KIERAN Ryan was a thirty three hour flight from home when he claimed his first international race in Juneau, Alaska.
He was awe struck flying into Juneau as the town itself is at sea level and is surrounded by mountains in each direction rising to more than 6000 feet above sea level.
Juneau is only accessible via air or by ferry as the roads that lead out of town simply stop.
Ryan found himself in Juneau after applying to spend a week with Geoff Rose, one of the best ultra marathon runners in the world, at his Ultra Mountain Running Camp.
The equivalent of this would be playing one on one with Lebron James if you were into basketball.
"I was fortunate enough to receive a part scholarship which made making the decision to travel to Juneau that bit easier," Ryan said.
Ryan received an email from Geoff on the Friday night informing him that there was a local race happening on Saturday.
The Nifty 50 had races of various distances as the name suggests, a 50 kilometre, 25 kilometre and a 10 kilometre all of which would be run on the trails around Juneau.
Race registration had officially closed when Ryan tried to enter, but he was fortunate to find the race director's email address.
"I had my reply email and a spot in the 10 kilometre event within the hour," Ryan said.
The course was an out and back style, running five kilometres up the Perseverance Trail before turning around and heading back.
Ryan compared the race with running to the top of the Pinnacle from the township of Halls Gap in the Grampians, without the stairs.
"I had planned to take the first part of the race easy, try and sit in behind the front runners," Ryan said.
"Then at the turn around point, I had planned to make my move on the field."
Things didn't go quite to plan with Ryan finding himself out in front setting the pace with a slight lead on the main group.
"As I ran I couldn't take my eyes off the snow capped mountains that I was running towards," Ryan said
"It was breathtaking."
With a minute lead on the chasing group, Ryan stuck to his plan and accelerated from the turn around point.
Ryan crossed the line four minutes clear of the nearest runner to take victory in his first international race.
With the difficult nature of the race, course officials and other competitors were shocked that Ryan completed the 10 kilometres in under 40 minutes.
Ryan's next stop is Boulder Colorado the "it" place for endurance athletes, where he will attempt to reach as many 14,000 feet mountain tops as possible within the six days.