It is time for Juneau athletes to put up or, well, to try again harder.
The Fourth Annual Aukeman Triathlon will start at 8 a.m. Saturday at Auke Lake.
The750-meter swim has been interesting in previous competitions for a variety of reasons:
The mass charge into the water, the challenge of swimming next to and in the midst of numerous competitors, the temperature of the water, and the run from the water towards the biking portion.
The Aukeman is sanctioned by USA Triathlon, which is a national group that provides rankings, insurance and organizational help.
Race directors Tracy Rivera and John Bursell require that competitors wear wetsuits for the swim portion and suggest that competitors have trained or swam in Auke Lake before.
As competitors proceed to the next stage they are exhausted and cold and the removal of the wetsuits is a feat in itself.
“I have a new style of wetsuit,” multiple Aukeman competitor Kristen Jones said.
Jones is looking to win her third straight “Aukewoman” title. The recent graduate of Northern Arizona University competed for the swim team there.
Jones set the women’s course record (swim, bike, run) in 2010 with a time of one hour 13 minutes and 42 seconds, and was sixth overall among all competitors. Last year she posted a 1:16:44 to top the women and placed seventh overall. Jones won the swim portion to establish the lead enough to withstand dropping time in the bike and run sections.
Swimmers run from Auke Lake up to the University of Alaska Southeast Parking lot where a change of attire awaits and support crews have various essentials prepared. Donning bike shoes they then speed off on a 12-mile jaunt to the Mendenhall Glacier and back, traveling along Back Loop Road and Glacier Spur Road.
According to Bursell, a three-time Hawaii Ironman participant, “Training and quick transitions are the key. Strong bike skills are important as that is the longest leg.”
John’s son Zack, is the men’s record holder for the Aukeman.
Zack Bursell is back to reclaim his title, and course record, set in the 2010 event with a 1:05:39.
Last year Kevin Sellers won with a 1:07:15 as Bursell was a race volunteer along with his father.
Zack Bursell is a college runner and will use that strength to make up time given in the swim and bike.
The bike portion ends back at the UAA lot and competitors then become runners along the newly completed Auke Lake Trail. The 5K run goes along the Glacier Highway between the university and the Auke Lake trailhead.
Sellers will use his bike skills to make up for a weaker swim and strong run.
Scott Jones, who finished fourth for men last year with a 1:12:30, but had the 10th fastest bike time, is coming off a blistering hot cycling time trial in the Juneau Freewheelers circuit.
Jones popped out of the water last year in 11 minutes and five seconds, trailing race leader K. Jones by just over a minute.
If S. Jones can nail the cycle portion, on top of his already powerful swim, he will survive with a weaker run finish.
Sitka’s Richard Forst is back. Forst finished second overall last year with a 1:11:47.
Another men’s favorite is Riley Moser. The up and coming high school swimmer and runner may surprise the top dogs this year. Nick Bursell will be joining the family competition, fresh out of high school and a few local Southeast Road Runner events; and mother Jaime Bursell is looking to move up from last year’s second-place women’s time of 1:19:26.
Last year’s fourth place women’s finisher, Jennifer Watson looks to better her time of 1:21:14.
The strong swimming Busch family: Kati, Loren, Jimmy and dad Greg are all in the mix. The race is expected to have a full participant field.
To survive the three stages competitors will have to consume enough fuel between changeovers, be able to facilitate smooth transitions, recognize fatigue and be able to push through pain.
In short, a typical race day in Juneau.