Shawn Miller hands his racing jersey tag to a volunteer after winning the Goldbelt Tram-Mount Roberts Run on Saturday with a time of 35 minutes, 52 seconds. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Shawn Miller hands his racing jersey tag to a volunteer after winning the Goldbelt Tram-Mount Roberts Run on Saturday with a time of 35 minutes, 52 seconds. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Goldbelt Tram-Mount Roberts Run delivers a 22-caliber challenge

Smaller-than-usual field competes after race delayed seven weeks, but victors still get peak thrill.

This year’s Goldbelt Tram-Mount Roberts Run started way late — seven weeks after its originally scheduled date — but that allowed Rick Becker a chance to finish way early in his first-ever trail race.

“I told my wife I was going to try to break 60 (minutes),” said Becker, 68, a resident of Washington state who happened to be in Juneau visiting his daughter when the postponed race took place Saturday. “Looks like I made 40.”

Rick Becker rests against the Father Brown Cross after finishing second in the Goldbelt Tram-Mount Roberts Run on Saturday. He said it was the first trail race he has participated in. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Rick Becker rests against the Father Brown Cross after finishing second in the Goldbelt Tram-Mount Roberts Run on Saturday. He said it was the first trail race he has participated in. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

His time of 40 minutes, 51 seconds was good enough for second overall in the 3.5-mile race that started at the base of the Goldbelt Tram, proceeded up steep downtown streets to the trailhead on Basin Road, climbed up a switchbacking trail filled with tree roots and stairs, and finished 1,800 feet above the starting line at the Father Brown Cross overlooking downtown Juneau.

Being among the top three finishers meant he won a season pass for the tram for next year, an achievement he said occurred despite his newness to mountain racing because “I ran the last patch of the trail faster than I thought I could.”

The race was originally scheduled July 8, but postponed due to mechanical difficulties that disrupted tram operations for several days. Linda Kruger, the race director, said she rescheduled the race for Aug. 26 because it was a weekend when no Juneau Trail & Road Runners events were scheduled.

Twenty-two runners take off from the starting line of the Goldbelt Tram-Mount Roberts Run at the base of the tram on Saturday morning. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Twenty-two runners take off from the starting line of the Goldbelt Tram-Mount Roberts Run at the base of the tram on Saturday morning. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

But she said while nearly 40 people signed up for the event — including 29 who were preregistered — only 22 runners participated because many who signed up told her they were involved in a high school cross-country meet occurring at the same time in Douglas.

The overall winner of this year’s race was Shawn Miller with a time of 35:52. While that was a bit slower than the 34:27 during the other time he ran the mountainside course in 2019, it still represented a peak accomplishment.

“I was motivated and the fact I missed the Nifty Fifty because I was sick for three weeks,” he said, referring to an annual local race with courses up to 50K that took place two weekends ago.

Robin Welling touches the Father Brown Cross to complete the Goldbelt Tram-Mount Roberts Run on Saturday. She was the fastest woman racer and third overall with a time of exactly 42 minutes. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Robin Welling touches the Father Brown Cross to complete the Goldbelt Tram-Mount Roberts Run on Saturday. She was the fastest woman racer and third overall with a time of exactly 42 minutes. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

The fastest women’s finisher — and third overall — was Robin Welling with a time of 42:00. Welling, a hydrologist for the U.S. Forest Service in Juneau, said it was her first time participating in the race, but she runs the trail frequently after work. She said she also did the Nifty Fifty and the Juneau Ridge Race — a 15-mile race that involves 5,000 feet of elevation gain — earlier this summer.

“This was supposed to be easy, but it’s not,” she said. “This is a different sort of effort. It’s short and high intensity.”

• Contact Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com or (907) 957-2306.

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