On a nice day, there’s few places Bryan Hitchcock would rather run than across a mountain ridge.
“It’s a spot where you just get to feel the freedom of the mountains,” Hitchcock said Tuesday afternoon in a phone interview.
The return of the Juneau Ridge Race on Saturday — a 15-mile race up and down Mount Juneau and along the Juneau Ridge — hopes to gives racers that same experience.
“We felt like Juneau didn’t have a good running mountain race that really showcased what it was like here to run in the mountains,” Hitchcock, race co-director, said.
The race begins at 9 a.m. Saturday at Cope Park, and runners can register online at ultrasignup.com. The race route travels along downtown streets, Basin Road, Perseverance Trail and of course Mount Juneau.
Juneau Trail and Road Runners used to sponsor the race, according to Hitchcock, but it’s been over a decade since the last time it was offered. While participants are not expected to run the entire race, runners should be able to complete it in under six hours. There will be three checkpoints along the trail, and participants are required to bring along water, food and warm weather gear.
“If people can hike strong and run the flats and the downs reasonably well, then it’s open to anybody who could do that,” Hitchcock said.
Just short of 50 individuals registered as of Tuesday afternoon. Hitchcock said he expects the fastest times to be three hours.
“There’s a couple of runners signed up right now, both men and women, that are probably going to run times that will be challenging for anybody to match, this year or potentially future years,” Hitchcock said.
Allan Spangler is one of the men registered for the race. Spangler has been nothing short of dominant through the first half of the JTRR summer racing schedule, having won the Ben Blackgoat Memorial, Mount Roberts Tram and Eaglecrest Road and Trail races. At the Eaglecrest Road and Trail Race last weekend, Spangler finished in the 1 hour, 10 minutes, 56 seconds.
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.