Juneau runners will have a chance to run over the meadows and through the woods this weekend with the Spaulding Meadows (With a View of Windfall Lake) Cross-Country Trail Challenge.
The race starts at 9 a.m. Saturday in front of the Mourant Building at the University of Alaska Southeast's Auke Lake Campus. From there it winds through about 13 to 15 miles of the Spaulding Meadows Trail and the Montana Creek Trail, finishing at the archery range on Montana Creek Road.
Along the way, the course will gain 1,700 feet and lose 800 feet in elevation, and runners will run on a variety of surfaces from muskeg swamp to creek beds, boardwalk to corduroy (logs laid across a trail). Oh, yeah, don't forget bears frequent these trails (runners can bring noisemakers, but no firearms to scare the bears away).
``It should be a good run,'' said Steve Foley, who is organizing the race with Paul Dick. ``We want people to run together. We plan to have a safety station about halfway in, where the Spaulding Meadows Trail meets the Montana Creek Trail. I don't think finding partners will be a problem.''
This year's course is different than the one used in recent versions of the race, but Foley said it's a course that has been used for the race about three or four years ago. He said normal race director Ben Haight, who normally lays out the course, is out of town, so he and Dick chose this one.
``We did it just to mix it up, to keep things a little different,'' Foley said. ``It's probably about 13 1/2 to 14 miles, but there is no straight line through Spaulding Meadows so someone could run 20 if they get lost.''
Foley said local trail runners like Paul Pusich and his brother Dave Pusich will be tough to beat on this course, and he said you can never count out 61-year-old Glenn Frick, who beat the Pusich brothers in their own Mount Juneau Ridge Run two weeks ago. Out-of-town runner Tom Casey is another contender, Foley said.
``We'd have to move it out of Juneau, like to Ketchikan, to keep some of the trail runners like Glenn from really knowing the course,'' Foley said, referring to Frick's tremendous knowledge of Juneau's trail system. ``But I think he even knows most of the trails down there.''
Last year's women's division was dominated by visiting runners as the top three finishers were all taking part in the Bread Loaf School of English run by Middlebury College at UAS. Foley said he's not sure if there will be another tough visiting contingent to watch for.
This year's race is being run using a mandatory buddy system, which means the slowest runner in each pairing determines the time for the buddy team. Foley said they will try to help match up buddies before the race starts for those who don't have a partner.
Runners are encouraged to dress for the weather, and they should bring their own water and snack supplies for the run. Preregistration closes at 4:30 p.m. at the Foggy Mountain Shop or both Juneau Racquet Club locations, with the fee being $5. Day-of-race registration opens at 8:30 a.m. and costs $8.
Local mountain bikers can also ride through the woods with the Cope Park Mountain Bike Race starting at 8 a.m. on Saturday. Race organizer Tony Jacobsen said the race will probably be four or eight laps, depending on the riders' skill levels, and each lap is about 1 1/2 miles long.
``There's one section where it's real technical, with some singletrack, and there's one climb that will be pretty tough for some riders because it's in soft dirt,'' Jacobsen said. ``There's varied terrain, and the course does go around the baseball diamond and the tennis courts before it goes into the woods.''
For more information on the races, check out the Sports In Juneau listings on the Scoreboard on Page 10.