A fine day for a marathon

Posted: Sunday, August 01, 2010

According to a dedication by the Southeast Road Runner Club, "the only race Frank Maier cared a damn about" was run Saturday morning by more than 140 entrants that cared a damn about it too. The race is sanctioned by the governing body of the United States Track And Field and is in honor of Maier who passed in 1990 in a fishing accident.

Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire
Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire

"Frank always said Juneau should have a marathon," his widow Judith Maier said. "Frank was committed to it. Even if he was going to be the only runner, there was going to be a marathon."

Frank Maier, a 1950 JDHS grad, ran college track at the University of Oregon. He met Judith when supervising her at a Methodist Bible Camp in Juneau. The original marathon was a Juneau Parks & Recreation event from 1971-88 which started at the Mendenhall Glacier. Maier was always adamant about participating in them.

"One year Frank ate a lemon drop every mile in the marathon," Judith Maier said. "Our daughter Mihkel rode her bike next to him with the candies."

The family also included daughters Frith and Anya and son Joe. Maier used to pick up change he found along the runs, which prompted Judith to lay out quarters during one event. The Maiers also have a tradition of deer hunting when the season opens, so Frank took an hour nap on a mountainside shortly after one race and then the family commenced to hunt.

Reasons for marathon running were many on Saturday.

New Zealand's Alex Wishart, employed at Green's Creek Mining, has been in Juneau three years since marrying a local veterinarian.

"The main reason you make a life-changing decision is you meet a woman and you fall in love and go from there," Wishart said.

A group of Texans ran because they were trying to run a marathon in 50 states.

Don Bremner ran with a photo of his daughter Alison on a button at the top of his singlet.

"She is in Eugene (Ore.) and couldn't make it," said Bremner, who was running in her fourth marathon. "I'm pretty excited."

Laura Rudy, from Bellingham, Wash., skipped work at a local tour bus company to run the half-marathon.

"I needed a day off from work," Laura Rudy said. "And I did it last summer too. I love this race, but I had too many frozen yogurt treats to beat my time."

Marian Clough wanted to spend time with here daughter Leigh Miller while Miller said, "I wanted to see if I could keep up with my mom."

Judith Maier couldn't attend this year's race as the family was already prepared to have opening day of deer season on Admiralty Island.

"My kids said once I would never win because my only goal was to finish," Maier said. "My goal was always to finish next to last. Frank dared me to race one year and I said let me off here ... it was on the bridge and I ran in the fourth of July, and I did all right."

Bryce Iverson won the Men's full 26-mile race in 2 hours, 55 minutes and 51 seconds, well off the course record of 2:31:30 set by Shawn Miller in 2003. Tracey Rivera was second in 3:13:36 and Paul Norwood third with 3:15:53.

Outsiders swept the women's full with Mary Hanna from Maple Valley, Wash. crossing first in 3:25:04, also off the record time of 3:12:23 set by Garrette McIntire in 2009. Tara Murray of Bellefonte, Penn. was second in 3:34:26 and Laura MacLean of Willow Spring, N.C. third with 3:36:43.

Tristan Knutson-Lombardo won the Douglas Island Half-Marathon in 1:17:38, Evan Thibodeau was second in 1:23:28, and Rob Swanson of Omaha, Neb. took third in 1:24:00. The course record of 1:09:33 set in 2005 belongs to Miller.

Kathleen Maynard of Jackson, N.H. took the women's half in 1:32:26, Sitka's Megan Lehmann was second in 1:32:38, and Jessie Gulsvig was third in 1:36:40. Merry Ellefson still owns the course record of 1:25:19 from 2001.

• Contact Klas Stolpe at klas.stolpe@juneauempire.com.

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