Mount Ripinsky Run champion Chandler Kemp of Haines on Wednesday chopped a whopping 44 seconds off the race course record he set three years ago in the Fourth of July classic, etching the new mark at 24:28.
Kemp topped 21 other finishers on the round-trip course that starts at the American Legion Hall and climbs to a 1,200 feet turnaround on the mountain’s south flank.
Kemp, 22, recently completed a collegiate track career, competing in the 5,000-meter, 10,000-meter and steeplechase events. A few months ago, he was running 100 miles a week.
“When he took off he was flying. It was like the 10-year-old kids who sprint at the start and then flame out, but you knew he was going to keep going,” said competitor and race veteran Chip Lende.
Lende’s daughter, J.J. Lende, age 21, finished second and set a new woman’s record, knocking 16 seconds off a previous record of 32:50 she had shared with Jessica Kayser of Haines.
Lende, a 2008 Haines High School graduate and classmate of Kemp’s who also ran on college teams, said she could afford let go in the race. “I didn’t care if I got injured. It was great fun.”
The oldest competitor Wednesday, Ralph Borders of Haines, 60, finished fourth in 34:16.
Fifty-two-year-old Vince Hansen, who finished 11th in 40:11, joked that Borders was making it difficult for master’s runners like him to get any credit at all.
Kemp said he’s in better shape than in 2009, that he felt good and that race conditions were ideal. In dry summers, conifer needles and trail dust can create slick conditions. “The duff wasn’t too slippery and the temperature wasn’t too hot this morning… I thought I had a good shot at it.”
Chip Lende, the race’s longest-running active competitor, said he expects Kemp’s mark to stick for a while. “I don’t know physically how you could do it any faster without risking (serious injury). Chandler knows the course well and he’s one of the best running athletes we’ve ever had.”
Knowledge of the trail is critical strategy to veteran runners, who know when the course’s few flat and downhill sections come, and when to push themselves between such breaks. “You have to know where you can rest and where you can’t,” Lende said.
Shaye Otten of Haines, 13, was the youngest competitor, finishing 14th in 47:27. “I thought it was really fun. It was easier going up than down. I was trying not to die going down, it was so steep.”
Official results were: 1) Chandler Kemp, 24:28, 2) J.J. Lende, 32:34, 3) Zach Bibb, 32:45, 4) Ralph Borders, 34:16, 5) Corey Piper, 35:11, 6) Blake Hamilton, 35:14, 7) Chip Lende, 36:49, 8) Scott Daehler, 39:03, 9) Alissa Henry, 39:10, 10) Jacob Tuenge, 41.08, 11) Vince Hansen, 40:11, 12) Heather Lende, 43:31, 13) Hannah Lowery, 44:52, 14) Shaye Otten, 47:27, 15) Mack Knotts, 47:37, 16) Matt Jones, 51:22, 17) Lori Webster, 53:28, 18) Erica Nehlhaus, 59:13, 19) Laura Nehlhaus, 1:03:14, 20) Jessie Shred, 1:25:05; 21) Katherin Dole, 1:25:07; 22) Jana Middleswart, 1:30.