Man runs 92-miles of Alaska's Denali park road

Tue Aug 2, 2011 10:40am EDT
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By Yereth Rosen

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters Life!) - A U.S. marathon racer braved a sore hip and a close encounter with a caribou to become the first athlete on record to run the 92 miles of the road stretching through Denali National Park.

Bill VonderMehden, 34, a chef who works at one of the park's lodges, finished the run in a little over 25 hours spanning July 21-22.

Running the entire road -- the only one that goes through the park -- was an unusual experience, even for someone accustomed to long-distance foot races, he said.

"It's one thing to do a road race where there are aid stations and people cheering you on," he said. "Out there, there's no aid stations. It's just you and the moose and the bears."

At one point, he said, he nearly had a head-on confrontation with a caribou, but the animal veered off before the two collided.

Aside from the wild animals and mountain scenery, the only company VonderMehden had for the entire run was a friend on a bicycle.

VonderMehden first tried to run the length of the park road last year, but had to stop because of an injured ankle. This year, he had similar problems with a hip, but persevered at a slower pace.

"I was really just kind of upset because I knew my time could have been several hours faster," he said.   Continued...