Chugiak’s climbing Connelly sets age-group record on Bird Ridge

Friday, September 14, 2018 - 14:55
  • Eagle River’s Michael Connelly nears the top of Bird Ridge during the Robert Spurr Memorial Hill Climb on Sunday, June 17, 2018. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)
  • Eagle River’s Michael Connelly nears the top of Bird Ridge during the Robert Spurr Memorial Hill Climb on Sunday, June 17, 2018. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)
  • The Robert Spurr Memorial Hill Climb was held Sunday, June 17, 2018 on Bird Ridge. (Photo by Matt Tunseth/Anchorage Daily News)
  • Eagle River’s Annie Connelly climbs toward the finish line during the Robert Spurr Memorial Hill Climb on Sunday, June 17, 2018. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)
  • Racers and spectators climb the final ridge near the top of Bird Ridge during the Robert Spur Memorial Hill Climb on Sunday, June 17, 2018. (Photo by Matt Tunseth/Anchorage Daily News)
  • Eagle River’s Chris Kirk nears the top of Bird Ridge during the Robert Spurr Hill Climb on Sunday, June 17, 2018. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)
  • Eagle River’s Carter Newell competes in the Robert Spurr Memorial Hill Climb on Bird Ridge Sunday, June 17, 2018. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)
  • Eagle River’s Jacob Bera climbs toward the finish line of the Robert Spurr Memorial Hill Climb Sunday, June 17, 2018 on Bird Ridge. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)
  • Eagle River’s Sheryl Loan nears the top of Bird Ridge during the Robert Spurr Memorial Hill Climb on Sunday, June 17, 2018. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)
  • Anchorage’s Lauren Fritz nears the top of Bird Ridge during the Robert Spurr Memorial Hill Climb on Sunday, June 17, 2018. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)
  • David Norris nears the finish line atop Bird Ridge in the Robert Spurr Memorial Hill Climb on Sunday, June 17, 2018. Norris broke his own record in the race, becoming the first person to break the 37-minute mark by racing up the 3,400-foot mountain in 36 minutes, 58 seconds. (Photo by Matt Tunseth/Anchorage Daily News)
  • Anchorage’s Jessica Yeaton nears the top of Bird Ridge during the Robert Spurr Memorial Hill Climb on Sunday, June 17, 2018. Yeaton won the women’s division in 44 minutes, 48 seconds. (Photo by Matt Tunseth/Anchorage Daily News)
  • Adam Jensen nears the finish line atop Bird Ridge during the Robert Spurr Memorial Hill Climb on Sunday, June 17, 2018. Jensen finished second behind David Norris. (Photo by Matt Tunseth/Anchorage Daily News)

The sky’s no limit for Chugiak’s Michael Connelly.

The 16-year-old mountain running phenom broke the 17-and-under age group record Sunday during his fifth-place run at the Robert Spurr Memorial Hill Climb on Bird Ridge.

“I’m very excited,” said Connelly, who completed the 3,400-foot climb to the summit in 41 minutes, 40 seconds to place fifth overall.

Connelly is one of the top young racers in the Alaska mountain running community, having burst onto the scene last season with a win at the Alyeska Climbathon. His success has earned Connelly the attention of the U.S. Skyrunning team, which recently invited the rising star to compete at the 2018 International Skyrunning Federation Youth Skyrunning World Championships August 3-5 in Italy.

The key to his success? Hard work and hamburgers.

“I’ve been hitting the mountains every day,” Connelly said after Sunday’s strong showing, which saw Connelly nipping at the heels of Luke Jager and Matt Novakovich throughout the race.

“They were pulling me up the mountain.”

Connelly said his training this summer has been relentless, and he’s been hitting the Chugach constantly. He said he climbs Bird Ridge each Sunday, and said he and his buddies go up Indian House Mountain every Wednesday to take advantage of a local delicacy.

“The best part about that is going to the Brown Bear Saloon after and getting a burger,” he said. “They’ve got five-dollar burgers on Wednesdays.”

Connelly said he’s in “tip-top shape” and excited to see how he performs in his upcoming races, which include both the World Championships and the unofficial Alaska mountain running championship, Mount Marathon.

