Alaska the last frontier…

Alaska… The last frontier, or so the car number plates around here say. That and the random slogans taken from the Bible and blown up to 140-point font and splashed across the back windscreen. Things about another coming… all highly inappropriate for a blog really.

Well it’s wild here. No doubting that. The weather, people and wildlife harmonize perfectly to form a kind of freezing society with large animals (i.e. moose, bears, the abominable snowman, etc.) and enough weapons to supply a small civil war. Exciting really.

The scenery is spectacular when you finally get to stop and catch your breath. After being chased by that certain Bull Moose who’s been checking you out for the last few laps around the roller ski loop. It’s been eyeballing you with a curled lip and squinted brow, for wearing that brightly colored warm up jacket and clashing Lycra bottoms (or should I say spandex).

Is it really that bad you ask? No, not really. But I have seen bible slogans, someone getting chased by a moose and I’ve heard enough hunting stories that I could sit by any camp fire and swindle about the mighty hunt I once had and how Bigfoot got away.

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Alaska… Where you can have a herbivore in your front yard large enough to kill you.
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Playing hide and seek is hard when you’re bigger than a horse…

Learning from my previous errors I took the first day here very easy just heading out for 5 km run. The weather was a bit of a shock. Going from 20 degrees C and perfect sun to 0 and light rain is a little depressing. On the upside, the next day I joined up with the APU elite team and caught a ride up with them to Hatcher Pass where there are already groomed trails. It’s about an hour drive out of Anchorage and sadly, the small change in location did change the weather but for the more interesting. A super strong warm wind blew in. When I say strong I mean strong enough to watch one of the APU athletes ski bag with skis, poles and a pole tube in it start to slide across the car park. The afternoon was very pleasant however with a run along the side of the sea with Lauren and with sky’s above that were starting to clear!

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Hatcher pass’s trails wind through an abandoned gold mind. Pre sunrise.
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All very eerie with no sun.
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Running along the coast.
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A panorama of the inlet.
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The “Sleeping Lady” looking amazing across the inlet.

My second ski for the season couldn’t have been more different from the first. A light dusting of snow. Sun shine (when if finally rose at 9:30) and no wind. Again I was with the APU gang and this time I jumped in with half of their intervals session which was awesome! The quality of the skiers here is super high and it’s just a wonderful opportunity to learn from some of the best in the US!

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A unique situation where we were up in the mountains but below the cloud cover looking into the valley from Hatchers Pass.
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At the highest point of grooming at Hatchers Pass.
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APU Elite Women’s team during an interval session.
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Probably shouldn’t copy everything the team does.

Halloween was another experience, I have had it once before but this time was a lot more like how I imagined. 166 kids came knocking on our door asking for candy. Some of the costumes were amazing and kids (or more likely parents) had gone to a huge effort. Up and down the entire street kids roamed in all sorts of costumes and colored outfits. That plus all the lights, lanterns and Halloween displays of each house creates an amazing atmosphere.

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CHEWY!!! Possibly the best costume I saw for the night. Although his mask kept sliding down so someone had to walk with him guiding him to each front door.
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A computer game character, I love that they even made the pixillation on the face!

Now that I’ve been here for almost two weeks, training with APU I’ve started to find my groove and really enjoy the team and training. The team comes together every morning and trains with coaches present, then in the afternoon athletes are allowed to train by themselves but most train in smaller groups. I had my first time trial of the year with APU on Tuesday and it was amazing, at the end of the session the coaches asked us to keep the results of the TT quiet because by that afternoon a number of newspapers and blogs had already emailed or called asking for the results and comments. I guess that’s what happens when you have the current Team Sprint World Champion and World Cup Sprint Champion in your team. That being said no newspaper is calling me up asking for my comments so I’m guessing I’m safe to talk about my race. It was short, only 7.5 km but on a good mock race track with some solid climbs and basically no rest. The snow was also extremely cold and coarse, making it slow skiing. Being the first TT of the season I wasn’t expecting anything amazing especially since my illness in California so the goal was to pace well and just try and ski technically strong. I have another TT on Friday, a 15km skate, on the same course so that should be a lot of fun. One of the guys on the team loved photography and film making and threw together a very quick video of some of the guys skiing one afternoon up at Hatchers last week, take a look here .

I also have had a few interesting runs here, because of the sun setting so early all the running trails are lit with lights, or at least the ones in town, it makes for some eerie runs. I have also had some amazing runs out into the Mountains which are yet to see proper snow.

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Light in the tunnel! running at 5:30 in the afternoon.
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Coastal run in the afternoon.
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Lauren looking down to Anchorage after running the “Power line” track.
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No snow but cold!!! Im standing on a stream crossing thats frozen solid!
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If you look closely, the entire stream is frozen solid into little steps.
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Panorama of the valley.
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A mountain sheep, not a goat apparently!

I’m off for another eerie run now with some of the crew.

Train hard, rest easy, live for the moment.

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4 thoughts on “Alaska the last frontier…

  1. Such a good read. The scenery looks SO enormous. It must be amazing to be part of all this. Have fun:take care. June x

  2. Hi Paul. I am most impressed with your blog. Very envious as well being able to ski in Alaska. The video racing through the trails at Hatchers was awesome. Steve Bentley

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