The following article was published in The Nome Nugget on Thursday, July 7 and written by reporter Keith Conger.
Oklahoma marathoner wins 40th Anvil Mountain Run Story and photos by Keith Conger
Add the Anvil Mountain Run to the long distance runner’s bucket list. Hunter Sallee crossed that one off his checklist in style by winning the 40th Annual Anvil Mountain Run on July 4th. Twelve of this year’s 26 participants reside outside of Nome.
According to Strava, Sallee’s runner’s app, he finished in a time of 1 hour, 17 minutes. That mark eclipsed two-time defending champion Jeff Collins by nearly four minutes.
“My parents are spending the summer in Alaska, and I’m only up here for 19 days,” said Sallee, 22, an avid marathon runner. “Everywhere I travel I look for a local race, just for fun, and I found this one. I told my parents that since we are going to Nome, why don’t we schedule it around the race.”
Sallee made his move on Collins — Nome-Beltz High School’s cross country running coach — at the Dexter Bypass turn. Up to that point the two had been running side by side. He opened up a lead on the road up Anvil Mountain and by Anvil Rock he had gained a one-minute advantage over Collins.
“I didn’t really know about the actual marked course,” said Sallee about his experience at the top of the mountain. “I was like ‘So where do I go?’ and they (checkpoint volunteers) said ‘Take off that way’.” Those directions were enough to help him locate the steep trail that descends off the mountain toward the Glacier Creek Road.
Sam Deering, 17, was able to keep the pair in sight for the first half of the race. Deering, a former Nome Public Schools student who is entering his senior year at Colony High School in Palmer, Alaska, was the next finisher. He passed Anvil Rock just two minutes behind Collins and finished nearly seven minutes off the pace.
“I got a five minute PR (personal record), and a lot of places, too,” said Deering about knocking time off his 2015 Anvil Mountain Run time, and improving his spot in the standings from ninth to third.
The top female runner in the race was Maisie Thomas, who finished eighth overall. “I did the race last year, and was second to Crystal Tobuk by three seconds,” said Thomas. “That loss has definitely stuck with me, so this year my goal was to win the women’s division.”
Harrison Moore, 16, finished fourth, trailing Deering by six minutes. This was his first time running the race. Stan Wullschleger was the top runner over the age of 55, finishing 18th.
Sallee was pleased with the conditions that presented runners with clear skies, temps in the 50°s and winds that kept the turbines at the nearby Banner Peak Wind Farm stationary. “This was really nice. The temperatures back home right now are about 100 degrees, with 81 percent humidity,” he said after the race. “It’s sweltering back home. You walk outside and do a run and you’re just drenched in sweat. You feel like you’ve taken a bath.”
Race organizer Leo Rasmussen conducted the pre-race briefing. Each runner was given a sheet that included a topographical map of the course and the race rules. Although runners are no longer required to carry a card to be signed at each checkpoint, they must pass through each of the four marks on the mountain. “How you get to checkpoint one, you can run anyway you want to. And how you come from four back to the finish line, you can run anyway you want to,” he instructed.
Collins was impressed with Sallee’s efforts. He said this year’s champion ran a great race despite not knowing all the “local’s shortcuts” like skirting the high school, cutting through the cemetery, or passing through the neighborhoods in town. According to Strava, Collins local knowledge saved him two-tenths of a mile compared to Sallee.
The Anvil Mountain Run starts and ends at City Hall. Each of the participants completed the course in time to attend the Fourth of July parade. It is listed as having 1,116 feet of elevation gain. The posted distance is 12.5 miles, although runners’ Stava readings gave distance of between 11.1 and 11.3 miles.