Great Alaskan Endurance Race
The 2024 Denali135 will be held on June 21st.
Registration for the 2024 race opens Sept. 1, 2023 and closes when 50 runners have registered.
Alaska…….Denali……Big, Wild & Wide Open Places.
With 20,310’ tall Denali and surrounding Alaska Range Mountains and glaciers as its backdrop, the 135 Mile Denali Highway is the setting for the spectacular Denali135, Denali100K and Denali50K Endurance Races. The Denali Highway was the original and only road into Denali National Park from 1957 until 1971 and it is still as breathtaking and jaw dropping today as it was more than 50 years ago.
Hardy and qualified adventurous athletes from around the World are invited to challenge themselves along the entire or half length of the historic gravel road from Paxson Alaska, the headwaters of the wild Gulkana River, to Cantwell Alaska…. Adjacent to the entrance to Denali National Park. The newly added Denali50K takes runners from the highest point on the Denali Highway, Maclaren Summit, to the finish at Alpine Creel Lodge.
Superlative panoramic vistas reach out for miles in every direction bathed in the nearly 20hrs of arctic daylight each day during the race. National Geographic rightly called the Denali Highway one of the top ten most scenic roads in North America.
In 2024, the Denali135 will be limited to 50 runners and their crew and pacers.
The Denali100k will be limited to 50 runners and their crew and pacers.
The Denali 135 was first run by Race Director Sean Tracy & running partner Bill McCue in 2019. The current Denali100K course record (9:26) is held by Marshall Genn and the current Denali135 course record (26:45) is held by Christian Argello. The current Denali50K course record is held by Marcin Zaleski of the UK with a time of 3:59.
- Sept. 1st 2023 Registration Opens.
- May 1st or when 50 runners have registered.
- May 7th Qualifying races must be submitted.
**Runners will be informed of their registration acceptance if they are received along with their qualifying race info.
*** Runners and Crew & Pacer Rules will be sent within 30 days of their registration acceptance. Once runners are accepted, they will be responsible for passing the Crew & Pacer Rules onto their respective crews and pacers.
**There will be no registration refunds for the Denali135, Denali100K or Denali50K race. Possible deferments to the next year’s race may…MAY…be made at the sole discretion of the race director. As you can imagine, significant logistics are involved in organization of this race and so we simply are unable to make refunds…..deferments possibly…refunds…sorry.
Denali135 Race Schedule
June 20th – 4pm Mandatory Pre-Race Briefing. Dinner. Gakona Lodge
June 21st – 5:00am Race Start at starting line at Paxson end of Denali Highway.
June 23rd – 5:00am Race Cut-off at finish line near Cantwell end of Denali Highway.
June 23rd – 6:00pm Post Race Party/Dinner Denali Education Center Talkeetna Campus
Please visit the following pages for Very Important Event Details
Race Format & Time Cut-Offs
Individual runners with mandatory support crew and optional pacers.
Maximum of 48hrs allotted to complete the Denali135
Maximum of 18hrs allotted to complete the Denali100K
Maximum of 9hrs allotted to complete the Denali50K
See cut off times on the Schedule & Logistics page.
Pacers and Crew
Each runner must be accompanied by a support vehicle/crew who can supply food and water and support to the runner during and throughout the race. One pacer at a time may also accompany the runner. This pacer can also share in crewing/driving the support vehicle. No one Denali135 pacer may run more than 60 miles with their runner. Pacers can only join their runner at 40 or beyond.
Support Vehicle and Crew & Pacer Rules/Details will be sent to runners within 30 days of their registrations being accepted.
Time Cut Offs and Awards
Runners completing the Denali135 course in 48hrs or under will receive a “wildly” unique Denali135 belt buckle and official Denali135 finishers shirt. The overall men’s and woman’s winners will receive special Denali135 awards. .
Runners completing the Denali100K course in 18hrs or under will receive a one of a kind Denali100k Belt Buckle and Denali100K finishers shirt. There will be overall men’s and women’s winners special awards as well. Denali50K runners have 9 hours to complete the race.
Denali135 Applicants must have completed at least 4 ultra- running races in the previous 3 years with distances of 50 miles or greater for each race, at least one of which was a 100 mile race or longer before applying for the Denali135. The Race Director may also allow runners to register who have demonstrated similarly difficult endurance events but the decision to accept the runner based on prior endurance experiences is entirely at the discretion of the Race Director.
Denali100K Applicants must have completed at least one 50K race and two marathons in the previous 3 years or be able to prove to the Race Director that they have sufficient training to have a reasonably good chance of completing the race within the allotted time.
Denali50K Applicants must have completed 2 previous marathons with one having been a trail marathon with limited aid station support.