The precocious racer said he’s been focusing on every aspect of training, from diet to rest and recovery, and wants to continue marching up the ranks of the state’s best. But he said there’s no real secret to his success aside from mountains of hard work.

“Anyone can do it,” he said. “You’ve just got to want it bad enough.”

Anchorage’s David Norris won the race for the second time, breaking his own record from 2016 by seven seconds in a winning time of 36:58. Anchorage’s Adam Jensen finished second in 39:05, with Jager third in 41:17 and Novakovich fourth in 41:29.

Anchorage’s Jessica Yeaton crushed it in her second appearance in the race, turning in a winning time of 44:48 — slower than just one woman in the race’s 30-year history. Record-holder Nancy Pease still owns the three fastest times in race history, including the record 42:27 set in 1993.

Palmer’s Christy Marvin was second in 45:02, with Anchorage’s Denali Strabel third in 47:42 and Anchorage’s Najeeby Quinn in fourth in 48:54.

Connelly was the top local finisher, but he wasn’t the only Chugiak-Eagle River athlete to have a standout Sunday on Bird Ridge: Chris Kirk was 11th overall and Eagle River’s Sheryl Loan placed fifth in the women’s division, two spots ahead of daughter Kinsey. Eagle River High grad Lauren Fritz, of Anchorage, was ninth in the women’s race, with Connelly’s older sister, Annie, placing 14th among the 58 women in the full climb.

The junior race (which goes roughly halfway to the top) was renamed “Jack’s Run” this year in honor of Jack Cooper, a 16-year-old who was killed by a black bear after completing the junior race last year.

Eagle River’s Lily Slatonbarker won the girls’ Jack’s Run, finishing in 26:56, good enough for seventh place overall. Eagle River’s Chace Hardy was fourth in the boys race and overall, clocking a time of 26:11.

This year’s event included additional security and safety personnel out on the course. Despite the measures, there were still a couple reports of black bears near the trail, with one spotted near the startling line and a sow with a cub seen near the midway point. However, there were no reports of any dangerous encounters with the bruins.

Cooper’s mother, Katrina Garner, said the event proved to be a happy day for the family.

“It was nice to be back under different circumstances and to have so many people helping,” said Garner, who accompanied her son Jason up the junior race trail.

Garner said she heard about at least one bear near the trail, but said dealing with the animals is just part of living in Alaska.

“That’s the reality of this place, there’s bears in the woods,” she said.

Garner said the kids in Jack’s Run kept their cool and didn’t let the reports rattle them.

“They stuck together and just ran right through the trail,” she said.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misstated Jensen’s finishing time.

Email Star editor Matt Tunseth at [email protected] or call (907) 257-4274.

