Miserable weather couldn't dampen the spirits of 159 adventurous athletes who competed in the 15th annual Frank Maier Marathon and Douglas Island Half Marathon on Saturday.
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Steady rain, nasty wind, temperatures in the 50s and a challenging course with rolling hills greeted runners representing 16 states on Sandy Beach.
Men's open champion Chuck Engle of Columbus, Ohio, completed the 26.2 miles in 2 hours, 43 minutes and 31 seconds, more than 20 minutes better than his closest competitor.
"Coming back, the headwind was tough," Engle said. "The course was pretty rolling. I could see that with no rain and cool conditions like this it could be a very fast course. There was great support, water stops every two miles and adequate people helping out. It was a small race, but this is beautiful."
The men's division featured talent from throughout the nation as runners from Ohio, Washington state and Virginia rounded out the top three.
Byron Adams, 43, flew up from New Orleans to compete in the race. He won the masters title.
"Everyone is so friendly," said Adams, who competed in his fourth marathon this year. "You couldn't ask for a better running atmosphere."
Seattle's Joel Seaton finished second in the open division after competing in his first-ever marathon.
A competitive high school and collegiate cross country runner before suffering a knee injury, Seaton said he enjoyed the town and being able to race against other athletes again.
"It's been four years since I ran because of my knees, but I managed," Seaton said. "I didn't think I'd get in all the training for this but I did it."
Another first-time marathoner shocked herself and the field as Juneau's Molly Krehlik captured the women's open title.
Krehlik, the field's youngest marathoner at 21, completed the down-and-back course in 3:25:29.
"I didn't know what to expect because I've never done one before," Krehlik said.
She said she decided to attack the race about a month ago and credited Juneau-Douglas High School cross country coach Merry Ellefson will helping her.
Despite her inexperience at 26.2 miles, Krehlik felt pleased with her pacing and was able to run almost identical times in the first and second halves.
"At Mile 22, I was like, 'Where are my friends? I need help,'" Krehlik said. "But I had a lot of friends out there so that helped."
There were no surprises in the Douglas Island Half Marathon as Juneau's Shawn Miller repeated as open division champion.
Miller, who owns the course record, won his third straight half marathon with a time of 1:12:16. Miller, 26, captured the Frank Maier Marathon in 2002 and 2003 before switching to the half marathon in 2004.
"I gave my best effort and that's the important part," Miller said. "This is just sort of a different, everyday type of race. That's how I treated it."
Miller didn't specifically train for the 13.1-mile run, instead choosing to focus on the Royal Victoria Marathon on Oct. 9, in Victoria, British Columbia.
Though this race didn't figure into his marathon preparation schedule, he added that he wouldn't miss the Douglas Island Half Marathon.
"First, it's such a great race because, despite the nasty weather, it's just chock full of volunteers out there," Miller said. "You have to give full respect to anyone who will stand out there for several hours and hand out Gatorade at aid stations."
Twins Tyler and Wesley Dinnan rounded out the top three. Tyler Dinnan took second in 1:20:29 with Wesley finishing 1:02 behind his brother.
In the women's half marathon, 24-year-old Darby Stacy captured the open title in 1:41:58.
Jordan Moser, 18, placed second in 1:46:26 while 38-year-old Jennifer Wardell finished third in 1:50:20.
While dreary conditions kept the bulk of the times relatively high, a local athlete set a new record in the wheelchair division.
Seth McBride, 23, shattered the half marathon wheelchair record when he posted a time of 1:37:22. Don Brandon set the previous record of 1:56.24 in 2004.
It was McBride's first-ever race.
"It was a lot of fun," McBride said. "It was a little wet, so I was having trouble getting my grip but other than that I had a good time."
In addition to competing in his first race, McBride is in training for his other athletic passion.
The 23-year-old Juneau-Douglas High School graduate is a member of the United States Wheelchair Rugby Team. He will be training with the national team starting Thursday in Montgomery, Ala., before heading to Christchurch, New Zealand, in September for the World Wheelchair Rugby Championships.
"It was good just being in a race," McBride said. "I do a lot of training and stuff, but races are a lot more fun."
Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at email@example.com.
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