For the 16th year, local athletes will join runners from across the United States in Douglas for Juneau's most anticipated running event.
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The Frank Maier Marathon and Douglas Island Half Marathon, presented by the Southeast Road Runners, will take place Saturday at Savikko Park. The 26.2-mile marathon kicks off at 7 a.m. while the 13.1-mile half marathon starts at 9 a.m. The races will start an hour earlier for slower runners who think they need the extra time.
Both courses start and end at Sandy Beach and meander out the North Douglas Highway, offering views of the ocean, forest, glaciers and wildlife.
Runners from Pennsylvania, South Dakota, North Carolina, Washington, New York, Florida and other states have already signed up to run. One of the runners, 49-year-old Alice Purcell of Bloomington, Minn., will be completing her tour of 50 marathons in 50 states at the Frank Maier Marathon.
Other runners show up year after year to enjoy Alaska's beauty. Lawrence Macon of San Antonio has bee coming back to run the marathon for so many years race officials think of him as an old friend.
While people come from throughout the country to compete, local runners hold some of the fastest times on record.
Juneau-Douglas High School cross country co-coach Guy Thibodeau and Jim Douglas hold the men's masters half-marathon and marathon records, respectively. They set those marks in 1993.
Merry Ellefson, Thibodeau's co-coach with the Crimson Bears, set the women's open half-marathon record while Lisa Kirsch currently holds the master's half marathon record.
Shawn Miller formerly held the men's marathon record of 2 hours, 31 minutes in 2003. He also set the open men's half marathon record of 1:09 in 2005.
In the wheelchair division, Seth McBride, Juneau resident and U.S. Paralympics Wheelchair Rugby Team member, owns the half marathon record while Don Brandon totes the marathon wheelchair record.
While both races are competitive, numerous athletes take the opportunity to train for the upcoming Klondike Trail of '98 International Road Relay on Sept. 7-8 from Skagway to Whitehorse, Yukon.
Also, athletes can qualify for the prestigious Boston Marathon with a solid time at the Frank Maier, which is on a course officially sanctioned by USA Track and Field.
Spectators can cheer on the runners along the North Douglas and Douglas highways.
Volunteers are needed at the race aid stations, which are located about every two miles. Also a barbecue and awards ceremony will take place after the races.
The race is dedicated to the memory of Frank Maier, a long-time Juneau runner. The race is run annual to celebrate his love of running.
Athletes can still register for the marathon or half-marathon online at active.com or with forms from www.southeastroadrunners.com. Those wanting more information can call race director Bob Marshall at 586-6200.
Deb Craig is a member of the Southeast Road Runners.