Bird Ridge Hill Climb Results

June 18, 2017

FULL CLIMB MEN

1. David Norris, Anchorage, AK 36:58 2. Adam Jensen, Anchorage, AK 39:05 3. Luke Jager, Anchorage, AK 41:17 4. Matthew Novakovich, Anchorage, AK 41:29 5. Michael Connelly, Chugiak, AK 41:40 6. Seiji Takagi, Anchorage, AK 42:03 7. Erik Johnson, Seward, AK 42:20 8. Derek Steele, Anchorage, AK 42:42 9. Lyon Kopsack, Palmer, AK 42:46 10. Ben Marvin, Palmer, AK 42:48 11. Christopher Kirk, Eagle River, AK 43:25 12. Will Ross, Anchorage, AK 44:26 13. Hamish Wolfe, Anchorage, AK 45:05 14. Ben Ward, Anchorage, AK 45:15 15. Franklin Dekker, Anchorage, AK 45:30 16. Brian Kirchner, Anchorage, AK 45:33 17. Gavin Block, Palmer, AK 45:50 18. Daniel Kane, Anchorage, AK 46:05 19. Mike Monterusso, Anchorage, AK 46:06 20. Barney Griffith, Anchorage, AK 46:20 21. Craig Taylor, Eagle River, AK 46:24 22. Everett Cason, Anchorage, AK 47:11 23. Patrick Wolfe, Anchorage, AK 47:18 24. Kai Meyers, Anchorage, AK 47:22 25. Ryan Beckett, Anchorage, AK 47:40 26. Kelemen legate, Anchorage, AK 47:48 27. Robert Whitney, Anchorage, AK 47:51 28. Jacob Bradley, JBER, AK 47:54 29. Chris Smith, Palmer, AK 47:57 30. Tom Bronga, Anchorage, AK 48:08 31. Kevin Donley, Anchorage, AK 48:09 32. Paul Butera, Anchorage, AK 48:28 33. Isaac Bertschi, Anchorage, AK 48:52 34. Michael Earnhart, Eagle River, AK 48:53 35. Westley Dahlgren, Anchorage, AK 48:59 36. David Berg, Anchorage, AK 49:32 37. Nick Carl, Eagle River, AK 49:34 38. Mark Brady, Anchorage, AK 49:42 39. Tony Slatonbarker, Eagle River, AK 49:51 40. Alex Loan, Anchorage, AK 50:24 41. John Weddleton, Anchorage, AK 50:28 42. Dante Petri, Anchorage, AK 50:48 43. Brad Benter, Anchorage, AK 50:58 44. Kurtis Brumbaugh, Anchorage, AK 50:58 45. Derek Nottingham, Eagle River, AK 51:28 46. Nathaniel Knapp, Los Alamos, NM 51:38 47. Marc Lickingteller, Anchorage, AK 51:42 48. Jerome Ross, Anchorage, AK 52:05 49. Brian Boyle, Chugiak, AK 52:20 50. Brian Haviland, Anchorage, AK 52:44 51. Alex Youngmun, Anchorage, AK 53:07 52. Dan Brokaw, Girdwood, AK 53:10 53. Michael Marting, Colorado Springs, CO 53:15 54. Gary Snyder, Anchorage, AK 53:19 55. Alex Carl, Eagle River, AK 53:37 56. William Michener, Eagle River, AK 54:00 57. Andrew Dougherty, Anchorage, AK 54:03 58. Thomas Nenahlo, Anchorage, AK 54:08 59. Jacob Bera, Chugiak, AK 54:17 60. Paul Ferucci, Anchorage, AK 54:42 61. Kenny Werth, Boise, ID 54:48 62. Lucas Hepler, Anchorage, AK 55:03 63. John Clark, Palmer, AK 55:20 64. Troy Larson, Anchorage, AK 55:46 65. Joey Klecka, Kenai, AK 55:52 66. Bryan Templeman, Anchorage, AK 56:34 67. Cameron Reitmeier, Anchorage, AK 56:38 68. Tom Smayda, Palmer, AK 57:08 69. David Stamp, Anchorage, AK 58:02 70. Dane CROWLEY, Palmer, AK 58:04 71. Rico Agudelo, Anchorage, AK 58:14 72. Jordan Chilson, Soldotna, AK 58:31 73. Michael Michener, Eagle River, AK 58:33 74. Daryll Vispo, Anchorage, AK 58:37 75. Shawn Naber, Anchorage, AK 58:39 76. Daniel Virgin, Palmer, AK 59:14 77. Matt Crow, Anchorage, AK 59:32 78. Luke Kiskaddon, Anchorage, AK 1:00:01 79. SAM YOUNG, Seward, AK 1:00:08 80. Jonny Hughes, Anchorage, AK 1:00:14 81. Chance Newell, Eagle River, AK 1:00:31 82. Justin Smole, Anchorage, AK 1:00:40 83. Christopher Walker, Anchorage, AK 1:00:54 84. Brant Grifka, Eagle River, AK 1:01:43 85. John Thain, Anchorage, AK 1:01:46 86. Craig Miller, Anchorage, AK 1:01:49 87. Richard Hansen, Anchorage, AK 1:02:03 88. Greg Scofield, Anchorage, AK 1:02:19 89. Sterling Anderson, Anchorage, AK 1:02:48 90. Keith Cook, Eagle River, AK 1:02:53 91. Kris Burnett, Anchorage, AK 1:02:55 92. Daniel Desaulniers, Anchorage, AK 1:02:58 93. Blake Elder, Anchorage, AK 1:03:28 94. Mike Beiergrohslein, Eagle River, AK 1:03:55 95. Michael Link, Anchorage, AK 1:03:59 96. Alec Kay, Anchorage, AK 1:04:13 97. Daniel Willman, Anchorage, AK 1:04:21 98. Slade Manning, Anchorage, AK 1:05:00 99. Ted Paprocki, Anchorage, AK 1:05:03 100. David Buhite, Anchorage, AK 1:05:18 101. Daniel Crumpacker, Anchorage, AK 1:05:37 102. Joe Pollock, Anchorage, AK 1:05:37 103. David Rebischke, Anchorage, AK 1:06:09 104. Martin Joha Lindeke, Chugiak, AK 1:06:43 105. Huckleberry Seed, Las Vegas, NV 1:06:48 106. Keith Sanfacon, Anchorage, AK 1:06:56 107. Dylan Garbe, Eagle River, AK 1:07:13 108. John Haywood, Olympia, WA 1:07:21 109. Rhyss Vivian, Anchorage, AK 1:07:27 110. Carter Newell, Eagle River, AK 1:07:38 111. Douglas Ketterer, Anchorage, AK 1:08:46 112. patrick mcanally, Anchorage, AK 1:09:03 113. Michael Zidek, Anchorage, AK 1:10:10 114. John Pahkala, Anchorage, AK 1:10:27 115. Brandon Milne, Anchorage, AK 1:10:36 116. Steve McKeever, Anchorage, AK 1:11:02 117. Tab Ballantine, Anchorage, AK 1:11:28 118. Roger Kemppel, Anchorage, AK 1:11:43 119. Duke Ruzicka, Anchorage, AK 1:11:51 120. Evan R Steinhauser, Eagle River, AK 1:12:07 121. Gunner Hodgson, Palmer, AK 1:12:21 122. Adam Cooley, Anchorage, AK 1:13:29 123. Clarence Pautzke, Anchorage, AK 1:13:38 124. Kibo Kang, Anchorage, AK 1:13:44 125. Brent Williams, Anchorage, AK 1:14:35 126. Nelson Carpluk, Anchorage, AK 1:15:05 127. Devan Andersen, Anchorage, AK 1:17:19 128. Brian Pautzke, Girdwood, AK 1:18:40 129. Timothy Garbe, Eagle River, AK 1:19:51 130. Bernard Sturgulewski, Anchorage, AK 1:29:19 131. Matthew Theisen, Anchorage, AK 1:38:57 132. ERNEST STOLEN, Anchorage, AK 1:43:00 133. George Galliher, Anchorage, AK 1:44:27 134. Jubal Bryant, Anchorage, AK 2:05:01

