Anchorage is a mountain runners dream. From the edge of town, the tundra and rock continue unlimited with zero crowds. Six years ago, I spent the summer running the 35 named summits in the Chugach Front Range — those peaks that rise above Anchorage and are divided from the rest of the Chugach by Ship and Indian Creeks.
During summer 2005, Trond Jensen and I studied the ridges between the 12 summits over 5,000 feet. Our goal was to linkup the the 12 summits in less than 24 hours. We pulled off the 38-mile, 19,000-foot Chugach Front Linkup in 23 hours and 13 minutes. While many Anchorage athletes are physically capable of the route, few learn the learn the complex connections. Unfortunately that linkup crushed me, and my running ambitions fizzled.
Wanting me to run again, my wife suggested I read Born to Run, about the Tarahumara runners and running technique. I began running in my sandals, learning to land on my forefeet as runners have for thousands of years before cushioned shoes. Despite my initial crippled calf muscles, forefoot running feels so right. It keeps me upright with less pounding. My lingering Chugach Front ticklist reappeared.
Last night Dave Bass, Anthony and I left the Glenn Alps parking lot after work for a summit linkup of Elliot, Wolverine and Rusty. Our focus was a craggy three-mile section of ridge between Elliot and Wolverine that none of us had touched. Six hours later we returned to Glenn Alps, crippled, smiling and planning our next run. Summer in Alaska!