes)

2003–2005[edit]

Eureka to Talkeetna (Talkeetna Mountains), 160 miles (260 km)

  • 2003 – Hans Neidig, Chris Robertson and Paul Hanis
  • 2004 – Gordy Vernon and Thai Verzone
  • 2005 – Robert Schnell, Jason Geck, Tyler Johnson and Rory Stark (course record: 1 day 23 hours 29 minutes)

2006–2008[edit]

Chicken to Central (Tanana-Yukon Uplands), 180 miles (290 km)

  • 2006 – Robert Schnell and Chris Robertson (course record: 4 days 10 hours 42 minutes)
  • 2007 – Robert Schnell and Chris Robertson
  • 2008 – Butch Allen, Jim McDonough, Tyler Johnson and Craig "Chunk" Barnard

2009–2011[edit]

Gerstle River/Donnelly to McKinley Village (Alaska Range), 180 miles (290 km)

  • 2009 – Robert Schnell, Chris Robertson and Andrew Skurka (course record: 3 days 17 hours 54 minutes)
  • 2010 – Robert Schnell, Chris Robertson, Todd Kasteler and Danny Powers
  • 2011 – Tyler Johnson, Todd Kasteler, Luc Mehl and John Sykes

2012–2014[edit]

Thompson Pass to Lakina River Bridge (Chugach Mountains, Wrangell – Saint Elias Wilderness), 120 miles (190 km) - 180 miles (290 km)

  • 2012 – Luc Mehl, Josh Mumm (course record: 3d 22.5h, Bremner Route)
  • 2013 – Lee Helzer, Steve Duby, Len Jenkins (Slowest 1st place finish: 7 days, 8 hours, 44 minutes)
  • 2014 –

Records[edit]

  • Most entrants: 1984 Hope to Homer
  • Highest entrants:Finishers Ratio: 7:1 -- 1985 Mentasta to McKinley
  • Lowest entrants:Finishers Ratio: 5:13 -- 2013 Thompson Pass to Lakina River Bridge
  • Fastest finish: Jason Geck, Robert Schnell, Tyler Johnson and Rory Stark: 1 day, 23 hours, 30 minutes -- 2005 Eureka to Talkeetna
  • Slowest 1st place finish: Lee Helzer, Steve Duby, Len Jenkins: 7 days, 8 hours, 44 minutes -- 2013 Thompson Pass to Lakina River Bridge
  • Fastest solo finish: Bjorn Flora: 2 days, 1 hour, 20 minutes -- 2005 Eureka to Talkeetna
  • Fastest female finish: Peggy Dial: 3 days, 3 hours, 40 minutes -- 1993 Gates of the Arctic
  • Oldest finisher: Dick Griffith: 78 years old --- 2004 Eureka to Talkeetna
  • Oldest finisher in 'Master's Division': Dick Griffith -- 81 years old --2008 Chicken to Central
  • Youngest finisher: Cody Dial: 17 years old -- 2004 Eureka to Talkeetna
  • Most finishes: Tie: Dick Griffith and John Lapkass: 17 finishes
  • First use of a packraft: Dick Griffith -- 1982 Hope to Homer
  • First use of a packraft and skis: Roman Dial and Jim Lokken -- 1983 Hope to Homer
  • First use of a mountain bike: Hank Timm and Randy Pitney -- 1987 Mentasta to McKinley
  • First use of a paraglider: Chuck Comstock -- 1988 Nabesna to McCarthy
  • First 'Master's Division' finish: Dick Griffith -- 2008 Chicken to Central

References[edit]