Ben Blackgoat was a Juneau-Douglas High School runner with Olympic dreams when he died in a Nov. 27, 1996, training accident on Perseverance Trail.
On Saturday, 85 runners kept Blackgoat's memory alive with the fifth annual Ben Blackgoat Memorial Perseverance Trail Ribbon Run. The runners had their choices of two-, four- and seven-mile courses along one of Blackgoat's favorite training runs.
"This is all part of the healing," said Mark Griffith, one of Blackgoat's former training partners who ran the seven-mile race. "It's a race, but I think about him every time I see the cross where he slipped."
"We think about him more than in just this race," said Breea DeSloover, another former training partner. "A lot of people come back to town just to run this race, and it's the only time we really get to see them. We were lucky to have Ben for just the short period we did."
The chase is on: Tom Casey (80) chases Brandon Stone toward the finish line of the two-mile race in the Ben Blackgoat Memorial Perseverance Trail Ribbon Run on Saturday. Stone held off Caseys challenge to win by one second. There were also four- and seven-mile courses in the race.
BRIAN WALLACE / THE JUNEAU EMPIRE
Blackgoat and his mother Christine had just moved to Juneau from Palmer before school started for Blackgoat's junior year. Blackgoat, who helped Colony High School win a state championship as a sophomore, was undefeated in Southeast in cross-country running his junior season, winning the Region V championship and finishing 12th at the state meet. He was training toward his goal of winning the state title as a senior when he slipped on a patch of ice and fell 300 feet to his death the day before Thanksgiving.
"Ben had a vision. He wanted to go to the Olympics," said Christine Blackgoat, who returned to Juneau for the race even though she now lives in Soldotna. "He passed doing something he loved. If he left a legacy, that was it. He was young, but he died doing something he loved doing."
Christine Blackgoat wasn't the only member of Ben's family who returned to Juneau for the race. His father, Danny K. Blackgoat, now lives in Flagstaff, Ariz., but he helped check runners at the seven-mile checkpoint. Ben's sister older Amanda didn't live in Juneau when he died, but now calls Juneau home.
"The community has been extraordinarily supportive throughout all of this," Christine Blackgoat said.
Even though Blackgoat was in Juneau for a brief time, he made an impact on the local running community. Todd Denton, another of Blackgoat's training partners, said the only race he runs any more are the Blackgoat Memorial.
Remembering Ben: Christine Blackgoat, Bens mother, holds her 4-month-old granddaughter, Morgan Danner, while watching the start of the Ben Blackgoat Memorial Perseverance Trail Ribbon Run.
BRIAN WALLACE / THE JUNEAU EMPIRE
"We're trying to keep his memory going," Denton said. "He touched everybody. He made an impact."
Dewey Peacock, another of Blackgoat's former training partners, said he, Denton, DeSloover, Maria Eley and Griffith used to run with Blackgoat all the time. Peacock said if Blackgoat were still alive he would be one of Juneau's strongest runners.
"He'd be smoking us," Peacock said. "He had a hard work ethic. He worked harder than any of us."
Jesse Stringer edged Peacock to win the seven-mile race, posting a time of 39 minutes, 37 seconds to Peacock's 39:38. Stringer, who will be a senior at Juneau this fall, said he met Blackgoat once when he came to one of Stringer's middle-school races, but he was too young to really know Blackgoat.
During the race, Stringer said he and Peacock traded leads seven or eight times before Stringer caught Peacock for good with about 400 yards left. Peacock said Stringer had faster legs on the downhills, which is where he was caught. Don Eagle took third place in 40:17.
Sarah Rebick, who is visiting Juneau from Massachusetts, won the women's division and took seventh overall in 45:34, followed by Eley and DeSloover, both in 49:26. Rebick, who is attending the Bread Loaf School of English, didn't know Blackgoat but even she was thinking about him during the run.
"I ran it earlier this week, and it felt harder today," Rebick said. "I was thinking about how everyone knows the stories, and also that I could trip if I wasn't careful. I felt OK. It was fun."
Training partner: Maria Eley runs to second place among women in the seven-mile race of the Ben Blackgoat Memorial Perseverance Trail Ribbon Run.
BRIAN WALLACE / THE JUNEAU EMPIRE
In the four-mile race, 17-year-old Blake Rider claimed the title with a time of 28:57, followed by Kevin Deutsche of Fairbanks in 29:25. Brandy Weston was the top woman and third place overall in 30:35, followed by Karen Nanseth in 30:49.
"I just started running again," said Rider, who hopes to run for the JDHS Crimson Bears as a senior this fall. "I wasn't doing anything, so I thought I'd start doing something productive. All the real good runners ran seven miles."
Deutsche, who said he's dropped from 225 to 170 pounds over the last 10 months, said he could close ground on Rider on the uphills, but Rider was stronger on the downhills.
Weston said she's been training to run for Western State College in Colorado this fall, but she wasn't expecting to win her division. Weston said she, women's two-mile winner Molly Krehlik and Heidi Denton ran 12 miles on Friday, so she "just ran it for fun."
Brandon Stone, who used to live in Juneau but now lives in Ohio, won the two-mile race in 12:46, edging out Tom Casey by one second. James Beedle took third overall in 15:36. Krehlik was the top female in 16:01, good for fifth overall, while Phoebe Rohrbacher was the second female in 17:06 and Donna Hahnlen was third woman in 17:54.
