Hiram Henry, 48, topped the field in the 7.5-mile portion of Saturday’s Magnificent Mendenhall Mudpuddle Meet in a time of 48 minutes 59 seconds that included a sprint finish among three athletes, including World Ironman competitor John Bursell, 59, who finished second in 49:05.
“We evolve, right, through 50 minutes,” Henry said. “I am always amazed with Bursell’s pace, which is always so consistent. He’s got it nailed. When we started I thought, ‘John’s going kind of slow, slower than I expect.’ But I remembered he does this. He starts so comfortable and at the midway point calculates how much gas he has in the tank and that is when he is going to go negative on his splits. So I told myself to just stay, don’t go. ‘Don’t pass Bursell. That is just a bad idea.’ But at the midway point when you and I and Bursell were just hanging in a perfect triangle, I thought, ‘this is a race, everyone is hanging tight, something is going to happen by the end.’ Then we hit the hill. John tried to weed us out on the hill but he couldn’t get rid of us….It isn’t all about analyzing Bursell but it is interesting running with that sage and experienced person who is just rock solid.”
Bursell, in training for Canada’s Victoria Half Triathlon with wife, Jamie, said he wanted a solid threshold run.
“A pace I could run for about an hour at the very most,” Bursell said. “So that is where you can maintain that effort without going over your lactate threshold and build up too much lactate acid in your blood…”
Bursell noted that building up lactate acid shows your body is tiring.
“If you go over that effort level then you can’t hold it,” he said.
Eliza Dorn, 39, was the top female competitor in the 7.5-mile race and sixth overall with a time of 54:56.
“I thought it was really fun, and it was in the sun,” Dorn said. She is also training for the Victoria Half as well as riding the Kluane Chilkat Bike race and a full Canada Ironman in August. “It was a fun course, the trails and the neighborhoods… No surprises in this race. Hills are never fun but it was a fun race. It was a good turnout. It’s fun to see people. I had never done this one before and I just really enjoyed being on the trail. It brings back all those feelings of all the triathlon running I have done around here.”
Due to a structural course issue, the original 8-mile race was shortened to 7.5 miles. The route started at the Auke Lake boat launch parking lot and followed the bike path south along Egan Drive to Karl Reishus Boulevard (left) to the gravel horse trail and connected to Brotherhood Bridge Trail. Runners turned right on the footbridge and left behind the Thunder Mountain Track to Riverside Drive and then to Back Loop Road. They took a left to Auke Lake Trail and finished in the parking lot at the boat launch.
“Basically it was the same route as years past,” co-race director Quinn Tracy said. “But this year the bridge over Montana Creek was closed so we had to reroute around Riverside Drive and Back Loop…”
The reroute included a near-mile hill.
“I thought people in Juneau loved to run hills,” Tracy said. “You have to have a course in Juneau that has a hill. There is no other way to go.”
Co-race director Heather Parker said, “We really love the running community here in Juneau and we love these races so we just wanted to pitch in for this particular race… and we love loop races. It looked like people were having a good time.”
Bursell led the early pace with this reporter to the final Back Loop hill where Bursell took a two-second gap followed by Henry. Henry took a three-second lead through the roller coaster Auke Lake Trail and was briefly overtaken by Bursell in the final 100 yards but held on for the win.
“That was the point where I was going to make my move,” Bursell said of the Auke Lake Trail. “He beat me to it. Then I realized I couldn’t make a move so I had to just take my time and see if I could close the gap on the downhills. He seemed to be running faster on the uphills and I was faster on the downhills and the flats…”
Rowan Taintor, 10, won the one-mile race with a time of 7:19.
Following Taintor were Sevyn Jefferys (11) in 10:14, Jessica Jefferys (37) 10:17, Isla Taintor (5) 10:55, Amelia Kreuger (7) 11:01, Dylan Kreuger 11:01, Orion Davis (2) 19:31, and Myron Davis (45) 19:31.
MMMM 7.5 Mile results:
Henry (48) 48:59, Bursell (59) 49:05, Klas Stolpe (63) 49:07, Tim Mikulski (24) 54:13, Randy Peterson (37) 54:26, Dorn (39) 54:56, Danielle Dunivin (33) 1:01:37, James Driggers 1:03:15, Becky Bohrer (45) 1:03:17, Michele Shirakura (57) 1:03:18, Ken Platt (61) 1:03:52, Layne Cutnose (19) 1:05:41, Finn Peterson (1) 1:06:28, April Rezendes (38) 1:06:29, Terese Pukorne (24) 1:06:41, Guy Crockroft (63) 1:07:04, Brianne Mecum (40) 1:07:35, Matt Leither (35) 1:08:14, Jamie Bursell (60) 1:10:32, Kristin McTague (52) 1:12:46, Jeff Gnass (76) 1:16:14, Susan Cable (58) 1:24:27, and Linda Kruger (72) 1:54:55.
The race was part of the Nugget Alaska Outfitters Cup/Juneau Trail and Road Runners series. The next race is May 20, the Spring Tide Scramble (3 or 7 mile) at Fish Creek Bridge on North Douglas.