April Rezendes (left) and Jenna Wiersma (right) embrace at the finish line after completing the Aukeman Triathlon at the University of Alaska Southeast campus on Sunday. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

April Rezendes (left) and Jenna Wiersma (right) embrace at the finish line after completing the Aukeman Triathlon at the University of Alaska Southeast campus on Sunday. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

The race must go on: Athletes compete in Aukeman Triathlon despite flood disruptions

A quick change of course meant a successful and safe race Sunday morning, officials say.

Record flooding from the release of Suicide Basin on Saturday didn’t stop about 100 racers of the Aukeman Triathlon from getting into the cold waters of Auke Lake on Sunday morning — but it did require a change of course.

“It took out our whole sprint course, but I think the racers are all having a good time — no one’s getting lost with Suicide Basin filling up,” said Tracey Morrison, one of the head volunteer coordinators for the race Sunday morning, as racers crossed the finish line at the University of Alaska Southeast Campus.

A sunny Sunday morning greeted the participants of the annual triathlon which features a sprint distance course of a 750-meter swim, a 19-kilometer bike ride and a 5-kilometer run, and an Olympic distance course of a 1.5-kilometer swim, 40-kilometer bike and 10-kilometer run.

Stephanie Sauve embraces her daughter Autumn after completing the sprint race of the Aukeman Triathlon at the University of Alaska Southeast campus Sunday. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Stephanie Sauve embraces her daughter Autumn after completing the sprint race of the Aukeman Triathlon at the University of Alaska Southeast campus Sunday. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

The day before the race was set to happen at least one large home was washed into Mendenhall River, and multiple homes closer to Mendenhall Glacier were flooded and cut off from road access in what officials called the worst release of water from Suicide Basin since annual cycles began in 2011.

According to Race Director Liz Smith, she and other race officials were monitoring the Suicide Basin situation Saturday evening to assess what steps were needed to ensure the safety of the participants, and not obstruct any response efforts.

Smith said typically the sprint bike portion of the race takes place as an out-and-back course from the UAS campus to the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. However, due to the flooding and the emergency responses underway, race officials decided at 5 a.m. to send the sprint bikers out the road alongside the Olympic bikers’ course.

Rows of bikes line the parking lot of the University of Alaska Southeast campus Sunday morning during the Aukeman Triathlon. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Rows of bikes line the parking lot of the University of Alaska Southeast campus Sunday morning during the Aukeman Triathlon. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

The quick switch-up ended up making the race run a bit easier than normal, she said, as it negated the confusion of having two separate bike courses for the Olympic and sprint race.

Both Morrison and Smith said the success of the quick change going smoothly is largely due to the more than 40 volunteers helping assist with the race.

Volunteers hold the two medals handed out to the respective racers of the Olympic and sprint races of the Aukeman Triathlon held at the University of Alaska Southeast campus Sunday morning. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Volunteers hold the two medals handed out to the respective racers of the Olympic and sprint races of the Aukeman Triathlon held at the University of Alaska Southeast campus Sunday morning. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

And, despite the disruption, Smith said the race still turned out to have one of the largest groups of participants to date with 100 people entering the water for the start of the race early Sunday morning.

“That might be the most ever,” she said, noting at least a few of the participants were people who originally booked to race in the Ironman Alaska which was canceled in December despite having a three-year contract in Juneau.

“A handful of people came into town for the Ironman and had a vacation booked came and found our race,” she said.

First-time Aukeman sprint race finisher Erin Heard crossed the finish line with the help of her son Parker, 5, Sunday morning. After the race, she said she felt the race was “good, but challenging,” noting with the switch-up of the course she “wasn’t prepared for that much uphill — but we made it.”

Erin Heard heads to the finish line with the help of her son Parker, 5, as she completes the sprint race of the Aukeman Triathlon at the University of Alaska Southeast campus on Sunday. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Erin Heard heads to the finish line with the help of her son Parker, 5, as she completes the sprint race of the Aukeman Triathlon at the University of Alaska Southeast campus on Sunday. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Hiram Henry, an Aukeman Olympic race finisher, said he “felt great” and remarked on the nice weather.

“It’s fun, it feels not so fun when you are doing it, but after it, it feels great,” he said, laughing. The race was Henry’s fifth Aukeman.

Hiram Henry races to the finish line Sunday morning as he completes the Olympic race of the Aukeman Triathlon at the University of Alaska Southeast campus. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Hiram Henry races to the finish line Sunday morning as he completes the Olympic race of the Aukeman Triathlon at the University of Alaska Southeast campus. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Race results

Olympic race: Charlie Waters was the top finisher of the race and the top male finisher, completing the race in two hours, 23 minutes and 46 seconds. Eliza Dorn was the top-finishing female, completing the race in two hours, 31 minutes and 58 seconds.

Sprint race: Pacific Ricke was both the top finisher of the race and the top female finisher, completing the race in one hour, 23 minutes and 30 seconds. Mitchell Schumacher was the second finisher of the race and the top male finisher, completing the race in one hour and 28 minutes.

Sprint relay: The sprint relay team “Sink, Crash, Fall,” was the top finishing team with a time of one hour, 31 minutes and five seconds.

• Contact Clarise Larson at clarise.larson@juneauempire.com or (651) 528-1807.

More in News

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Aurora forecast for the week of April 8

These forecasts are courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Friday, April 12, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Thursday, April 11, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

The sky and mountains are reflected in the water on April 5, 2012, at the Kootznoowoo Wilderness in the Tongass National Forest’s Admiralty Island National Monument. Conservation organizations bought some private land and transferred it to the U.S. Forest Service, resulting in an incremental expansion of the Kootznoowoo Wilderness and protection of habitat important to salmon and wildlife. (Photo by Don MacDougall/U.S. Forest Service)
Conservation groups’ purchase preserves additional land in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest

A designated wilderness area in Southeast Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, the largest… Continue reading

A welcome sign is shown Sept. 22, 2021, in Tok. President Joe Biden won Alaska’s nominating contest on Saturday. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
Biden wins more delegates in Alaska and Wyoming as he heads toward Democratic nomination

President Joe Biden nudged further ahead in the Democratic nomination for reelection… Continue reading

Juneau Assembly members and other visitors examine a meeting room formerly used by the nine-member Alaska State Board of Education and Early Development on Monday, April 8, which is about 25% larger than the Assembly Chambers at City Hall. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Of three possible new City Hall buildings, one stands out — but plenty of proposed uses for other two

Michael J. Burns Building eyed as city HQ; childcare, animal shelter among options at school sites.

Senate President Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, speaks to members of the Senate majority caucus’ leadership group on Friday. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Schools, university and projects across Alaska are set to receive money from new budget bill

Alaska Senate sends draft capital budget to House as work continues on a state spending plan

The Boney Courthouse in downtown Anchorage, across the street from the larger Nesbett Courthouse, holds the Alaska Supreme Court chambers. (Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska judge strikes down state’s cash payments to families using correspondence school programs

Decision will become a ‘hot-button legislative item’ in final weeks of session, lawmakers say.

A statue of William Henry Seward stands outside the Dimond Courthouse in downtown Juneau. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Juneau man convicted of sexual abuse of 15-year-old girl more than four years after incidents occur

JPD: Randy James Willard, 39, sent explicit videos to and engaged in sexual contact with victim.

Most Read