Qualifying races must have been completed within the maximum time allotted for the race.
In 2024 the Denali135 will be limited to 50 runners. The Denali100K and Denali50K has the same runner cap of 50 runners.
The Denali135 is a point to point race along the length of the 135 mile Denali Highway with an approx. total elevation gain of 8800’. The race starts in Paxson Alaska on the East side of the Denali Highway and finishes in Cantwell at the West side of the Denali Highway.
The Denali100K is also a point to point race which starts at approx. halfway across the Denali Highway at the Alpine Creek Lodge and then heads west before finishing outside Cantwell Alaska at the same finish line as the Denali135 runners.
Denali135 Runners. Runners and crews will begin the Denali135 at 5am June 21st at Paxson Alaska…The crossroads of the Richardson and Denali Highways.
Denali100K Runners. Runners and crews will start their race at 6pm on June 21st from the Alpine Creek Lodge approx. halfway across the Denali Highway.
For 21 miles the Highway is paved as it slowly rises up from the Gulkana River watershed to the Tangle Lakes area. A chain of Lakes listed on the National Historic Register for its important archeological value. A small roadhouse and lodge (Tangle River Inn) at mile 20 may offer lodging, a small basic restaurant, gas and limited supplies. As of the right now, the Tangle River Inn is closed and for sale so we’re not sure what it’s status will be on race day.
There the road becomes hard pack (Mostly) chip sealed gravel and gently rises and falls before climbing to 4,086’ Maclaren Summit Pass at mile 36.8. Down from the summit to the Maclaren River Lodge after the bridge over the Maclaren River at mile 42. This lodge offers limited lodging, a small restaurant, gas and limited supplies.
The amazing subalpine scenery continues on and racers and crew will come to Alpine Creek Lodge at mile 68 (Slightly more than halfway!) The lodge offers rooms and cabins, restaurant and light supplies. Racers, pacers and their crews press on until they reach the Susitna River Bridge at mile 79.5.
Leaving the Susitna River Valley, the road continues on now with no services or lodging until the end. Runners, pacers and crew need to plan this section well because other than the road and occasional passing motorist, they will be alone on the Denali Highway for the next 50 miles until they reach the finish outside Cantwell. Mount Deborah and Hess keep participants company until, weather permitting, 20,320’ Denali makes it’s appearance to the west and rewards the persistent with jaw dropping views of North America’s tallest peak.
* The total running distance travelled during the Denali 135 may vary by runner but on average, the runners taking on the Denali135 will travel 131 miles.
Runner Mandatory Equipment
- Spot GPS or Garmin Tracker (Spirit-Trips has them for rent on Ultrasignup or you may use your own)
- Buff for warmth, dust and bug protection.
- Sufficient Water Bottles or Hydration Vest
- 500 Calories of energy bars, Gu, gels or equivalent at all times.
- High Visibility reflective vest to be worn from Dusk to Dawn (Only about 4 hours…if that)
- Flashing blinker from Dusk to Dawn
- Runner Bib with racer number visible at all times
Pacer Mandatory Equipment
- Buff for warmth, dust and bug protection.
- Sufficient Water Bottles/Hydration Vest
- Quality Headlamp and fresh batteries.
- High Visibility Reflective vest from Dusk to Dawn
- Flashing blinker from Dusk to Dawn
- Pacer Bib with racer number visible at all times
Support Crew Mandatory Equipment
- “RUNNERS AHEAD” Car magnet for all for sides of their vehicle (Spirit Trips provides)
- SUV, Van or RV/ Camper as support vehicle. Must be in good working order.
- Sufficient water and nutrition for their runner’s entire race.
- Basic first aid kit.
**Crews need to buy their food in Anchorage for the two days that they will be on the Denali Highway for the race because provisions on the course are extremely limited at best. Currently, gas is available at only one place (Maclaren River Lodge) along the course so all crew vehicles should be topped off as much as possible when starting the race at Paxson.
Contributing back to the communities where we hold our races is super important to us at Spirit Trips. In the case of the Denali50K, Denali100K & Denali135, we have chosen to raise awareness and donations for the Denali Education Center. The people at The Denali Education Center strive to bring awareness and appreciation for Denali National Park and their programs and outreach range from taking visitors on 2 hour interpretive guided natural history walks to multi day immersive nature programs for youth who without the Denali Education Centers outreach and passion, would never have a chance to experience the wonder of Denali.
Spirit Trips will be donating a portion of each race registration fee to The Denali Education Center and we strongly encourage our runners and their crew & pacers to do donate however they feel they can.
To share the words of Henry David Thoreau…..
“In Wilderness is the preservation of the World”