Stone, who's in Juneau visiting his father who still lives here, just graduated from a high school in Medina, Ohio, and he said he anchored the Ohio Division II state champion 4x800-meter relay team. He led by a lot early in the race, but barely held off Casey at the finish.
Charles Bingham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Results from Saturday's Fifth Annual Ben Blackgoat Perseverance Trail Ribbon Run, an event with courses of two, four and seven miles. Runners are listed by overall finish, with their names, ages, gender and times.
Finishers -- 1. Brandon Stone, age 18, Male, 12 minutes, 46 seconds; 2. Tom Casey, 34, M, 12:47; 3. James Beedle, 48, M, 15:36; 4. Trevan Walker, 30, M, 15:56; 5. Molly Krehlik, 16, F, 16:01; 6. Ky Clark, 10, M, 16:26; 7. Andy Lawson, 8, M, 16:36; 8. Andre Bunton, 8, M, 16:37; 9. Phoebe Rohrbacher, 15, F, 17:06; 10. Zack Bursel, 8, M, 17:16; 11. Donna Hahnlen, 39, F, 17:54; 12. Cameron Clark, 8, M, 18:18; 13. Eva Small, 39, F, 19:06; 14. Nancy Nash, 51, F, 21:15; 15. Kiera Clark, 7, F, 21:29; 16. Isabel Hesson, 48, F, 25:30; 17. Randy Moore, 53, M, 25:35.
Finishers -- 1. Blake Rider, age 17, Male, 28:57; 2. Kevin Deutsche, 31, M, 29:25; 3. Brandy Weston, 18, F, 30:35; 4. Karen Nanseth, 37, F, 30:49; 5. Scott Moran, 28, M, 32:30; 6. Don Beard, 52, M, 33:34; 7. Doug Weaver, 50, M, 33:35; 8. Paul DeSloover, 53, M, 34:31; 9. Celeste Becia, 40, F, 34:41; 10. Guy Thibodeau, 50, M, 34:42; 11. Ron Taug, 43, M, 35:08; 12. Ingrid Stevens, 22, F, 35:31; 13. Megan Thomas, 25, F, 36:08; 14. Sandra Woods, 43, F, 37:41; 15. Bruce Hahnlen, 42, M, 38:05; 16. Cameron Young, 32, F, 39:15; 17. Michael Fleishhauer, 54, M, 40:30; 18. Matthew Wood, 22, M, 41:50; 19. Holly Dreler, 30, F, 42:53; 20. Jeff Laquallia, 50, M, 51:36.
Finishers -- 1. Jesse Stringer, 18, M, 39:37; 2. Dewey Peacock, 21, M, 39:38; 3. Don Eagle, 31, M, 40:17; 4. Steve Schmitz, 40, M, 41:19; 5. Tracy Rivers, 34, M, 42:07; 6. John Gozelski, 36, M, 43:15; 7. Sarah Rebick, 26, F, 45:34; 8. John Walsh, 45, M, 46:43; 9. Todd Denton, 21, M, 47:06; 10. Jim Ustasiewski, 37, M, 48:54; 11. Edward Plumb, 30, M, 49:13; 12. Maria Eley, 19, F, 49:26; 13. Breea DeSloover, 19, F, 49:26; 14. Colleen Gordon, 41, F, 50:39; 15. Glenn Frick, 62, M, 50:40; 16. John Gallagher, 30, M, 50:44; 17. Robert Bunton, 27, M, 50:46; 18. Steff Thomas, 50, M, 51:10; 19. Zane Clark, 40, M, 51:38; 20. Jean Mason, 37, F, 51:50; 21. Kim Rivera, 41, F, 52:03; 22. Mark Griffith, 21, M, 53:32; 23. Janeann Twelker, 48, F, 53:40; 24. Clayton Hawkes, 48, M, 53:59; 25. Carol Johnson, 35, F, 54:12; 26. Clint Farr, 28, M, 54:15; 27. Gina Jensen, 36, F, 54:19; 28. Dan McCrummen, 45, M, 54:22; 29. Tim Hahnlen, 44, M, 54:22; 30. Laura Lee Nelson, 41, F, 54:49; 31. Terry Kelly, 42, M, 56:15; 32. Dave Eley, 47, M, 56:25; 33. Shelly Hamilton, 30, F, 56:33; 34. John Kern, 47, M, 58:24; 35. Jamie Bursell, 38, F, 58:25; 36. Jon Gissberg, 58, M, 58:38; 37. Clint Sullivan, 20, M, 58:39; 38. Reese Jensen, 34, M, 59:10; 39. Steve Porter, 57, M, 59:36; 40. Steve McPhetres, 59, M, 1:00:46; 41. Terry Anderson, 46, M, 1:01:07; 42. John Blank, 35, M, 1:01:30; 43. Scott Marnon, 34, M, 1:01:32; 44. Tim Banaszak, 37, M, 1:03:13; 45. Susan Crandal, 34, F, 1:03:47; 46. Steve White, 53, M, 1:04:41; 47. Kim Metcalfe, 51, F, 1:08:20; 48. Patrice Parker, 48, F, 1:08:20.