Taylor Ostrander, a 2012 graduate of Kenai Central High School, headed up several impressive performances by athletes with Kenai Peninsula connections at the Broken Arrow Skyrace, a series of races held Friday through Sunday in Squaw Valley, California.
Ostrander, now of Boise, Idaho, competed in the 11-kilometer race Saturday and took second among women and 11th overall. She was clocked at 1 hour, 5 minutes and 36 seconds, while winner Jennifer Schmidt of Davis, California, won at 1:04:34.
The race starts at 6,200 feet above sea level and eventually reaches a height of 7,500 feet above sea level. There is a total of about 2,200 feet of elevation gain and loss. There were 226 finishers in the race.
Ostrander attended Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, and made appearances in eight NCAA Division III national championships there — four in cross-country and four in the 3,000-meter steeplechase in outdoor track and field.
Denali Strabel, a 2008 graduate of Seward High School, finished fifth among women and 26th overall in the 26-kilometer race, which was held Sunday. Strabel, now of Anchorage, finished in 2:34:05 to become one of five women to break the previous course record. The victory went to Lindsay Webster of Ontario, Canada, in 2:22:35.
The race also starts at 6,200 feet above sea level and tops out at 8,800 feet above sea level. There is 5,000 feet of elevation gain and loss.
Strabel is a perennial contender in the Mount Marathon Race, held July 4 in Seward up and down the 3,022-foot peak overlooking town. She has finished in the top five the past four years, achieving her best time and place in 2018, when she was second in 52:00.
Boise’s Conor Deal, who played for the Kenai River Brown Bears for three seasons from 2011 to 2014, finished 21st overall and 17th among men in the 26-kilometer race. Deal clocked in at 2:32:33, while Andrew Douglas of Edinburgh, Great Britain, took the win by nearly 10 minutes at 1:56:31. Deal also had his best place and time at Mount Marathon last year, taking 18th in 51:08.
There were 424 finishers in the 26-kilometer race.
In its fourth edition, the Broken Arrow Skyrace totaled 1,500 competitors across all the races. There also was a vertical kilometer Friday and a 52K, which was two laps of the 26K, Saturday. The Broken Arrow event is growing in numbers and international prestige, having bumped up from 500 competitors in 2017.