P.J. Hill

P.J. Hill is the “Father” of the Tour of Anchorage. P.J. organized the Tour of Anchorage race from 1989 until 2013. In his 25 years of leadership, the race grew from humble beginnings, with a dozen participants, to become the second largest ski marathon in North America.

An economics professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage, commercial salmon fisherman, and marathon runner, P.J. began cross country skiing in his thirties, during the mid-1980s, and soon became an avid masters level competitor. The cheerful enthusiasm and can-do spirit that he brought to his new skiing passion soon transferred into work to establish the Tour.

Initially, P.J. helped build the bridges over Campbell Creek and create trail links so that the Tour could go from the Hillside trails all the way to Kincaid across the Anchorage Bowl. His efforts helped convince the Municipality of Anchorage and State Department of Transportation to put in the Tudor Road bridge for trail users, connecting the Chester Creek and Campbell Creek bike trails and the Tour of Anchorage Trail in Far North Bicentennial Park. As the longtime Tour of Anchorage organizer, P.J. had to round up volunteers to shovel snow into the tunnels, man the feed stations, set up the multiple start areas, set up the finish area, and arrange for timing. He also had to make sure registration and awards were ready and hope that Mother Nature didn’t throw in last minute headaches. P.J. would have preferred to have on a race bib but always seemed to pull off a great event.

The Tour of Anchorage culminates the cross country ski season in Anchorage, and many local skiers gauge their success each year on their individual performance at this race, whether or not they are truly competitive. Tour of Anchorage fees have been a major contributor to NSAA’s financial health and growth in membership. The creation of the event and longtime commitment by P.J. to the Tour has been a true labor of love. For his commitment to the event and the club, NSAA honored P.J. with a Lifetime Membership in 1997.

Photo credit: Barry Johnson