Alpine marathoner

Running world class races at high altitudes was a specialty of the late Lyndon Ellefson. The 21st annual 5-kilometer run/walk and half-marathon – both in his memory – take place Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019, in Barron. Photo contributed

More than two decades have passed since the untimely death of 39-year-old Barron native Lyndon Ellefson.

But the Barron Area Community Center is keeping alive the memory of a world-class “alpine marathoner” as it hosts the 21st annual Lyndon Ellefson memorial half-marathon and 5-kilometer run/walk. The races begin at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019, in front of the BACC.

“He’s probably the most dedicated runner I’ve ever known,” Tom Koser, radio station owner and a classmate of Ellefson’s when they graduated from Barron High School in 1977, said in an interview Monday, Sept. 9.

“I grew up in Almena,” Koser said. “I remember when Lyndon would run from Barron to Almena, shoot baskets with me at my home, and then run back home.”

A world-class “alpine marathoner,” Ellefson, then of Vail, Colo., was running in the Italian Alps when he fell to his death in July 1998.

Koser said that he and Ellefson’s parents, Nyles and Ruth Ellefson, now of Hudson, helped to get the race started in Barron the same year of his passing.

Colleagues remember him as “a dedicated promoter of athletics,” as well as someone who made “frequent contributions - occasionally controversial - at (international mountain running leadership) meetings (and) livened up some often tedious afternoons.”

Koser said Ellefson “was hilarious, (with) a great sense of humor. He was a lot of fun to be with, he had a smile and a joke for all, and, during our junior and senior years, he was the leader of the pack to organize and do things.”

Ellefson’s personality must have rubbed off on succeeding generations, too. In 2009, a Vail newspaper interviewed Ellefson’s son, Sylvan, who, at the time, was an All-American Nordic skier then training for the Winter Olympics in Russia.

The younger Ellefson told the paler he “felt that his father, Lyndon, a pioneering mountain trail runner who died in 1998, when Sylvan was 11, would not have wanted him to give up.

“‘My dad is pretty much the reason I still compete in sport at this level, because I know it’s something he loved to do and would have wanted me to continue to do,’” said Sylvan Ellefson, then age 26. “It’s also my mom that’s given me the support to keep going, but I guess I want to finish the business he couldn’t.’”

Lyndon Ellefson’s family also includes his wife, Tashina, still a resident of Vail, and another son, Kjell.