HALL of FAME
The Alaska Winter Stars Hall of Fame was established to celebrate the 20 year anniversary of the program. Hall of Fame athletes exemplify both outstanding athleticism but also strength of character. Please click each link below to read more about our highlighted athletes.
2017 - Tom Coolidge
Tom was no stranger to endurance sports when he joined Winter Stars, but Winter Stars has challenged him to become the athlete he is today.
Thomas Henry Coolidge was born at Ft. Monmouth, New Jersey on August 2, 1950. Tom was an adventurer and he and a pack of friends caused his mother endless worry. His family moved frequently with the Army and his father’s last career assignment was in Arizona. Tom attended the University of Arizona in Tucson. Upon graduation, he served in the Army from 1972-1974. He returned to college for a second time and graduated with a degree in civil engineering. Tom worked for the US Public Health
Service for more than 30. First on the Navajo Reservation (where he met his wife Shelley in 1979). In 1981 Tom and Shelley ended up in Anchorage.
Tom started cross country skiing in the mountains of southern Colorado in the late 1970’s. The skis were wide and heavy and he wore army surplus wool pants. When he moved Anchorage he upgraded to no-wax trail skis and wool knickers! His technique, equipment and his ski attire improved somewhat over the years. Along the way Tom and Shelley had two daughters who also skied with their father. Tom
participated in the citizen’s race series in the 1980’s and 90’s as well as the annual Tour of Anchorage.
The first thing he said after finishing his first 50 K was “there’s no reason to ever do that again.” But, Tom did it again and again. Endurance racing is where Tom found his calling. Tom participated in mostly the longer races at Kincaid, the Oosik, Winter Stars Fireweed relay teams, World Master’s in McCall, Idaho.
Tom’s first marathon was the 1979 Phoenix Marathon. It was not a great success for Tom, but he is never one to give up and he began training for marathons again after moving to Anchorage. He participated in the Humpy’s Marathon, and the Mayor’s Marathon and the Tucson marathon in Arizona. Tom Qualified and ran The Boston Marathon twice and In 2010 he won his age group (60-64) at the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC.
Tom loves the mountain races and has run most of the Mount Running Series. He is a Bird Ridge “age dominator,” that means his race time is lower than his age. That got easier as he got older! He has run Mt. Marathon probably 25 times and set a new record for the 60-69 age group of 1 hour and 6 minutes in 2011 and in 2013 he broke his own record. He still holds the record for his age group at 59 minutes and 14 seconds.
In 2006, Tom discovered the Susitna 100 - something new to focus his training on. Tom skied the 100 mile course 7 times in 7 years. His best time was 19 hrs: 3 min (longest time 32 hrs 4 min). Tom switched to the bike division 2014 - 2017.
In 2009 Tom retired from the Public Health service. And it came as no surprise that he immediately set off on a thousand mile, month-long solo bike trip to Inuvik, the town at the end of the road in Canada’s North West Territories.
Last year, Tom entered the Iditarod Trail Invitational, a race from Knick to McGrath, 350 miles. As luck would have it, It was the worst weather ever. Lots of racers scratched and flew out from lodges along the way. Tom stuck to the trail even though he sometimes inched along pushing his bike through deep snow into the wind. He reached McGrath in 7 days, 4 hours and 18 minutes with frostbitten fingers and nose.
Tom’s credits his athletic improvement to his participation in Alaska Winter Stars. The year-round training with emphasis on strength, speed and endurance has improved Tom’s performance significantly. The coaching and camaraderie of fellow master’s athletes makes the training an enjoyable social experience. A Winter Stars Lifestyle.
2017 - Tara Hamilton
I am proud to be able to introduce my sister Tara into the first class of the AWS Hall of Fame. She was with him from the beginning, starting when he coached for Spyder and then continuing on when he created AWS. We were out together when we saw Jan at REI and he told us he was starting his own program. Even with our years of experience listening to him, we had to ask what the name was a few times before we understood that it was Alaska Winter Stars!
Jan asked me to share a couple stories about Tara in addition to some of her results and I have a few that stand out. From a young age, she was a natural athlete and very competitive. She skied with Jr. Nordic in elementary school and also starting coming to Team Alaska Track Club with me when she was in middle school. Even then, she was always trying to improve and go faster. I am four years older than her and the first time she beat me in a running race, she was just 12 years old! She wanted to beat her PR in a 5km so she asked me to pace her at a local event. About a mile to go, she decided I wasn't running fast enough and took off. I have been chasing her in races ever since!
She is also fiercely independent and wanted to forge her own path. Since I was at college on a ski scholarship, she decided she was a runner. She continued to run with Team Alaska and traveled to a number of national races in middle school. She was still skiing with Jan at Spyder and raced at Arctic Winter Games when it was at Chugiak but when she started high school she said she was only going to run. I remember talking with her on the phone and telling her to think about skiing just because it would be good cross training for running during the winter. At the time, the Dome didn't exist so Team Alaska ran in the halls at Bartlett. She said she would think about it but she wasn't going to race. I said they might want her to race if she was on the team. Her final statement to me was "Fine but I won't race hard." Well we all know how that worked out, she can't hold back once the starter says go! Four months later she called me having won Ski Meister her freshman year, saying that she loved skiing.
1997 Arctic Winter Games in Chugiak, AK
1998-2001 Alaska State Ski Meister
1998 Junior Nationals in McCall, ID (3rd 5km classic ) Dave Quinn award)
1999 Junior Nationals in Anchorage, AK (1st- 10km skate and 10km classic)
2000 Junior Nationals in Jackson, NH (2 nd 10km classic and 5km skate, lost less then second to Kikkan, 3rd -sprint)
2001 Junior Nationals in Ishpeming, MI (1st- 5km classic, 2nd 10k skate and Sprint)
2000 World Juniors in Slovakia
2001 World Juniors in Poland 34th sprint, 14th 5km classic, 32nd 15km skate (the best US female performance at Classic style this time)
2002 World Juniors in Germany 26th 15km classic
Competed at 2000-2005 US Nationals
2002 National Champion 5km Classic in Bozeman, 9th 5km skate, 23rd 10km classic, 32 skate sprint
2002-2005 skied at Denver University
2002 NCAA in Anchorage, AK 29th 5km classic, 30th 15km skate
2003 NCAA in Middlebury, VT 28th 5km skate, 16th 15km classic
2004 NCAA in Auburn, CA 15th 15km classic, 25th place 5km skate
2005 NCAA in Stowe, VT All American 5km Skate 6th place
17th place 15km classic