Homer Alaska - Sports

Story last updated at 9:57 PM on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Marathon course visually, physically breathtaking

By Lindsay Johnson
Staff Writer

Milk toast was on the lips of skiers as they basked in the sun at the finish of the 2011 Kachemak Nordic Ski Marathon last Saturday, not just because they'd worked up an appetite skiing 27 or 40 kilometers.

The late food author M.F.K. Fisher described milk toast a "warm, mild, soothing thing, full of innocent strength." Marathon course designers used the term to name one of the most formidable features on the trail, a dip race participants called anything but mild and innocent.

"There's a really big hill right in the middle of it. It's like a 90 degree angle hill. It's huge," said Liszka Besseney, a junior age group skier who did the 27-km.

"The tip of your skis are at the edge and you still can't see the bottom," described Kevin Walker, who also did the 27-km.

Milk Toast is one of many challenging elements (see also "Pray to God," "leap of faith," "the wall," "the screamer") on the marathon trail, which connects Lookout Mountain ski area with the Baycrest trails via Crossman Ridge and Diamond Ridge.

"This is pretty much an elite race course, very technical. Probably one of the harder 42-k marathons, at least in the United States," said Doug Schwiesow, one of the original marathon organizers.

Expansive views and tree-lined corridors add to the breathtaking qualities of the course's demanding topography.

After finishing the 27-km tour Richard Gustafson described it as "the most beautiful trail in the world."

Weeks of grooming, brilliant sun, minimal wind and temperatures in the 20s made for near-perfect race conditions.

A total of 99 skiers completed the course, including 25 from Anchorage, a handful each from Soldotna and Palmer, as well as representatives from Girdwood, Kasilof, Kenya and France.

The field also included celebrity skiers Rachel Steer, an Olympic biathlete from Anchorage; Bill Spencer, a former Olympian who helped design Kincaid Park and Lookout Mountain trails; and four members of the Alaska Pacific University Nordic ski team, who claimed the top three spots in the men's 40-km and second place in the women's.

"The winner, Bart Dengel, told me that our up and down course was way more fun than grinding out the last several kilometers of the Tour of Anchorage along the coastal trail," said race organizer Marylou Burton.

Dengel's teammate, Erika Klaar, said they had a blast and will definitely be back.

Stacey Buckelew, a third year marathon veteran from Anchorage who took second in the women's 27-km race, said it was a great day.

"They did a really good job grooming. This is definitely the fastest time I've done it and I think it has a lot to do with snow conditions," Buckelew said.

Burton said the race course changes slightly from year to year, so comparing times doesn't say much.

"That being said, we definitely had some record times this year. That was especially true in the men's 42-km race. The top three spots came in well under 2 hours," said Burton.

A big dump of snow right before the 2010 race made a mess for groomers and skiers, who ended up running one 30-km course instead of a shorter and longer variation.

This year marathon options tripled with the addition of a touring division to the usual long race and shorter races. The tour proved popular, with 25 of the 70 27-km skiers signing up to start an hour earlier than the race.

"It was really fun, beautiful, great trail," said Christine Anderson, who did the 27-km tour.

Like many others on the trail that day, Anderson was out to simply enjoy the unique terrain and community of Kachemak Nordic.

"I just ski it to ski it," she said.

The marathon trail is in as long as the snow is. For a description and map, visit www.kachemaknordicskiclub.org/trails/.

Complete results

Lindsay Johnson may be reached at lindsay.johnson@homernews.com.

