Sam Scotchmer, the brew master at the recently opened Baranof Island Brewing company, cruised to victory in the 17th annual Alpine Adventure on Saturday, crossing the finishing line near the Harbor Mountain picnic shelter in 1:09:40.
Scotchmer, a 25-year-old former cross country and track standout at Central Washington University, posted the second fastest time ever in the 7-mile race up Gavan Hill.
On an overcast but pleasant day in Sitka, 74 runners, including a handful from the U.S. Coast Guard, toed the starting line behind St. Gregory's Catholic Church Saturday and took off for the Gavan Hill trail.
The honorary race starter was Lt. Lance Leone, who survived the recent helicopter crash in Washington state that claimed the lives of three of his colleagues.
Leone was accompanied by his wife and other family members.
The race was dedicated to Air Station Sitka, and many runners honored the aircrew of 6017 on their shirts and running shorts.
It was the largest alpine run to date, with the U.S. Forest Service allowing race director Chris Horan 75 spots this year, up from 60.
The female champion Saturday, Kathleen Maynard of Juneau, also posted the second-fastest finish in race history, crossing the finish line in 1:24:46, just under two minutes off Cedar Bourgeois' female course record.
Bourgeois, a seven-time Mount Marathon champion from Seward, ran 1:23:00 in 2008.
Tasha Folsom was second among the female racers Saturday, finishing in 1:28:08, the fastest time ever by a female from Sitka.
Andrea Thomas ran 1:28:37 in 1997, a course record that stood for more than 10 years.
Brad Precosky, a top mountain runner from Anchorage, set the overall course record in 2002 with a time of 1:06:47.
Chris Gilbert, a three-time Alaska cross country champion at Wasilla High who ran at the University of Portland, ran 1:09:55 at the second annual alpine run in 1995.
Scotchmer crossed the line Saturday with a smile on his face, and despite the strenuous climb up Gavan Hill did not appear much the worse for the wear.
Other than some mud, a standard for alpine race participants, Scotchmer was unscathed.
"It was fun," Scotchmer said. "An hour nine was pretty good."
Paul Norwood, running in his first Alpine Adventure run, came home in 1:12:12 to take second place. He said he was pleased with the performance.
"I didn't expect to beat Sam, so it was (as) good a finish as I could have hoped for," Norwood said.
Ivan Grutter (1:13:15), Ben Clark (1:15:07) and Logan Evans (1:16:18) rounded out the top five finishers.
After Maynard and Folsom, Sara Poindexter (1:31:47), Rebecca Koslovich (1:32:36) and Cara Brenton (1:34:23) rounded out the top five female finishers.
Maynard, the female champion, ran cross country at Maine's Colby College with Megan Lehmann, who finished in 1:52:15 alongside her father, Don. And Micah Middaugh, the lead singer of the Michigan trio Breathe Owl Breathe, took 13th place in 1:25:53, fitting the race into a trip to Sitka for the HomeSkillet Festival.
There was anecdotal evidence Saturday that the course, which the Forest Service has worked to improve the last two years, may have gotten faster.
Several runners said the course was in great shape, and a formerly steep hill on the Harbor Mountain rim was taken out of the trail and replaced by a path with a gentler grade.
Sam Scotchmer (1:09:40), Paul Norwood (1:12:13), Ivan Grutter (1:13:15), Ben Clark (1:15:07), Logan Evans (1:16:18), Richard Forst (1:16:53), Stephen MacIntyre (1:18:47), Eric Speck (1:19:00), Noah Zogas (1:22:55), Paul Gloe (1:23:18), Kathleen Maynard (1:24:46), Lucas Chambers (1:25:44), Micah Middaugh (1:25:53), Matthew Shepard (1:27:04), Brian Mork (1:27:21), Jesse Brantman (1:27:32), Brian McNitt (1:27:45), Jon Martin (1:28:00), Tasha Folsom (1:28:08), Craig Powers (1:28:25), Jeremy Peterson (1:29:31), Shane Trout (1:31:39), Sara Poindexter (1:31:47), Rebecca Koslovich (1:32:36), Kevin Knox (1:33:57), Curt Steinfeldt (1:34:10), Cara Brenton (1:34:23), Therese Horan (1:34:34), Natalie Sattler (1:34:36), Faren McCrehin (1:35:30), Arthur Parker (1:35:33) Brett Wilcox (1:35:44), Gary Perensovich (1:35:51), Ed Bushnell (1:36:32), Sam Heindel (1:37:13), Marcelo Maiorano (1:37:42), Richard Kraft (1:38:36), Kristen Schmidt (1:38:41), Charles Horan (1:39:31), Chris Bryner (1:40:00), Jynal Radziukinas (1:40:12), Cliff Richter (1:40:19), Keith Anderson (1:41:43), Clayton Zimmerman (1:41:48), Herman Green (1:41:48), Lily Mihalik (1:42:29), Tim Fulton (1:43:40), Carolyn Heuer (1:44:19), Roslyn Dailey (1:44:55), Kristen Homer (1:45:19), Jack Davis (1:46:22), Don Lehmann (1:52:15), Megan Lehmann (1:52:15), Kasey Davis (1:52:37), Emily Davis (1:52:56), Joe Amorelli (1:53:46), David Paquin (1:54:39), Alaina Brown (1:54:47), Mike Wallisch (1:55:02), Penny Brown (1:55:31), Amy Nelson (1:59:50), Eric Haseltine (2:00:05), Jordan Wilson (2:00:35), Cindy Westergard (2:02:03), Bill Hughes (2:04:30), Sandy Walters (2:05:31), Tony Trout (2:07:46), Melissa Hantke (2:07:46), Rebecca Fredrick (2:13:02), Tami Bayne (2:14:54), Erika Knox (2:15:15), Peter Weiland (2:15:15), Julie White (2:17:07).