The Windfall Lake Trail Challenge Run includes some of the worst travails of hiking and running in Southeast.
But the 43 runners who completed Saturday's race wouldn't have it any other way.
Dave Pusich scrambled over trails - muddy, rocky and all surfaces in between - and toughed it out through devil's club - lots of devil's club - to win the 14-mile trail run, a traverse of the Montana Creek and Windfall Lake trails.
Pusich, 38, covered the course in 1 hour, 37 minutes, 3 seconds - less than half a minute off his time in 2002, when he tied John Bursell for first in 1:36:36.
Last year, when the race was run in reverse, Pusich finished second (1:39:38) to Chris Wilkens (1:38:26).
"I just run my own race," Pusich said. "(I set) a comfortable pace and maintain it."
Former Juneau-Douglas High School runner Gabe Hayden and current JDHS runner Tristan Knutson-Lombardo tied for second in 1:42:55, followed by Kyle Hebert, 37, in 1:44:43. Brothers and JDHS runners Tyler and Wesley Dinnan tied for fifth place in 1:46:04.
Lachelle Crotteau, 30, was the first woman to finish the race, tied for 10th place overall in 1:52:18. Erica Madison, 22, was the second woman across the finish line and 13th overall in 1:54:31.
Complete results can be found on the Scoreboard on Page B2.
The race started at the West Glacier Trailhead, and Pusich led most of the way. He was out in front as the runners wound along Montana Creek on the wide trail just beyond the end of Montana Creek Road.
From there, the race crossed the low pass from Montana Creek to Windfall Creek, skirted Windfall Lake and finished down Windfall Lake Trail, with devil's club lining the path. Trail surfaces ranged from gravel to cobbles to boardwalks and corduroy - logs placed side-by-side.
"The boardwalk and corduroy were pretty slippery this year, and the devil's club was pretty fierce," Pusich said.
Pusich said his main concern about competition came from longtime runner Glenn Frick, who is known for his knowledge of shortcuts over the traverse. Frick, 65, finished seventh.
Madison, who is from Anchorage but is working in Gustavus this summer, was running in her first Juneau race. She fell three times on slippery logs, but said she loved the forested course.
The next scheduled footrace in Juneau is the Ben Blackgoat Memorial Perseverance Trail Run on Saturday, June 26.
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