Cleary, Metzgar best field to win marathon

Frank Maier Marathon draws runners from 20 states and varying backgrounds

Posted: Sunday, August 07, 2005

Seattle's Peter Cleary and Jodi Metzgar of Fort Collins, Colo., ran in the same race Saturday, but took different routes to victory in the annual Frank Maier Marathon.

Cleary, 37, is an experienced marathoner who completed his fifth race this year and the 11th of his career. He traveled to Juneau specifically for the 26.2-mile race along the Douglas and North Douglas highways.

"I came up here just to run the race," Cleary said. "I wanted to get away from Seattle, and I wanted to check out Southeast Alaska. It was beautiful, especially Mile 13 and 14 with the (Mendenhall) Glacier visible and two bald eagles fighting with each other."

While Cleary boasts considerable experience; the 29-year-old Metzgar is a marathon novice. A 1994 Juneau-Douglas High School graduate who now works as a strength and conditioning coach at Colorado State University, Metzgar was in Juneau visiting family and entered the marathon as a lark.

"It was my very first marathon," Metzgar said. "I'm up here on vacation and my brother (Charlie, a pilot in the U.S. Air Force who finished fifth in the men's race) said we should run the marathon. It was both of our firsts. I've never run that road, ever."

In the men's marathon, Cleary hoped to break three hours but wound up settling for a time of 3 hours, 3 minutes and 39 seconds. He held off 66-year-old wonder Glenn Frick of Juneau who took second place overall and first among masters division runners (age 40-older) in 3:08:25. Another marathon rookie, Bryce Iverson, 18, of Manassas, Va., took third place overall in 3:14:08 for his first marathon.

Frick is another experienced marathoner, but Saturday's race was the first he'd finished since posting a 2:47 in the Sacramento (Calif.) marathon nine years ago. In past years, if he hadn't felt like he was running well or had a shot at a decent placing, Frick pulled out of the race to cheer on other runners.

"I don't run for second, in general," Frick said. "But I thought this guy (Cleary) might topple over. If I could win in 3:10 I'd be happy, but I normally drop out."

Iverson, who grew up in Juneau but moved to Virginia after his freshman year at JDHS, was another marathon novice. Iverson, who will run for Clemson University this fall, decided to run the marathon with former JDHS teammate Jesse Stringer. But Iverson started itching from a case of hives midway through the course and at the 16-mile mark he left Stringer behind.

"I started itching and I decided I had to get this race done," Iverson said. "It was fun, but I don't think I'll do this again, maybe when I'm older."

In the women's race, Cori Metzgar posted a winning time of 3:39:43 to beat her goal time of 3:45. Anne Johnson, 41, finished in 3:41:24 and took second place among women and was the top masters finisher. Fillis Friedman, 52, of Franklin, Texas, took third among women in 3:56:25.

Johnson said Saturday's race was her 17th marathon, with her last one being the Twin Cities Marathon in Minneapolis-St. Paul last October. Johnson moved to Juneau from Minneapolis this summer after she said she fell in love with the area after competing in the Midnight Sun Marathon in the Yukon Territory last summer.

"It was hilly, Minnesota's flat," Johnson said. "But I love it."

Don Brandon, 51, of Juneau was the only wheelchair racer in the marathon and finished in 3:57:20.

There were 53 finishers in the marathon, representing 20 states.

The marathon attracted several runners trying to complete marathons in all 50 states, and some who have done a lot more. Dharam "Paul" Piplani of Phoenix said Saturday's race was his 614th marathon (and fifth Frank Maier), then he took off to catch the ferry so he can run in today's Yukon Marathon in Whitehorse.

"This is one of the five best in the country," Piplani said.

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