Before rain and low clouds socked in Juneau on Saturday, 29 runners ascended Mount Roberts the old-fashioned way for the annual Mount Roberts Tram Race.
Dave Pusich thwarted John Bursell's drive for a fifth straight victory in the three-mile race, which features a climb in excess of 1,800 feet from sea level to the wooden cross above the upper tram station. Pusich finished the course in 32 minutes, 30 seconds - 12 seconds ahead of Bursell. The duo finished more than two minutes ahead of third-place runner Jason Pinger (34:54).
Pusich's time sets a new mark for the course, which was lengthened by a half-mile last year to finish at the cross instead of the upper tram station. The previous record was Bursell's winning time last year - 32:52.
Breea Mearig was the top women's finisher, covering the course in 41:24. Janeann Twelker took second place among women with 42:16.
As a handful of tourists and race officials hopped the first tram of the day at 9 a.m., the racers started at the lower tram station, ran up Franklin and Sixth streets and then climbed the steep Mount Roberts Trail.
While the trail almost always has a few muddy spots, and racers have to contend with protruding roots and the occasional fallen tree, conditions were very good this year - especially compared to the cold, rainy weather that prevailed during last year's run.
A trio of racers - Leonard Kashatok of Kipnuk, Andrew Oyagak of Nuiqsut and Karen Laquaglia of Juneau - brought up the back of the pack. Kipnuk is located southwest of Bethel near the Bering Sea coast. Nuiqsut is located on the Colville River between Prudhoe Bay and Barrow.
Laquaglia returned to the Mount Roberts race after a year away, while Kashatok and Oyagak were running in their first-ever Juneau race.
"It's a steep trail, the worst trail I've been on in Juneau," Oyagak said as he took in the scenic vista from the finish line. "But the payoff is nice."
"It's a really nice view," Kashatok said. "Where I'm from it's all flat - there are no mountains."
1. Dave Pusich, 32 minutes, 30 seconds; 2. John Bursell, 32:42; 3. Jason Pinger, 34:54; 4. Nick Foster, 36:40; 5. Jonathan Pollard, 36:54; 6. Cory Crossett, 37:26; 7. John Burick, 38:08; 8. Nathan Pinger, 38:22; 9. Robert Marshall, 39:31; 10. John Walsh, 41:03; 11. Breea Mearig (first female finisher), 41:24; 12. Paul DeSloover, 41:55; 13. Janeann Twelker (second female finisher), 42:16; 14. Danny Tomaro, 42:30; 15. Emily Adoma (third female finisher), 43:09; 16. James Beedle, 43:58; 17. Carlos Cadiente, 45:24; 18. Stephen Healey, 45:36; 19. Ryan Redington, 45:44; 20. Ron Lussier, 47:11; 21. Michael Schlechter, 47:17; 22. Doug Weaver, 47:54; 23. Jamie Bursell (fourth female finisher), 48:47; 24. Fred Trentaz, 49:20; 25. Dan Valins, 52:32; 26. Jim Grammel, 55:38; 27. Leonard Kashatok, 1:13:34; 28. Andrew Oyagak, 1:17:24; 29. Karen Laquaglia, 1:17:34.
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