What does K’esugi mean?
It means the Ancient One in Dena’ina. Traditionally the area was used as caribou hunting grounds.
Who are the two Dave Johnstons?
Dave Johnston the Elder (of Minus 148 Degrees fame) helped build the original trail in the mid-1970s, along with Pete Robinson, George Menard and the Youth Conservation Corps. It took 3-4 years to put in the basic trail. Brian Okonek had the idea to use Kesugi’s lateral moraine instead of some of the surrounding high country.
Dave Johnston the Younger (of Iditarod Trail Invitational fame), along with Andrea Hambach, created the Kesugi Ridge Traverse race in 2013.
What are the current course conditions?
Unknown. If you are thinking of heading to the trail for a recon, call the Alaska State Parks in Wasilla at 907-745-3975.
Will there be lots of snow up high?
The Denali State Park ranger says 2017 was actually a lower-than-average snow year and he is not concerned about snow on the course for race day.
Will we have to wade Byers Creek one mile from the finish like in 2016?
No, a temporary bridge has been installed.
Why was the race moved up to June?
On Sept. 12, 2015, the race featured hypothermia-inducing conditions (rain and sub-40-degree temperatures). I took over in 2016 and moved the date to August 21; the weather was inclement but not quite hypothermia-inducing (high 40s and rain). In hopes of better weather, and wanting to get ahead of most other long Alaska running races, I moved it to June 24 this year. The Denali State Park ranger told me July was not an option because the park is too busy then.
Do I have to bring the mandatory gear if it’s sunny and 70 degrees at the start?
Yes, weather in Alaska can change quickly and dramatically. Also, you may need the gear if you become lost or injured.
Why are there no aid stations?
Because Kesugi Ridge is a remote trail and hauling food and drink to the course is not feasible. Volunteers at are already hauling heavy packs with supplies to Ermine Hill Checkpoint.
A standard race pack has plenty of room for food, drink and emergency gear. Also, spectators are allowed to hand-off sustenance and drinks to racers.
For emergency purposes, will cell phones work along the course?
Cell coverage is spotty at best. Don’t rely on it. Course volunteers will use DeLorme inReach devices or Sat phones.
Can I start before 9 a.m.?
Why does the Half Traverse cost the same as the Full Traverse?
Because the Half Traverse requires just as much organization, if not more, than the Full Traverse does.
Is there an additional Ultrasignup registration fee?
Yes, but the race director absorbs that cost, so you are only charged $50.
Can I switch from the Full Traverse to the Half Traverse or vice-versa?
No, the intent of the race is to have a nearly even number of participants for each event.
If I’m in the Full Traverse but want to stop at the Half Traverse finish line, can I still get a result?
You can stop halfway, and are encouraged to if you’re having an especially tough day, are in danger of missing the final cutoff or are injured. But doing so will result in a DNF. The race director has learned that if you give people a bailout without penalty, some racers will take it even when there’s no good reason to stop.
If I finish the Half Traverse but feel good and want to keep going to Byers Lake, can I?
No. The sweepers will already have their hands full with the number of Full Traverse participants. Sign up for the Full Traverse next year!
Can the sweepers turn me back?
Yes, if they determine you are underprepared and unlikely to meet the cutoffs, they can turn you back at any time.
What if I want to keep going?
You can’t. If you attempt to, you will not be allowed to participate at Kesugi in the future.
Can I wear headphones?
Headphones are discouraged. Bears have been encountered at Kesugi in past races.
Can I bring my dog?
Racers cannot bring dogs. Spectators can bring dogs but need to have them under control.
Can I get a refund if I decide not to race? Can I transfer my bib to a friend?
No and no.
Can I get a deferral to 2018 if I am unable to race?
You can ask for one, but will need a really good reason if a deferral is to be granted.
Is there a wait list for those who didn’t register on time?
No, the number of entrants has jumped dramatically from recent years so the race director will not attempt to fill the spots of those who drop.
Should I let the race director know if I am unable to race?
Yes, please do. It helps our planning knowing how many people to expect.
What is the camping situation?
Denali State Park is generously setting up a special camping area June 23rd and 24th for the Kesugi race. It will accommodate about 100 people. If you stay at Byers, please camp here and not in the general campground.
Will there be a charge for camping?
To be determined. The race director is meeting with DSP to hash out details on June 5.
Where can I stay if I don’t camp at race headquarters?
Mary’s McKinley View Lodge (Mile 134.5) is one option. A fancier option is Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge (Mile 133). There are also many pullouts along the highway where camping is possible.
Camping at the Little Coal Creek trailhead parking lot is not permitted.
When can I pick up my race bib?
You can get it at race headquarters Friday night or at the race start until 8:45 a.m. Saturday.
Do I need to check in at Byers headquarters on Saturday morning?
No. But you do need to check in at the start even if you’ve previously collected your bib.
Will there be a shuttle to the start?
To be determined. If not, carpooling is imperative.
Will the Half Traverse finishers be shuttled to Byers once they reach the Ermine Hill Trailhead?
Yes. Details to be determined.
Will there be swag?
Yes, there will be an item of Kesugi swag for every participant and volunteer. There will also be prizes for the top performers as well as some randomly awarded prizes.
Will there be beer?
Yes. 49th State Brewing Co. has signed on a sponsor and will keep us well supplied!
What are the course records?
Despite horrendous weather, Scott Patterson set the men’s record of 4:38:05 in 2015.
Christie Haupert holds the women’s record of 5:53:43 from 2014.