Juneau's Ben Gage wins the half marathon

Posted: Sunday, August 03, 2008

Ben Gage of Juneau won the 17th annual Douglas Island Half Marathon on Saturday with a time of 1 hour, 24 minutes, 15 seconds to beat out 120 runners of all shapes, sizes and motivations.

Gage, 36, a geologist for Greens Creek Mine, plans to run Minnesota's Twin City Marathon in October. He also ran the Boston Marathon last April.

Katie Krehlik was the female half marathon winner with a time of 1:29. She finished third overall and posted a better time than the majority of the men in the race. Krehlik is a recent Juneau-Douglas High School graduate who had been a standout cross-country and track athlete. She will run in both track and cross country at Northern Arizona University this fall. Saturday's race was her first half marathon.

"I wasn't planning on running so fast, but then it was exciting, so I ran it faster than usual," Krehlik said.

Judy Maier, the wife of the late Frank Maier, was at the finish line cheering on the runners. Also in attendance was Maier's daughter, Dr. Anya Maier, who is a physician in Juneau.

Judy described her late husband, who passed away in 1990. He was born and raised in Juneau, graduating from high school here in 1950. He went on to become an architect and helped install the Kimball organ in the State Office Building.

Judy recalled that her husband loved to run and he insisted that organizers keep the marathon going even though it only attracted a handful of runners some years. At that time it was called the Juneau Marathon.

Maier was 50 years old when he decided to run in the marathon that, today, is named after him. His wife recalled that Frank had not trained at all for the race. Just 30 days before the event, he decided to start training by running one mile the first day, two miles the second day, three miles the third day, and so on.

Judy said that when he got to day 13, he didn't come back. She decided to go look for him and found him walking on the road. She asked him why he didn't hitchhike, and he responded that he had too much pride.

After running his first marathon, Maier ran the race every year for the next eight years.

Anya recalled that one year he father ran the marathon and then hiked a steep mountain on Admiralty Island. He wanted to spend the night on the mountain to be ready for the first day of deer hunting season.

Maier also was known for his volunteer work at the Eagle River United Methodist camp in Juneau. The camp has been a gathering place, over the years, for thousands of Juneau school children who attend as part of an annual year-end camping trip.

• Erik Stimpfle is a writer living in Juneau. He can be contacted at stimpfle@gci.net.

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