FULL CLIMB WOMEN

1. Jessica Yeaton, Anchorage, AK 44:48 2. Christy Marvin, Palmer, AK 44:59 3. Denali Strabel, Anchorage, AK 47:42 4. Najeeby Quinn, Anchorage, AK 48:54 5. Sheryl Loan, Eagle River, AK 50:04 6. Allison Barnwell, Seward, AK 50:45 7. Kinsey Loan, Eagle River, AK 50:50 8. Julianne Dickerson, Anchorage, AK 51:13 9. Lauren Fritz, Anchorage, AK 51:35 10. Heather Edic, Anchorage, AK 52:15 11. Abby Jahn, Anchorage, AK 53:20 12. Megan Neale, Anchorage, AK 54:05 13. Sadie Fox, Soldotna, AK 54:30 14. Annie Connelly, Chugiak, AK 54:36 15. Lauren Spinelli, Anchorage, AK 54:43 16. Lisa Anglen, Anchorage, AK 55:39 17. Leslie Robbins, Anchorage, AK 56:46 18. Kristen Sieminski, Seward, AK 56:59 19. Sarah Cosgrave, Anchorage, AK 57:13 20. Casey Wright, Anchorage, AK 57:59 21. Wendy Sailors, Anchorage, AK 58:01 22. Shannon Donley, Anchorage, AK 58:25 23. Tamra Kornfield, Anchorage, AK 58:42 24. Milissa Knox, Eagle River, AK 59:48 25. Amber McDonough, Anchorage, AK 1:00:40 26. Leah Besh, Anchorage, AK 1:00:48 27. leah legate, Anchorage, AK 1:01:02 28. Janel Radford, Anchorage, AK 1:01:03 29. Alyse Loran, Anchorage, AK 1:01:12 30. Erin Hamilton, Anchorage, AK 1:01:19 31. Kimberly Fitzgerald, Fairbanks, AK 1:01:21 32. Meredyth Richards, Anchorage, AK 1:02:09 33. Andrea Kettler, Anchorage, AK 1:02:49 34. Shannon Brockman, Anchorage, AK 1:02:52 35. Ellyn Brown, Anchorage, AK 1:03:10 36. Jillian Fellman, Chugiak, AK 1:03:22 37. Jessica Pahkala, Anchorage, AK 1:03:34 38. Alejandra legate, Anchorage, AK 1:03:40 39. Emily Helland, Anchorage, AK 1:04:59 40. Gwendolynn Gabbert, Anchorage, AK 1:06:39 41. Michelle Dickson, Anchorage, AK 1:06:41 42. Alayna DuPont, Girdwood, AK 1:06:56 43. Karen Looney, Palmer, AK 1:06:58 44. Hannah Beutler, Seward, AK 1:08:25 45. Rachelle Kanady, Anchorage, AK 1:08:41 46. Whitney Andersen, Anchorage, AK 1:10:11 47. Emily Kloc, Anchorage, AK 1:12:38 48. Mariah Buttets, Seward, AK 1:13:48 49. Suzanne Knudsen, Indian, AK 1:14:50 50. Sondra Stonecipher, Soldotna, AK 1:17:25 51. Elizabeth Earl, Soldotna, AK 1:17:32 52. Amy Brumbaugh, Anchorage, AK 1:18:20 53. Linda Barnack, Anchorage, AK 1:19:54 54. Rose Garner, Anchorage, AK 1:22:31 55. Christine Youngblood, Anchorage, AK 1:23:08 56. ALI TREMAINE, Anchorage, AK 1:25:24 57. Rachel Thompson, Anchorage, AK 1:39:40 58. Natalie Bickers, Palmer, AK 1:43:20

