Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - High temperatures and high vertical didn’t slow down Bozeman, Montana’s Dakota Jones, 30, in the Juneau Ridge Race 15-miler on Sunday in Juneau.
“It is one of the coolest races I know about,” Jones said. “That is why I wanted to come here is because the Juneau Ridge Race is this perfect mountain course. It’s really hard, it’s really steep, it’s very technical, but it’s in one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. I feel like it embodies most of what I love most about trail running. Plus the community, that’s the biggest part. It’s just a really great event.”
Jones finished in two hours 14 minutes and 59 seconds, breaking the two-year-old record set in the inaugural race in 2019 by Allan Spangler (32 at the time) of 2:18.36. There was no 2020 race due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The actual race itself was really tough,” Jones said. “I think I ran well and I felt pretty good. But I don’t know how to describe it. I felt like I was working really, really hard to do what I did. Some days it all clicks and you’re able to run really well and it feels easy almost. Today I feel like I definitely ran well, I mean, I won and I’m very happy with that but it felt like it took more mental effort than usual.”
With the win Jones earns an automatic bid to the July 4 Mt. Marathon run in Seward, an event he had already planned for. The automatic bid can also be used for next year.
Jones used his altitude training in Colorado and the hot weather there to his advantage, leading from the roughly two mile approach to the Mt. Juneau trailhead, through the two mile climb, along the three-mile ridge that reaches 4,000 feet at its highest point, down the snow glissades for another mile to a large swimming hole, another 1.25 miles to Perseverance trail, and back to the finish.
“I just naturally had some heat training that Juneau, and probably Alaska in general, just don’t normally get,” Jones said. “I was working really hard, feeling like pretty heavy legs and lactic acid, but I felt like I performed well.”
Jones was joined on the podium by second place runner Dylan Anthony, 29, of Juneau, in 2:19.08 and third place runner Zack Bursell, 28, also of Juneau, in 2:22.57.
Juneau’s Rachel Phelps, 36, was the fastest female runner, placing 12th overall in 2:57.07.
“It was gorgeous weather and a lot of fun people out there,” Phelps said. “Great support, running into fun volunteers out there along the ridge. Conditions were great and fast.”
Phelps said the hardest part of the race was getting up Mt. Juneau.
“Go my own pace,” she said on combating the roughly two-mile ascent. “Don’t blow up by the top. I hiked mostly up Juneau, jogged hiked most of the ridge and ran out the snow slide and out Granite Basin, that was all running.”
Phelps also broke her 2019 race record of 3:01.40 as did second place female Abby Jahn, 28, also of Juneau, who finished 13th overall in 2:58.00.
Phelps and Jahn were joined on the podium by third place runner Chloe Papier, 26, of Juneau, who placed 24th overall in 3:11.48.
The overall comment from racers was cramping due to the heat.
“The most difficult part about the race was cramping, the heat, and trying to keep down fluids,” Juneau’s Owen Hatcher, 29, said. “Just trying to stay on top of that. Cramping. I think everyone cramped the entire day.”
Aside from the heat, Hatcher, who has the Kesugi Ridge Traverse 50K in August, said the climb is the main obstacle.
“Controlling yourself on the climb,” he said. “I think that is the hardest part. You’re excited and just want to go fast and then you realize that just because you are done with the climb you still have a lot more climbing on top of the ridge you don’t really think about.”
Caleb Conlin, 23, from Blue Ash, Ohio came into the race with a slight injury and compounded it on the climb but was in the middle of the pack half-way across the ridge. Although the heat added to his falling back and becoming the final finisher Conlin was adamant about the outing.
“This is the most beautiful place I have been,” he said, gesturing across the ridges to mountains on all sides. “Just look at that!”
The youngest racer was Linnea Lentfer, 17, of Gustavus, Alaska, who got hooked on mountain running through the local Lynn Canal Running Camp and high school cross country. She will be on a club running team at Carlton College in Minnesota next Fall.
“And I got into mountain adventures a lot more and discovered that was what I really loved about running,” Lentfer said.
Lentfer was the sixth fastest female runner and 28th overall with a time of 3:22.38. She finished just behind Tucson, Arizona runner Brianna Grigsby, 34, who hit 3:20.58 and has competed in 36 mountain and ultramarathon races since 2016.
Lentfer said she wasn’t intimidated to be racing against more experienced, and some professional, outdoor enthusiasts.
“I just felt really lucky to have that opportunity to be on the same course as them,” she said. “I was pretty fatigued going up Mt. Juneau and on the beginning of the ridge and kind of behind the pace I wanted to be. That was definitely the hardest part. I got a second gear, I really love glissading and downhill technical running, so coming down off the ridge was really fun and gave me a little bit of energy. Then at the flat at the bottom of Granite Basin I was a little tired but I got revived at the aid station. I got another second wind for the downhill out of Granite Creek. By Perseverance and the Flume I was pretty exhausted but I was in a pack with three or four other women and we were leapfrogging and pushing each other which was pretty key for that last stretch.”
Aid station number three, run by the Morley family, was the final checkpoint.
Finn Morley, 18, fresh off a track and field season at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé placed sixth in 2:42.09.
Aid station three featured the swimming hole where runners could jump into snow-fed waters to refresh and compete for the “Best Splash Award.”
That honor went to Juneau’s Natalie Wade, 25, who placed 65th overall with a time of 4:38.17.
