Rain may have kept the big crowds away from Saturday's 24th annual JRC-Governor's Cup 5-kilometer fun run, but it didn't stop Gov. Tony Knowles from making a rare appearance in the race.
Knowles and his family -- wife Susan, son Luke, and daughters Devon and Sara -- ran in the race for the first time, even though this is the final year of Knowles' second four-year term. According to race organizers, this is just the third time anyone can remember a sitting governor running in the event and the first since former-Gov. Wally Hickel a decade ago.
"I've always been out of town when the race took place," said Knowles, an avid runner who frequented Anchorage fun runs when he was mayor of that city in the 1980s. "Luke and I had a challenge on, a little wager. I think he got the better of me today."
Knowles finished 43rd among the men in the race, posting a time of 27 minutes, 25 seconds. His son, who just graduated from Juneau-Douglas High School, took eight among men in 19:26, good for ninth place overall.
"With about a half-mile to go, it was killing me," said Luke Knowles, who helped Juneau's boys soccer team win the state title this spring. "We ran this far all the time in soccer, but I haven't done much since."
Shawn Miller won the overall race for the second straight year, posting a time of 16:04 over the course that went from the Dimond Courthouse downtown to the American Red Cross building near Bartlett Hospital. Jesse Stringer took second place in 16:28, edging out David Pusich by one second.
Merry Ellefson ran an 18:00 to break the 1992 women's course record of 18:16 by Lisa Kirsch. Ellefson's time was good for sixth place overall. Karen Nanseth took second among women with a time of 20:34, followed by Shelly Saviers in 21:09.
Ellefson said the rain and wind didn't affect her too much during Saturday's race.
"That was a P.R. (personal record) by 10 seconds," said Ellefson, who won the women's portion of the Douglas Two-Miler on Wednesday. "If you're not going to run in the rain, you're not going to run in Juneau. I made fun of the geezers on Wednesday, but I wouldn't be running like I am today if they didn't let me tag along with them on their runs."
After Wednesday's race, Ellefson joked that when she "ran behind the big, fat geezers, they blocked the wind" for her. Ellefson, 39, is posting some of her fastest times this year.
"Merry smoked the course," Nanseth said. "She's always been fast."
In the men's race, youth was served as Miller is 21, Stringer is 18 and Pusich is 35. Pusich led through the first half of the course, but Miller and then Stringer caught him before the finish.
"It was another case of age vs. youth," Pusich said.
"It was a little wet," said Miller, whose time was three seconds faster than his winning time last year but well off the 1999 course record of 14:58 set by Jim Shine Jr. Miller, who runs collegiately at Western Washington University, said he set his personal record for the course in 1999, but still lost to Shine.
"I'm still trying to max out my miles, so I haven't done much speed work yet," Miller said. "It was no easier this year. Dave Pusich was here, and Jesse went fast. This is my second-fastest time. I'm happy with it as long as I can maintain the speed over twice the distance."
Even though he and Miller were two of the younger runners in the race, Stringer said the heavy summer schedule of local races was starting to take its toll. Stringer won last Saturday's seven-mile race in the Ben Blackgoat Memorial Perseverance Trail Ribbon Run, then took third behind Miller and John Bursell in Wednesday's Douglas Two-Miler.
"They really crammed the races in this week," said Stringer, who will be a senior at Juneau-Douglas High School this fall.
"I was tired," Miller said.
Charles Bingham can be reached at email@example.com.