John Kern in 2014. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

John Kern in 2014. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Running club president steps down

John Kern increased club participation in five years at helm

Juneau Road and Trail Runners President John Kern is looking to move on from his post.

The volunteer position calls for putting together the annual race calendar, training and appointing race directors and sitting on the board.

“Three to five years is really a good term of service and definitely a time when it’s good to transition to somebody new and get some new energy,” Kern, who succeeded Tristan Knutson-Lombardo as club president in 2014, said by phone Wednesday. “I’ve got some other interests I’d like to pursue.”

JTRR — formerly known as the Southeast Road Runners Club — has been putting on community races for decades. This year the club supported 36 runs for over 1,000 runners and walkers. The Juneau Marathon and Half Marathon (formerly known as the Frank Maier Marathon) is the club’s most popular event and attracts several hundred participants. The typical Saturday morning 5K and 1-mile fun run, the club’s bread-and-butter, can see anywhere between 10 and 50 entrants.

“It’s a great group of people to work with and a great activity to be a part of,” Kern said.

As someone who wasn’t a runner for much of his life, Kern understood everyone is on their own unique journey. When he became president, Kern’s goal was to create a place where everyone — regardless of experience and background — could feel celebrated and welcomed. He made sure race directors kept the timer going until everyone made it across the finish line. When he was starting out around 20 years ago, that didn’t always happen.

“I think I can say some runs probably didn’t wait for the last person to get across the finish line if they were too slow,” Kern said. “But nationally, as well, there was this change in attitudes toward running, where you didn’t have to necessarily be the fastest in the race to still participate in the race.”

Kern attributes the shift in attitudes towards racing to John “Penguin” Bingham, a well-known writer for the “Runner’s World” who spoke in Juneau about the topic.

The club grew by 30 percent in Kern’s first year at the helm — from 1,090 individual participants in 2013 to 1,608 in 2014. The club experienced another record year in 2015 with over 200 more runners joining the fold.

“In 2015, 2016, participation really peaked,” Kern said. “A lot of that participation was from all the individuals that came to the club realizing that it didn’t matter whether you were competitive or wanted to win the race. It only mattered as to whether you wanted to show up and run. I think I can say that over the past five years I’ve seen a lot people at the events that wouldn’t have been considered runners in the previous sense, step up to the line and just have the greatest time, and really transform their lives through running.”

To become involved in JTRR, send emails to johnakern@gmail.com or go to www.juneauserr.wixsite.com/serr.


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


More in Sports

Thomas Waerner, of Norway, celebrates in Nome his win in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Waerner is still waiting to return to his home in Norway. Waerner and his 16 dogs have been stranded in Alaska by travel restrictions and flight cancellations caused by the coronavirus pandemic. (Marc Lester | Anchorage Daily News via AP, File)
Virus strands Norway racer in Alaska after Iditarod win

Man and 16 dogs been stranded in Alaska by travel restrictions and flight cancellations.

JDHS baseball coaches bid farewell to seniors

We will never know how good we would have been. I do know that we would have worked hard all year

Sosan Monsef hands off the baton to teammate Sadie Tuckwood during the 2018 Alaska Track and Field State Championships. (Courtesy Photo | For JDHS Track & Field)
JDHS track and field coaches bid farewell to seniors

The 2020 Track & Field season was looking to be one for the record books.

TMHS baseball coaches bid farewell to seniors

Unfortunately, these fine young men will never get to know what it… Continue reading

JDHS boys soccer coaches bid farewell to seniors

These seniors had a great run during their years playing soccer at JDHS.

TMHS softball coaches bid farewell to seniors

The Falcon softball team and coaching staff wishes the best to our five graduating seniors

JDHS softball coaches bid farewell to seniors

We were looking forward to having a successful season with our four seniors leading our team.

Eva Goering signs her committement to play college soccer for North Idaho College. (Courtesy photo | Heidi Johnson)
Double trouble: Two JDHS soccer players headed to Idaho together

They’ve been playing together for a decade.

Braden Jenkins has committed to playing college basketball at Luther College. (Courtesy photo | John Blasco)
Thunder Mountain trio signs to play college basketball

The last time three players signed in one year was 2014.

Courtesy Photo | Eldred Rock Lighthouse Preservation Association
                                A fundraiser run benefiting a nonprofit focused on preserving and protecting Eldred Rock Lighthouse, seen in this photo, will be a virtual event this year. Runners can complete a course located on Pioneer Road on Douglas at any time April 12-18 and submit their results electronically.
Lighthouse-protecting nonprofit isn’t running out of fundraising ideas

With virtually every other event canceled or postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic,… Continue reading