All of the participants can say they had a smokin’ time in this year’s Juneau Marathon and Half Marathon, regardless of how long it took them to complete the courses, thanks to unseasonably hot temperatures along with hazy air caused by smoke drift from Canada’s raging wildfires.
A total of 230 people registered for the two races, about 200 of whom finished the 26.2-mile and 13.1-mile courses, which is about 40 more than last year, said David Epstein, director of the races organized by Juneau Trail and Road Runners. The races began and ended at Savikko Park, with the full marathon course requiring runners to complete a there-and-back trip along most of the main road on Douglas Island.
Epstein said there appeared to be two reasons for the increase: strong word-of-mouth praise for last year’s race as local summer activities returned to pre-COVID-19 levels and a large number of people outside Juneau coming for the race.
“The Juneau marathon is considered a destination marathon,” he said, estimating half of this year’s participants came from outside Juneau.
Among the visitors was a group from Mainly Marathons, whose members try to complete marathons in all 50 states during a year, Epstein said. They arrived earlier during the week in Juneau, taking part in three of their own trail races on separate days before participating in the official marathon.
“These people have got bionic bones,” he said. “We had a bunch of them sign up, like 15 or 20.”
Temperatures under mostly sunny skies in Juneau reached a high of 77 degrees on Saturday, well above the average July 29 high of 64 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. Haze from the Canadian wildfires was also clearly visible, with a map by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration showing a “light” level of smoke drifting over a large section of Southeast Alaska.
“It was hot, but we didn’t have anyone keel over,” Epstein said.
The winner of the full marathon was Aaron Morrison of Juneau with a time of exactly 3 hours, 11 minutes, which was exactly six minutes ahead of Alonzo Wickers of Los Angeles who finished in 3:17. Gabby Rockwood of Park City, Utah, won the women’s division with a time of 3:39:14, with Tracy Morrison of Juneau finishing second with a time of 3:40:57.
The half marathon winner was Finn Morley of Juneau with a time of 1:12:46, finishing ahead of Zack Bursell of Juneau at 1:15:46. The fastest woman was Kayleigh Eddy of Petersburg with a time of 1:30:27, well ahead of second-place Kseniia Yarova of Juneau at 1:37:38.
Full results of both races are at jtrr.org/event/2023/race/755/ap.