John Bursell scaled Mount Roberts so fast, he beat the official timekeepers to the finish of Saturday's tram run.
Bursell completed the 3-mile, 2,000-foot ascent from the lower tram station to Father Brown's cross in 32 minutes, 12 seconds - a Mount Roberts Tram Run record, clocked by an Empire reporter at the finish line. Race officials arrived in time to record the finishes of second-place George Johnson (34:12) and third-place Eran Hood (34:40).
Julie Patnode of Olympia, Wash., was the top women's finisher - eighth place overall - in 40:56. Forty-two runners completed the ascent.
Saturday's race was Bursell's fifth Mount Roberts win in the last six years - and one of his first races this season as he recovers from an Achilles tendon injury.
"I just felt like I'm ready to race," he said. "I was just trying to maintain my position (during the race), keeping far enough ahead of the guys so they wouldn't see me."
Bursell and Dave Pusich have traded records since the race was extended from the upper tram station to the cross in 2002. Pusich, who held the previous mark of 32:30 set last year, was on vacation this year - though Bursell said he kept thinking his rival might pop into the race at any time.
After the Mount Roberts Tramway was knocked out of service on Friday, race organizers were prepared to go ahead with the run if it remained closed, although runners would have had to walk back down the mountain instead of getting a free ride down.
But the tram was back in working order Saturday to shuttle exhausted participants down the mountain as a heavy downpour replaced the fog that shrouded the finish line all morning.
The race started at the lower tram station, followed Franklin and Sixth streets to the Mount Roberts Trailhead. Then runners ascended the steep trail - a little slippery, but in relatively good shape, they reported - past the upper tram station and to the cross.
It was all new ground for Patnode, the women's winner, who just arrived in town for a week of housesitting for friends Michael and Mary Opp. She found out about the race Saturday morning, as she dropped her friends off at the airport.
"I was reading through a brochure, and it said there was a trail run," she said. "So I called the number at quarter to seven" and got details on how to enter.
Cassie Anderson, 11, was the youngest runner in the race. Her father, Lloyd, also ran on Saturday.
Cassie has been competing in a lot of runs this season, including the May Day Mud Run, the Ben Blackgoat Memorial Perseverance Trail Run and the Governor's Cup 5-kilometer run. But Saturday's climb was a whole new experience.
"It was hard, but really fun," she said. "I have blisters all over my feet."
Complete race results can be found on the Scoreboard on Page B2.
There has been a change in the upcoming race schedule. The Eaglecrest Road Race and 1-Mile Run, originally scheduled for Aug. 14, will now take place this Saturday, July 31. The Treadwell Twosome Traverse, which was to have been run this weekend, has been moved to the Aug. 14 slot. The Frank Maier Marathon and Half-Marathon is still set for Aug. 7.
MOUNT ROBERTS TRAM RUN
Results of Mount Roberts Tram Run, held Saturday on a 3-mile course from the Mount Roberts Tramways lower tram station on South Franklin Street to Father Browns cross, located above the upper tram station.
Finishers 1. John Bursell, male, age 40, 32 minutes, 12 seconds; 2. George Johnson, M, 25, 34:12; 3. Eran Hood, M, 36, 34:40; 4. Rick Thibodeau, M, 46, 37:52; 5. Ray Imel, M, 44, 38:35; 6. Jon Pollard, M, 50, 38:47; 7. Tim Connors, M, 37, 40:02; 8. Julie Patnode, female, 36, 40:56; 9. Mark Stapley, M, 30, 41:31; 10. Raymond Derek, M, 46, 41:42; 11. James Gallanos, M, 40, 42:00; 12. Amanda Thompson, F, 26, 42:11; 13. Steve Parker, M, 54, 42:23; 14. tie, Susie Burger, F, 30, 44:02; 14. tie, Paul DeSloover, M, 56, 44:02; 16. Steve Martin, M, 26, 44:30; 17. John Kern, M, 50, 45:41; 18. Danny Tomaro, M, 48, 45:50; 19. Kimberly Kochanek, F, 25, 45:53; 20. Kate McKenna, F, 26, 46:00.
21. James Beedle, M, 51, 46:08; 22. Nathan Adams, M, 24, 47:20; 23. Elizabeth Parker, F, 15, 47:27; 24. Colleen Norman, F, 28, 47:37; 25. Sarah Clark, F, 26, 48:02; 26. Kim Titus, M, 49, 48:06; 27. Bob Koenitzer, M, 48:32; 28. Deb Rudis, F, 51, 49:02; 29. Robert Bunton, M, 30, 49:58; 30. Erik Schlecter, M, 13, 50:04; 31. Michael Schlechter, M, 42, 50:39; 32. Roger Bunton, M, 32, 50:58; 33. Elizabeth Adams, F, 24, 51:06; 34. Arabella Arbuthnott, F, 24, 51:13; 35. Liz Fey, F, 26, 51:22; 36. T.J. Slagle, M, 60, 52:36; 37. Kate Slotnick, F, 46, 55:28; 38. Cassie Anderson, F, 11, 55:29; 39. tie, Leigh Miller, F, 14, 59:44; 39. tie, Glenn Miller, M, 48, 59:44; 41. Lloyd Anderson, M, 49, 1:10:52; 42. I-Chun Che, F, 27, 1:16:38.
Andrew Krueger can be reached at email@example.com.