Our friend and local running legend, Drew Harrington peacefully passed away on October 28th, at the age of 40 after a six-year-long battle with brain cancer. He was surrounded by family and friends.
I don’t think I could do a better job capturing Drew’s many contributions to the running and outdoor communities than Bob Gillis already has. It is with Bobby’s permission that I am passing his sumary along to the rest of you.
“Drew had many friends in DNR and those close to him knew his calm, understated tenacity. His illness would knock him back but never knock him down. Prior to his diagnosis, Drew was one of the state’s top endurance runners. Over the last six years he continued to compete in numerous 100-mile ski and summer wilderness races. As late as this summer, he completed a wilderness race in the Sawtooth Mountains and hiked the 60-mile historic Fairbanks to Circle Trail.
Drew gave back generously to the outdoor community. He was a director of the Interior Alaska trail running series. He was a founding member of the Tanana River Challenge―a multi-sport winter trail race on the Tanana River and Rosie Creek trail system. He was also founder and race director of the Angel Creek 50, the Interior’s premier ultra-marathon running race held in the Chena River State Recreation Area―a race so popular that the roster regularly filled months before the event date, drawing participants from the lower 48 and Canada.
Perhaps his biggest contributions to the community were his volunteer efforts on local trail systems. Drew regularly groomed the Rosie Creek trail system throughout the winter for local skiers, fatbikers, runners, dog walkers, and saunterers. He often organized work parties in the summer and fall to brush miles of trail. In times of tight State budgets and in cooperation with the Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation, he donated his own time and materials for restoration of the Chena Dome Trail shelter in the Chena River State Recreation area. Over two summers, Drew recruited friends to hike materials several miles into the non-motorized area and together they repaired or replaced the wood stove, floor, exterior walls, cook shelf, and benches. They finished it off with a new coat of paint and an additional rainwater catchment system for clean drinking water. Fittingly, his DNR colleagues have worked with Parks and Outdoor Recreation to have the trail shelter officially renamed the Drew Harrington Trail Shelter.
Drew carried his illness with quiet grace and a good dose of defiance. His passing leaves a big hole in DNR, the lives of his friends and loved ones, and the Interior Alaska outdoor recreation community.”
Though Drew will be deeply missed, I know his legacy will survive the ages. Please keep him and his family in your thoughts.
With sympathy and regret,
Nick Janssen