2011 Kachemak Nordic Ski Marathon Results

25K Tour/Race- Women

1 Devon Crawford, M3, Anchorage, 1:34:39

2 Stacey Buckelew, M1, Anchorage, 1:41:02

3 Hanni Schwiesow, Sr, Homer, 1:43:07

4 Laura Pillifant, M5, Soldatna, 2:22:44

5 Theresa Heckart, Anchorage, 2:29:48

6 Greta Moahowald, M1, Fritz Creek, 2:31:35

7 Diana Carbonell, M3, Homer, 2:31:36

8 Taylor Iredale, Jr, Homer, 2:35:55

9 Rachael Lord, Sr, Homer, 2:36:59

10 Cassidy Soistman, Jr, Homer, 2:45:51

11 Mia Alexson, Jr, Homer, 2:45:55

12 Julie Robinson, M3, Anchorage, 2:47:30

13 Karen Hurd, M7, Homer, 2:51:09

14 Mary Ghosm, M3, Homer, 2:57:13

15 Christine Anderson, M5, Homer, 3:28:09

16 Barb Baysinger, Homer, 3:34:42

17 Audrey Russell, Jr, Homer, 3:44:30

18 Kara Clemens, M3, Homer, 3:47:59

19 Miranda Weiss, M2, Homer, 3:48:00

20 Jasmine Maurer, Sr, Homer, 3:48:00

21 Nell Gustafson, M7, Homer, 3:54:57

22 Nora Rojek, M4, Homer, 4:05:32

23 Mariello Van Tuyn, Jr, Homer, 4:10:17

24 Marilyn Parrett, M4, Homer, 4:11:01

25 Liska Bessenyey, Jr, Anchorage, 4:11:21

26 Ilona Bessenyey, M5, Anchorage, 4:11:34

27 Shelley Laukitis, M4, Homer, 4:11:35

28 Cindy Brinkerhoff, M5, 4:27:02

29 Heather Beveridge, M1, Homer, 4:34:31

30 Sue Parrish, M1, Homer, 4:36:12

31 Karen Marquardt, M4, Homer, 4:40:23

32 Katherine Rawlins, M2, Anchorage, 4:57:17

33 Jessi, Sr, 5:18:16

34 Heather Beggs, M2, Homer, 5:18:18

35 Amy Holman, M3, Homer, 5:18:29

36 Kris Holderied, M4, Homer, 5:18:46

37 Ingrid Harrald, M3, Homer, 5:19:11

38 Maureen Hunter, M7, Homer, 5:19:12

25K Tour/Race - Men

1 Tommy Honer, Sr, Soldatna, 1:24:30

2 Inti Harbison Sr, Soldatna, 1:28:26

3 Bill Spencer, M5, Anchorage, 1:30:28

4 Mike Penlland, Sr, 1:33:39

5 Dan Harbison, M4, Soldatna, 1:33:41

6 David Clemens, M2, Homer, 1:35:38

7 Buck Laukitis, Homer, 1:36:42

8 Daniel Olson, M1, Homer, 1:38:21

9 Dan Brokaw, M4, Girdwood, 1:38:45

10 Atz Kilcher, M7, Homer, 1:39:16

11 Joe Seelis, M2, 1:40:45

12 Kirk Johnson, M5, 1:51:35

13 Jerome Levaque, M2, France, 1:53:06

14 Chris Parrish, M1 ,Homer 1:53:25

15 Jon Berryman, M8, Homer, 1:56:39

16 Peter Maassen, M6, 2:07:19

17 Richard Kleinleder, M6, Homer, 2:11:36

18 Kevin Monahan, M2, Anchorage, 2:20:15

19 Leonard Miller, M5, Homer, 2:29:51

20 Jake Worsfold, Jr, Homer, 2:41:08

21 Philip Alderfer, M3, Homer, 2:48:10

22 Izzy Mohamed, Jr, Kenya, 2:51:50

23 Chris Russ, M4, Homer, 2:57:04

24 Stanley Purrington, M7, Homer, 3:16:20

25 Kevin Walker, M7, Homer, 3:21:04

26 Deland Anderson, M5, Homer, 3:27:34

27 Revella Russell, M4, Homer, 3:44:34

28 Richard Gustafson, M6, Homer, 3:48:23

29 Paul Trowbridge, Jr, Homer, 4:00:12

30 Charlie Trowbridge, M5, Homer, 4:00:14

31 Dean Kildan, M3, Homer, 4:05:34

32 Carl Brinkerhoff, M5, 4:27:01

42K Race - Women

1 Rachel Steer, M1, Anchorage, 2:17:09

2 Erika Klarr, Sr, Anchorage, 2:20:44

3 Heidi Herzog, Sr, Homer, 2:21:44

4 Aurelie Barnel, M1, Anchorage, 2:26:00

5 Lisa Beck, M5, Homer, 2:33:57

6 Debbie Wrigley, M2, Anchorage, 2:37:36

7 Stephanie Schmidt, Sr, Homer, 2:48:42

8 Karen Hopp, Palmer, 3:37:47

42K Race- Men

1 Bart Dengel, Sr, Anchorage, 1:45:10

2 Don Haering, Sr, Anchorage, 1:48:55

3 Erin Phillips, Sr, Anchorage, 1:50:44

4 Pete Alexson, M3, Homer, 1:59:06

5 Benji Uffenbeck, M1, Anchorage, 2:00:30

6 Peter Oswald, M2, Anchorage, 2:02:43

7 Michael Mumm, M1, Homer, 2:04:29

8 Jeremy Crawford, M2, Anchorage, 2:05:16

9 Fred Stutzer M5, Anchorage, 2:11:27

10 Jens Klarr, M5, Homer, 2:14:42

11 Alex Wilson, M2, Anchorage, 2:18:16

12 Tom Smayda, M6, Palmer, 2:21:16

13 Steven Bergt, M5, Anchorage, 2:24:38

14 Guillaume Perinet, Sr, Anchorage, 2:29:45

15 Billy Day, M5, Homer, 2:31:18

16 Peter Van Tuyn, Anchorage, 2:40:39

17 Gary Dickerson, M6, Homer, 2:42:59

18 Mace McFarland, M4, Anchorage, 2:45:50

19 Karl Kircher, M5, Kasilof, 2:50:13

20 Paul Gutzler, M1, Homer, 3:07:56

21 Gene Backus Palmer, 3:37:49

Complete results