John Bursell wins the 2018 Aukeman Triathlon at the University of Alaska Southeast on Saturday, August 4, 2018. (Nolin Ainsworth | Juneau Empire)

John Bursell wins the 2018 Aukeman Triathlon at the University of Alaska Southeast on Saturday, August 4, 2018. (Nolin Ainsworth | Juneau Empire)

Record number turns out for Aukeman

Bursell, Callahan top record field

Overcast, dry and 58 degrees, the conditions couldn’t have been much better for the 10th annual Aukeman Triathlon Saturday morning. Even Auke Lake, after weeks of basking in the warmest month in history, felt warmer.

“We’re so lucky this year. It was a couple degrees warmer than it usually is which is really pleasant,” Jordan Callahan, 30, said. “So it wasn’t painful at all when you get in the water.”

Callahan finished her sixth Aukeman — a 750-meter swim, 19-kilometer out-and-back bike to the glacier and 5-kilometer Auke Lake trail run — as the top woman competitor, the third time in a row she’s accomplished that feat.

“It’s a really fun event every year,” she said. “It’s fun to push yourself and it’s fun to see other people pushing themselves.”

John Bursell was the men’s and overall champion for the third time in four years. Bursell smiled as he jogged briskly past the finish line outside the University of Alaska Southeast’s Novatney Building just before 8:40 a.m., cowbell and applause filling the air. His time of 1 hour, 6 minutes, 31 seconds was just over two minutes slower than his winning time last year. Jonathan Hill (1:09:11), Justin Dorn (1:09:41), Jim Ustasiewski (1:11:15) and Jake Meyer (1:11:28) rounded out the top-five overall.

“I felt really solid the whole way,” Bursell said about 10 minutes after the finish, the vast majority of the competition still laboring to the finish. “I had good energy and was able to pace well.”

Race director Liz Smith said the triathlon reached full capacity this year as 99 people registered for the race. The figure, which included three relay teams, is the most in the history of the race. About 100 people used the Egan Drive bike trail as bleachers to take in the entirety of the half-mile swim, which kicked off the race and was won by 26-year-old Cody Brunette. The former Juneau-Douglas High School swim standout would relinquish the lead about a mile after getting on his bike outside the Mourant Building.

“It’s my favorite part of the race, probably,” Brunette said of coming out of the water. “Because I get to win for like 30 seconds from when I finish the swim to when I go through the transition and then I just get smoked on the bike.”

Thunder Mountain High School senior Anna Frazier was also strong in the water. Frazier, 17, was the youngest person in the race. She said her cross-country running coach, Scott May, talked her into doing it.

“I probably could’ve gone faster, but I just have to keep that in mind for next time,” Frazier said.


• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or nainsworth@juneauempire.com. Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.


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