JACK’S RUN BOYS

1. Aven Elsberg, Anchorage, AK 24:06 2. Beck Haywood, Anchorage, AK 24:19 3. Finnigan Donley, Anchorage, AK 25:49 4. Chace Hardy, Eagle River, AK 26:11 5. Ben Duhrsen, Anchorage, AK 26:15 6. Daniel Ferucci, Anchorage, AK 26:36 7. Henry Michener, Eagle River, AK 27:59 8. Josh Novakovich, Anchorage, AK 29:27 9. Logan Cuddy, Anchorage, AK 29:39 10. Bret Brumbaugh, Anchorage, AK 29:42 11. Braun Precosky, Anchorage, AK 30:13 12. Mason Newell, Eagle River, AK 32:34 13. Fian Walsh, Chugiak, AK 32:45 14. Elias Barnard, Anchorage, AK 33:05 15. Rhett Jones, Eagle River, AK 34:25 16. Elias Williams, Anchorage, AK 36:37 17. Logan Williams, Anchorage, AK 37:15 18. Legend Kopsack, Palmer, AK 38:48 19. Jason Cooper, Anchorage, AK 39:49 20. Nycoh Johnston, Eagle River, AK 46:18 21. Liam Cuddy, Anchorage, AK 47:40 22. Emery Lindeke, Chugiak, AK 1:06:56 23. Leif Konrath-Bera, Chugiak, AK 1:07:21

JACK’S RUN GIRLS

1. Llily Slatonbarker, Eagle River, AK 26:56 2. Liz Novakovich, Anchorage, AK 29:45 3. Brianna Gill Anderson, Anchorage, AK 30:25 4. Addison Stevenson, Anchorage, AK 32:30 5. Jillian Gavalya, Chugiak, AK 32:35 6. Berit Meyers, Anchorage, AK 33:51 7. Amanda Michener, Eagle River, AK 35:32 8. Meredith Duhrsen, Anchorage, AK 36:58 9. Sammy legate, Anchorage, AK 37:09 10. Quinzee Elsberg, Anchorage, AK 37:10 11. Sophie Novakovich, Anchorage, AK 45:28 12. Ava Cook, Eagle River, AK 46:45 13. Zoee Beiergrohslein, Eagle River, AK 46:49 14. Harper Willman, Anchorage, AK 46:58 15. Sarah Warnke, Eagle River, AK 52:15 16. Lily Konrath-Bera, Chugiak, AK 1:07:30

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