We are very excited to announce a very special race course for the 25th Anniversary event in 2009. The course was selected after extensive planning and research by event staff, and for the first time, will be visiting a different part of the state, focusing on the South Central coast including Prince William Sound. The new route includes a whole new set of challenges for racers, and builds from short flat stages in the beginning of the week, to a thrilling — and gruelingÂ — finale at the top of Hatcher Pass on the final day. The course covers some of the most beautiful terrain in the world, passing five glaciers, climbing over three mountain passes, and visiting a new slate of towns and villages along the way. There is no doubt, that the course is the toughest in the modern era of the event, and will require every entrant to train specifically for the more than 16,000Â feet of climbing. For the first time, transport between stages will include ferries, making the logistics more challenging than ever while simultaneously showcasing the majestic beauty of the state to racers, friends, family, volunteers and staff. Also for the first time, all racers will be required to participate in a qualifying event. Event qualifiers are intended to provide an indication of athlete preparedness only. Details about the qualifying process will be announced no later than November 1st. Racers should NOT let this hold up the process for registering, and should be aware that there will be numerous qualifying events throughout the US as well as some in Europe.
Stage 1 Exit Glacier Time Trial, Seward (14 miles) The opening stage begins on the north end of Seward, at the Exit Glacier. Not only does it promise to set the stage for the week of racing, the out and back time trial takes place on a pristine stretch of road in the shadow of the glacier.
Stage 2 Seward Circuit Race, Seward (10 miles) The Seward Circuit race showcases the athletes to the people of Seward, and to tourists visiting this beautiful, coastal fishing town. The course is rolling, with a small challenging hill on the back stretch.
Stage 3 Hope to Portage Road Race, Hope (46 miles) Day two begins with a tough road race that starts in the small town of Hope on the Turnagin arm. This is the first challenge for all racers, and should provide an indicator of who’s fit (and who’s not) as racers climb over Turnagin pass on the way to the portage glacier (on the west side of the tunnel to Whittier)
Stage 4 Girdwood Time Trial, Girdwood (21 miles)The Girdwood Time Trial will be the longest individual time trial in the history of the event. The race takes place on the bike path that connects Girdwood to the town of Bird to the North. Beautiful views and the occasional black bear highlight the path, which is an opportunity for strong riders or TT specialists to grab some time on their rivals.
Stage 5 Tour of Cordova, Cordova (37 miles)Although Cordova is not technically an island, it is only accessible by ferry, and the people who live in this quaint fishing village (where cruise ships do not dock) are thrilled to host a stage of the Sadler’s Alaska Challenge. The stage is a relatively flat one, and takes place on roads that normally have minimal traffic…and expect a great reception from the great people of Cordova.
Stage 6 Thompson Pass Road Race, Valdez (55 miles)As racers arrive on the Ferry from Cordova, they must prepare themselves for the longest (and potentially toughest) stae of the race. Beginning at the terminus of the Alaskan Pipeline just outside of Valdez, the course takes a sharp turn upwards and over the notorious Thompson pass. During the race recon trip in mid-July of 2008, event organizers encountered snow at the summit.
Stage 7 Lake Louise Road Race, Wrangell St Elias Park (54 miles)Beginning at the Wrangell St Elias National Park Visitor Center, this stage covers beautiful terrain as racers make the turn on the Glenn Highway back towards Anchorage. Both a recovery stage and a transitional one, there will be a lot on the line…watch for some surprise attacks before the final Stage 8 where all bets are off.
Stage 8 Hatcher Pass Road Race, Palmer (30 miles)The first-ever mountaintop finish for the Sadler’s Alaska Challenge! This stage is one of the most majestic and absolutely brutal races ever designed for wheelchair and handcycle racers. With an “Alpe D’ Huez” style mystique, racers will climb in the fog towards the old Independence Mine State Park which sits firmly at the Summit. As the finish of the entire event, racers will have to overcome the elements, the steep grade, and 6 days of fatigue to finish this stage…a finish that promises to leave them physically and emotionally spent…and simultaneously satisfied that is is finally…all over.