APU dominates Wilderness Classic, shows its mettle as an Outside magazine Top 25 campus

Environmental science instructor Luc Mehl claimed first place in the Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic, a bruising adventure race dominated this year by Alaska Pacific University.

Five of seven finishers are APU faculty or alumnus.

Fifteen entrants began the race July 8, following a Thompson Pass-to-McCarthy route devised by Mehl and considered by many to be one of toughest courses since the Classic was first run in 1982.

“I was definitely nervous there at the finish for a minute,” Mehl told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

He said he’d expected to find several other trekkers – including veteran Classic racer and APU Environmental Science Professor Roman Dial – waiting for him.
Instead Mehl and his traveling partner, Environmental Science graduate student Josh Mumm, bushwhacked roughly 130 miles through dense alder and devil’s club in three days, 22.5 hours.

Todd Tumolu, BA, Outdoor Studies,’10, and his partner, Gerard Ganey, finished second. Dial finished third while John Sykes, BA, Counseling Psychology, ’11, finished fourth with Environmental Science Associate Professor Michael Loso.

Mehl and Sykes were on a team that won last year’s race as well. Mehl grew up in McGrath in central Alaska and began teaching physical sciences at APU in 2011.
The Classic challenges athletes to see who can travel fastest and lightest – while getting by on least sleep – through some of the roughest terrain in Alaska. Past courses have crossed the Alaska, Brooks and Wrangells mountain ranges.

Named one of Outside magazine’s Top 25 college campuses for outdoor studies and fieldwork courses, APU is a student-centered private university committed to experiential learning.

Alaska Pacific University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.