Skiers, fat-tire bikers hit trails for Tour of Anchorage
On Sunday, Nordic skiers gathered for an annual marathon point-to-point cross-country tour of Alaska’s largest city called the Tour of Anchorage. This year, for the first time, two fat-tire bike races were added.
There were four skiing events: 25K freestyle, 25K classic, 40K freestyle and 50K freestyle.
About 1,000 racers took off from Service High School or Alaska Pacific University and made their way around town, taking in the sights of the city. Kincaid Park served as the finish line.
Ella Mayo-Kiely participated in the 40K race.
"I just do it for fun and, like, to spend time with my friends,” she said. “Also, like, at the end, you feel really good about yourself.”
Race director Matias Saari says there are very few events like this in the nation.
"Anchorage is really a mecca for Nordic skiing in this country: world-class trails, great grooming,” Saari said. “We're really spoiled here."
The tour attracts skiers from around the country, including Colorado's Russell Oakley, who completed his first 50K race.
"I train in Colorado at about 8,000 feet and Anchorage is almost at sea level, so I felt pretty confident I can finish a long race at sea level, and I did.” Oakley said. “So I'm pretty happy about that.”
This year, the Tour of Anchorage was about more than just skiing; it included two fat-tire biking events.
About 170 riders took part in either a 40K or 50K race and were excited about the chance to take on some new trails.
“Some of these courses we’ve never been able to ride before,” said fat-tire bike racer Derek Ford. “To get out on some of the trails we've never actually been able to get out on on a bike before, so that part was very enticing and appealing."
Saari said fat-tire bikes seem like a natural fit because of how popular they’ve become in recent years.
"Now, when you're out on the trails, you see as many bikers as you do skiers, if not more,” Saari said. “So we wanted to include them and expand the event that way."
Awards for the top finishers will be handed out an at award ceremony and post-race party on Tuesday, March 5, from 6-8 p.m. at 49th State Brewing Co. in Anchorage.
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