Their names are a virtual "who's who" in the running community of Juneau. They have sprinted past the Capitol, slogged across the Mendenhall Wetlands State Game Refuge, burned their quads up Eaglecrest and slipped in bear scat on the glacier trails.
They are the participants in the Empire Cup, a series of running tests aimed for the brave-hearted, the adventurous, the mediocre, the beginner ... actually, anyone who wants to run, walk or crawl.
"For health," said Fred Triem. "Seriously, I can identify major benefits. My cholesterol and my blood pressure go way down ... and I just feel better."
Triem, took first in his 60+ age group this year.
"Running promotes good health and advances longevity," he said. "You get these whether you win the race or finish last, and I sometimes finish last."
Co-sponsored each year by the Southeast Road Runners Club and the Juneau Empire, the races in the Empire Cup series include the Sweethearts' Relay, Flannagan's Run, Glacier Run, KTOO Day One Run, May Day Mud Run, Kid's Rotary Park Run, Mendenhall Mud Puddle Meet, Nugget Alaskan Outfitters Lena Loop 5K & Kid's 1K Fun Run, Douglas Treadwell Ditch Trail Run, Windfall Lake Trail Challenge Run, Ben Blackgoat Memorial Perseverance Trail Run, Midsummer Night 10K/1 mile Runs, JRC/Alaska Club Governor's Cup 5K & Kids 1 mile Runs, Mt. Roberts Tram Run, Frank Maier Memorial Marathon and Douglas Island Half-Marathon, Treadwell twosome Traverse, Eaglecrest Races, Action Rehab 10k/1Mile and the East Glacier Trail Tangle.
"The Empire Cup was designed to award runners the opportunity to accumulate points in a series throughout the year," EC Director Shawn Miller said. "(It's) mainly designed to encourage people to participate in as many races as possible in order to accumulate points and it ties into the Southeast Road Runners' mission of promoting running in the community."
Runners must participate in at least three Empire Cup races to qualify for year-end awards. Every finisher in each qualifying race gets points as follows: In each division first place gets 10 points, second place receives 9 points, third place gets eight points. Fourth through ninth places recieve two points. All others, one point.
Not included in the EC: New Year's Day Run, Sea Coast Relay, False Outer Point Duathlon, Douglas 2-Mile Fun Run, Mt. Juneau Ridge Run, Nifty Fifty Relay, Beat The Odds Women's Race Against Cancer, Prostrate Cancer Run and the Veteran's Day 8K.
"One big appeal is for the younger kids," Southeast Road Runners president, Tristan Knutson-Lombardo said. "I remember when I was growing up it was a big deal because the results were printed in the Empire and you got a trophy at the end. For the community, while it is not cutthroat, it is a friendly competition and it brings more people out into the running community."
Knutson-Lombardo was an age group winner this year and is a past Crimson Bears champion.
Sara Raster competes in the 45-49 age group.
"I wasn't a runner before we moved here and that's the nice thing about Juneau," she said, "This is a very supportive and diverse community running group. The races are a great way to push your training, but anybody is encouraged to run no matter what your skill level."
Contact Klas Stolpe at email@example.com.
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