Runners begin the Ben Blackgoat Memorial Run on Basin Road last year. The 23rd annual Ben Blackgoat Memorial Run is Saturday. (Nolin Ainsworth | Juneau Empire File)

Runners begin the Ben Blackgoat Memorial Run on Basin Road last year. The 23rd annual Ben Blackgoat Memorial Run is Saturday. (Nolin Ainsworth | Juneau Empire File)

Remembering Ben: Perseverance Trail race keeps late runner’s memory alive

Race begins at 9 a.m.

The Ben Blackgoat Memorial Run on Perseverance Trail is Juneau’s most popular trail run.

It’s also the one that hits the closest to home for Paul DeSloover, the director of the race since it began in 1997. Blackgoat and DeSloover’s daughter, Breea, were teammates on the Juneau-Douglas High School cross country running team when Blackgoat died in a running accident on Perseverance Trail on Thanksgiving eve of 1996. Blackgoat was just 17.

“It was a very sad Thanksgiving day,” DeSloover said by phone on Thursday afternoon.

Blackgoat slipped on a patch of ice and fell off a dangerous portion of the trail.

[Runners cover Perseverance Trail in under 45 minutes]

DeSloover started running in the wake of the tragedy, helping get the race up and running and later joining the running club. The run consists of 2, 4, and 7-mile options, and attracts on average 70 runners, according to DeSloover. The event has been especially popular with high school runners, some of them past teammates of Blackgoat.

DeSloover remembers Blackgoat as “someone you want your daughter to hang around” and “a nice kid.”

“Even though at that time he was fastest high school runner in the state, he had no ego about it,” DeSloover said.

Guy Thibodeau was Blackgoat’s cross country running coach for one season. Blackgoat transferred to JDHS from Colony High School in Palmer prior to his junior year.

“It’s great to see his spirit live on somewhat,” Thibodeau said. “It’s just such a tragedy to lose somebody who was not only a really top runner, but just a tremendous person. He just really affected the other kids on the team, and he fit right in.”

The race starts begins at 9 a.m. at the end of Basin Road and registration will begin by 8:30 a.m. Race entrants don’t have to decide which distance they want to run before the start. The race proceeds will go toward the Ben Blackgoat Memorial Scholarship, which is awarded to high school graduates who have committed themselves to running.


• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or nainsworth@juneauempire.com. Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.