The 10th annual Sea Coast Relay features some of the most competitive running talent in Juneau, and that's why race director Sue Scott wanted to give the rest of the pavement-pounders a fighting chance.
This year, the popular race along scenic Veteran's Memorial Highway has three staggered starts -- at 9, 9:30 and 10 a.m. -- to give recreational runners a chance to feel like they're in the race.
``This gives the real slow runners a chance to stay with everyone,'' Scott said. ``It builds up their egos and their spirits.''
Another change for this year's race is its direction. Instead of the traditional route that ends at Eagle Beach, this year's race begins at Eagle Beach and ends at Skater's Cabin.
``Running in the reverse will open up the chance to set race records for all the legs,'' Scott said. ``There are some really hot teams registered so the competition is on. If the weather cooperates this year should be best ever.''
Five-person relay teams run legs ranging from 3.41 to 5.81 miles over a 21.59-mile course. Exchange spots are at the Shrine of St. Therese, Lena Beach picnic area, Auke Bay recreation area and the University of Alaska Southeast campus.
As of Wednesday 25 teams had signed up, Scott said, up from 18 teams last year. As many as 40 teams have competed in the past, she added.
Scott said three, two-person teams will run the course, as well as three all-female teams.
Another race on Saturday is the Dredge Lake Mountain Bike Race beginning at 10 a.m. at the end of Dredge Lake Road.
Mountain bikers can choose to navigate a two- or a seven-lap course through the winding, mazelike trail system near Dredge Lake.
The course runs the same route as last year, said director Dennis Travis, including the long stretch of clear trail before the finish line that allows room for a competitive sprint.
``It makes for some pretty exciting finishes,'' Travis said.
The loose-gravel trail is relatively flat and interspersed with rounded, banking corners and whoop-de-dos, Travis said. One technical section features roots and rocks to navigate.