Anna Dalton running

Anna Dalton

The 90 minutes Anchorage’s Anna Dalton spent racing on the American Birkebeiner trails in Cable, Wis., on Saturday made her feel like she was home.

Punchy hills, muddy sections, some single-track terrain.

“It really felt just like running at Kincaid Park,” Dalton said.

Her result likewise proved comforting.

Dalton, 33, seized her first national title by winning the USA Track and Field Half-Marathon Trail Running Championship in 1 hour, 30 minutes, 17 seconds, finishing more than two minutes clear of the competition.

And to think Dalton almost skipped the race. After a summer of travel that included attending weddings in New York in August and last week, in Vermont, she considered bagging Saturday’s race.

“I thought, ‘I’m so tired,’” Dalton said. “I almost bailed, but I’m glad I didn’t.”

In addition to pocketing her first national title, Dalton earned $1,000. She also finished ninth overall, just three spots behind Anchorage dentist Chad Trammell, 38, who finished sixth among men in 1:25:36.

Dalton, director of grants for the Alaska Conservation Foundation, said she began Saturday’s race conservatively, which allowed her to pick her way through the field. She said she moved into the lead at about the nine-mile mark on the 13.1-mile course that featured more than 1,000 feet of elevation gain. She pushed hard on a long climb in the 10th mile to give her a cushion over runner-up Megan Lacy (1:32:34) and third-place finisher Renae Anderson (1:36:08).

“I felt really strong on that climb,’’ Dalton said. “I was able to run the whole thing and I think the other women were hiking it.”

Dalton last year won the famed and difficult Equinox Marathon in Fairbanks, where she slashed nearly eight minutes off Christy Marvin’s 2018 race record and clocked 3:07:21.

Dalton owns a personal best of 2:44:18 in the marathon and finished 212th (2:49:24) in the 2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta. The difficult course there, and gusty conditions, tormented much of the field – nearly 60 of about 450 entrants did not finish – and that made Dalton’s finish in the top half of the field particularly impressive.

The next big race on Dalton’s schedule is the California International Marathon in Sacramento on Dec. 4. The CIM is where Dalton in 2018 delivered her personal-best for 26.2 miles.

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