Susan Doherty of Ketchikan enjoyed her first trip to the Humboldt Redwoods Marathon near Weott, Calif., two years ago, when she ran the race with a couple of friends from Ketchikan.
But when she decided to return to the race Sunday, Doherty had no idea she'd leave as the women's winner. Doherty covered the 26.2-mile course in 3 hours, 5 minutes, 35 seconds to take 12th place overall. Billy Morris of McKinleyville, Calif., won the men's division in 2:39:06.
"I went back because I knew there'd be nice weather and no wind because of all the trees," Doherty said. "It's a flat course and I like small marathons. It's a nice spot to go. It's incredibly beautiful."
The Humboldt Redwoods Marathon winds through Humboldt Redwoods State Park, an old-growth redwood forest that includes the famous Avenue of the Giants. There were 345 finishers in the marathon and 974 in the half-marathon, including about a dozen runners from Southeast Alaska.
Doherty, who is a fisheries biologist and a swimming instructor, said she met a friend in Portland, Ore., then they drove to California for the race. As soon as the race was over, Doherty and her friend hopped back in the car and headed back to Oregon.
"It was fun," Doherty said. "It's always fun to meet up with people who are as crazy as you. This is the first race where I've won money. I won $100 and a gift certificate from a hotel in Eureka. I put the money in my training fund, but I figure with all the hours I put in training it works out to cents an hour."
Doherty was the third Alaskan to finish the race, behind Joel Wattum of Kodiak in fifth place and Mark Doner of Palmer in ninth. She said her goal was to break three hours and, even though she missed her goal, she still set a personal record by five minutes.
"At the end I was pushing as hard as I could. I was pleased with my time," said Doherty, who ran for the Juneau-based team Vestigial Appendages in the Klondike International Road Relay from Skagway to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, in September. "I always try to do one (marathon) in the fall. The Klondike is always a good test to see where your training is going. I did look up to see if there's another marathon I can do in December."
Keith Levy of Juneau was the next runner from Southeast to finish the marathon, taking 20th place in 3:11:58. Mark Sabbatini of Juneau took 43rd in 3:25:54, Chas Dense of Juneau took 48th in 3:28:54 and Clayton Hawkes of Juneau was 78th in 3:38:42.
Dawn Walsh of Douglas took 95th place overall and 19th among women in 3:44:54, followed by Sharon Fisher of Juneau in 115th overall and 25th among women in 3:51:36, Rhonda Bedard of Juneau in 152nd overall (38th woman) in 3:58:50, Kristan Sabbatini in 192nd overall (57th woman) in 4:11:37 and Kathryn Daughhetee of Juneau in 211th overall (66th woman) in 4:16:20.
The only Juneau runner in the half-marathon was Lisa Kirsh, who took 161st overall and 43rd among women in a time of 1:34:42.
This is a popular time for Alaska runners to compete in out-of-state marathons, as about 20 runners from Southeast have been in various marathons across the country this month.
Tracy Rivera of Juneau took 71st overall in the Royal Victoria Marathon in Victoria, British Columbia, on Oct. 8, posting a time of 3:04:19. His wife, Kim Rivera, took 1,047th overall and 295th among women in the same race with a time of 3:59:18.
Sarah Haywood took 957th overall and 269th among women in 3:56:01 at the Royal Victoria Marathon, her husband John Haywood Jr. was 1,846th overall in 4:38:17 and his father John Haywood Sr. of Juneau was 2,067th overall in 4:57:43. Nancy Huebschen of Juneau took 1,785th overall and 688th among women in 4:33:45 and Elizabeth 'Bess' Jones of Juneau was 2,140th overall (889th woman) in 5:09:21.
On the same day in Scranton, Pa., four Juneau runners competed in the Steamtown Marathon. Steff Thomas took 457th overall in 3:38:36 while his wife, Nancy Thomas, was 654th overall in 3:51:52. Deb Rudis took 510th in 3:41:11 and Steve McPhetres took 811st in 4:02:36.
Dave Lesh of Gustavus finished the Twin Cities Marathon on Oct. 8 in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn., posting a time of 3:29:42 to take 908th place overall.
Three Juneau runners will compete this Sunday in the Chicago Marathon -- Sandi Pahlke, Nancy Potts and Caro Rosier-Polley. Last year former Alaskan David Morris, who attended Chugiak High School, set an American record of 2:09:32 for the marathon when he took fourth place overall in the Chicago Marathon. Morris is also scheduled to be among the elite runners in the race Sunday.