There’s very little wildlife to watch out for where 17-year-old Bridget Patrick is used to running.
So it was with a little bit of amazement that Patrick, who is from the San Francisco Bay Area, inspected a bear pelt and bear claws with dozens of other runners on Friday afternoon just before running up Perseverance Trail.
“I was really glad that we don’t have to deal with bears where we live,” Patrick said afterward, “because that seems pretty scary.”
Patrick was one of 40 runners participating in the Lynn Canal Running Camp — which included a bear safety talk on Friday — in Juneau. The camp is geared toward helping runners of all abilities become better runners.
“We’re all here trying to get better at the same thing — that’s kind of the outcome (of camp),” camp co-director Tristan Knutson-Lombardo said. “We create this network of support so that they’re connecting with other athletes their ages from different places, but also adults with different experiences and histories with running.”
The camp started nine years ago, and has slowly picked up steam over the years. Knutson-Lombardo said over the last six years the camp has run at full capacity with 40 runners, who get to know each other over the course of a week with games, classes, team-building exercises and of course running. It attracts runners from all over — about a third of this year’s campers are from out of town.
“Everyone has been so nice, it’s been so great to become friends with all these people,” Patrick said. “It’s just such a healthy, non-competitive environment that it’s super fun to be able to run with people who like running too.”
This year’s lineup of trails included Under Thunder, East Glacier, Nugget Falls, Spaulding Meadows, Windfall Lake, Treadwell Ditch and Perseverance. The camp mixes up the runs every year so that no returning campers run on the same trail twice.
“We’re trying to avoid repeating the same things, which really isn’t that hard in a place like Juneau with a world-class trail system,” Knutson-Lombardo said.
Sophie Wright was one of five female runners on the Palmer High School cross country running team who came down for camp.
Wright said she was nervous when the camp began on Sunday, but after completing a 10-mile run on the second day she was already making strong connections with her fellow campers.
“That’s what’s really important to me because throughout the year, I’ll see all the Juneau people or more people from around the state at the state meet, and it will be cool to catch up,” Wright said.
Juneau-Douglas: Yadaat.at Kalé runner Finn Morley said the camp provides an opportunity for him to step into a leadership role with the younger campers who will become his teammates soon.
“When I was a freshman, I wanted to run with the older kids,” Morley said. “So it’s kind of kind of cool to run with the younger kids now.”
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or email@example.com. Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.