ANCHORAGE - The University of Alaska Anchorage announced Friday that it will suspend this year's Crow Pass Crossing race. The decision followed extensive discussions among university leadership about safety and the university's responsibility to bring additional communication and medical support resources to the race. The iconic, annual 24-mile mountain run from Girdwood to Eagle River through Crow Pass had been scheduled for July 22.

“This one-year pause will help ensure we can add the resources necessary to respond swiftly to incidents on the trail,” said race director and UAA Associate Athletic Director Michael Friess. “We have always gone above and beyond to ensure that participating athletes are qualified and that they understand and embrace the risks associated with this race.”

Friess, who has been been involved with the Crow Pass Crossing for 30 of its 33 years went on to say that although the risks will never be diminished, UAA can improve its ability to respond to incidents.

“The safety of runners and preserving the awesome beauty of the Crow Pass trail will continue to be our priorities in organizing this event,” Friess said.

The coming weeks and months will include meetings with key stakeholders and authorities, including the mountain-running community, wildlife experts and Alaska State Park authorities, to assess UAA's race plan and determine augmentations to the safety, communication and medical response elements of this classic Alaska race.

“It is incumbent upon the university to lead the way in terms of safety, education and prevention,” said Pat Shier, interim vice chancellor for Administrative Services.

Race registrants received an email communication today from Friess announcing the suspension of this year's race. The message included an option to receive a refund or to donate this year's registration fee to the Eagle River Nature Center and Healthy Futures in honor of Patrick "Jack" Cooper, the teen who died as a result of a bear mauling on Bird Ridge on June 18.