A common sight in Juneau's running races is Paul Pusich's deeply tanned and chiseled physique running all alone, with few challengers in his wake.
Generally regarded as top dog among local runners, Pusich bettered his own course record in the Frank Maier Marathon last year by over two minutes. This year, if he feels like running it, Pusich believes he can go faster.
``I'd like to break 2:40,'' Pusich said. Last year he ran 2:40.23 over the 26.2-mile course from Savikko Park out North Douglas Highway and back, and 2:42.05 the year before.
Running on pavement isn't Pusich's favorite thing to do - running trails is his true passion.
``Pavement takes it's toll on you,'' Pusich said. ``That distance on trails wouldn't be any big deal.''
Pusich recently finished 11th in the 28-mile Crow Pass Crossing from Girdwood to Eagle River, and plans to run the Angeles Crest 100-mile Endurance Run from Wrightwood to Pasadena, Calif., on Sept. 30.
``It has 21,610 feet of elevation gain, and 26,700 feet of loss,'' Pusich said of the Angeles race, which runs along part of the Pacific Crest Trail. ``That's 48,000 feet of elevation change.''
Pusich's biggest challenge could come from brother Dave, who placed fifth at Crow Pass, or local standout John Bursell, who, along with Paul Pusich and local runner Ken Maas, plan to run the 33-mile Chilkoot Trail if they get a break in the weather.
The Frank Maier Marathon often attracts out-of-town runners, so other challenges could come from there. In the 8-year history of the race, four of the men's winner have been from out of town, and three of the women's winners weren't local.
``You never know, it's just a challenge against yourself anyway,'' Pusich said.
The Frank Maier Marathon is the only marathon in Juneau. The out-and-back race begins at 8 a.m. at the picnic shelter at Sandy Beach. Slower runners or walkers start at 7 a.m. The course runs along the Douglas and North Douglas highways to just past False Outer Point and back. Water and Gatorade is available every three miles or so. Cost is $20.
The 13.1-mile Douglas Island Half-marathon is also available for runners, starting at 9 a.m. at the Sandy Beach picnic shelter. Pre-registration fee is $5, or $8 on race day.