The Mount Roberts tram run is a pure guts race. At 3.5 miles up one of the steepest trails in Juneau, climbing the 1,800 vertical feet to Father Brown’s cross in anything less than 40 minutes is a miracle.
Nat Herz dogged behind race champion Hiram Henry the entire way, finishing 19 seconds behind the champion. He lurched to the cross doubled over before giving Henry a high five. When asked how the course was, Herz gave a two-word reply: “It hurt.”
“He was ahead of me the whole time and I was hoping he was going to get tired but he didn’t,” Herz said after finishing the Saturday morning race. “I am not very fast on the flat part, but I train a lot on mountains, so I thought I might be able to close the gap, but I was tired.”
Henry’s race-leading 35 minutes 14 seconds time came at a cost.
“It hurts, it always does,” Henry said, adding that he couldn’t shake Herz and felt like the pressure from behind kept him “honest.”
“He was breathing down my neck the whole time, keeping me honest,” Henry said, laughing. “The conditions were dry and easy. Well, ‘easy’ is not the right word for it. The course was well-behaved today, let’s put it that way.”
Behind Henry and Herz came Alyssa Shaw, who finished a full eleven minutes ahead of the next female competitor with a time of 38:55.
Runners say if you finish this race with a time anything less than your age, you’re aging gracefully. (At the age of 38, Shaw tied hers.) That may be impossible for twelve-year-old Alexander Kwa, who finished in sixth place at 43:25, but it doesn’t stop him from impressing the crowd.
Kwa, a native of the Australian island of Tasmania, has been running in mountains since he was a kindergartner. He travelled to Juneau for the summer with his father, Caleb Gardner, a fisheries scientist on sabbatical who says his son starting beating him much too early for his comfort.
“He started beating me about three years ago and it was just terrible,” Gardner said with a grin, clearly proud with Kwa. “He made me feel old. I was training as hard as I ever have and he still beat me.”
Kwa said running is his favorite thing to do.
“I’ve done training runs in King’s Canyon in Central Australia, but that’s like up and down the whole way,” he said. “This is very tiring for a 5K.”
Top 10 Men
1. Hiram Henry 35:14
2. Nat Herz 35:33
3. Geoff Roes 38:57
4. Rob VanHouten 39:37
5. Alexander Kwa 43:25
6. Jeff Machakos 43:39
7. Daren Booton 43:56
8. Randy Peterson 44:09
9. Brian McTague 44:23
10. Avery Grossarat 44:40
Top 10 Women
1. Alyssa Shaw 38:55
2. Susie Pothier 49:56
3. Liz Brooks 50:47
4. Jamie Bursell 51:09
5. Pauline Strons 51:50
6. Amanda Lindsey 52:13
7. Colleen Jay 56:15
8. Sarah Brister 56:18
9. Lindsay McTague 56:44
10. Alejandra Rico 57:00