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Results (Place, Name, City, Age, Gender, Time):
1. Dakota Jones, Boseman MT, 30, M, 2:14.59; 2. Dylan Anthony, Juneau AK, 29, M, 2:19.08; 3. Zack Bursell, JNU, 28, M, 2:22.57; 4. Owen Hatcher, JNU, 29, M, 2:33.30; 5. Galen Johnston, Anchorage AK, 31, M, 2:37.44; 6. Finn Morley, JNU, 18, M, 2:42.09; 7. Ben Muse, Douglas AK, 39, M, 2:46.25; 8. Ryan Beckett, ANCH, 36, M, 2:48.06; 9. Charlie Waters, JNU, 35, M, 2:49.26; 10. David Norris, JNU, 28, M, 2:55.01; 11. Mike Schroeder, ANCH, 37, M, 2:55.28; 12. Rachel Phelps, JNU, 36, F, 2:57.07; 13. Abby Jahn, JNU, 28, F, 2:58.00; 14. Nolan Campbell, JNU, 19, M, 3:01.59; 15. Alex Andrews, JNU, 52, M, 3:02.42; 16. Franz Mueter, JNU, 55, M, 3:04.20; 17. John Nagel, JNU, 60, M, 3:05.39; 18. Charles Reincke, Sausalito CA, 39, M, 3:06.35; 19. Christopher Marquis, JNU, 33, M, 3:07.28; 20. Justin Dorn, JNU, 38, M, 3:08.10; 21. Alex Burkhart, JNU, 28, M, 3:08.38; 22. Josh Allely, ANCH, 42, M, 3:10.45; 23. Scott Baker, Springfield OR, 51, M, 3:11.08; 24. Chloe Papier, JNU, 26, F, 3:11.48; 25. Boykin Lucas, JNU, 34, M, 3:17.50; 26. Laura Maruhashi, JNU31, F, 3:19.10; 27. Brianna Grigsby, Tucson AZ, 34, F, 3:20.58; 28. Linnea Lentfer, Gustavus AK, 17, F, 3:22.38; 29. Jessica Cobley, JNU, 31, F, 3:22.49; 30. Allison Barnwell, Seward AK, 29, F, 3:22.50; 31. Katherine Sind, ANCH, 32, F, 3:23.06; 32. Hank Lentfer, JNU, 54, M, 3:24.07; 33. Brandon Ivanowicz, JNU, 39, M, 3:25.52; 34. Steve Ricci, JNU, 40, M, 3:30.27; 35. Travis Oen, ANCH, 26, M, 3:31.12; 36. Caitlyn Fleischman, Antigo WI, 27, F, 3:31.22; 37. Dave Pusich, JNU, 55, M, 3:34.13; 38. Peter Hulson, JNU, 42, M, 3:36.12; 39. Quinn Tracy, JNU, 41, M, 3:39.55; 40. Tasha Folsom, Sitka AK, 37, F, 3:40.00; 41. Addison Field, JNU, 48, M, 3:40.57; 42. Aaron Morrison, JNU, 45, M, 3:41.32; 43. Chelsea Finch, JNU, 35, F, 3:44.22; 44. Anna Mattox, JNU, 27, F, 3:46.19; 45. Micah Hahn, ANCH, 36, F, 3:47.05; 46. Lily Cohen, JNU, 32, F, 3:47.49; 47. Craig Murdoch, GUST, 39, M, 3:49.07; 48. Samuel Muse, DGLS, 35, M, 3:49.13; 49. Sarah Schmitke, Libertyville IL, 26, F, 3:49.24; 50. Kamie Miller, Eagle River AK, 42, F, 3:49.50; 51. Laurą Tuttle, ANCH, 32, F, 3:53.32; 52. David Popiel, ANCH, 40, M, 3:55.58; 53. Jason Brooks, JNU, 35, M, 3:56.59; 54. Dylan Krueger, JNU, 28, M, 4:07.07; 55. Jonathan Felis, JNU, 40, M, 4:10.46; 56. Diana Baetscher, JNU, 34, F, 4:10.48; 57. Melissa Wechter, JNU, 34, F, 4:12.27; 58. Hillary Landers, DGLS, 32, F, 4:18.00; 59. Craig Millard, DGLS, 34, M, 4:21.22; 60. Kira Kamrud, Big Sky MT, 26, F, 4:21.35; 61. James Gallanos, Evergreen CO, 57, M, 4:24.51; 62. Timothy Burman, JNU, 30, M, 4:36.05; 63. Nate Prewitt, Seattle WA, 31, M, 4:36.35; 64. Brandon Shaw, JNU, 42, M, 4:37.40; 65. Natalie Wade, JNU, 25, F, 4:38.17; 66. Alli Rosen, JNU, 35, F, 4:38.33; 67. Mindy Shaw, JNU, 40, F, 4:38.38; 68. Diana Redwood, ANCH, 43, F, 4:42.40; 69. Benjamin Mayer, Bellvue CO, 36, M, 4:46.52; 70. Michael Kenny, JNU, 36, M, 4:47.04; 71. Christy Gentemann, JNU, 32, F, 4:51.34; 72. Steve Feltz, West Des Moines IA, 56, M, 4:55.04; 73. Amanda Lindsey, Cincinnati OH, 40, F, 4:55.09; 74. Ray Dwyer, JNU, 60, M, 5:04.38; 75. Adam Gottschalk, JNU, 33, M, 5:06.54; 76. Becky Bohrer, JNU, 43, F, 5:07.52; 77. Holly Handler, JNU, 47, F, 5:07.52; 78. Shea Kohman, ANCH, 36, F, 31, 5:10.11; 79. Kyle Kohman, ANCH, 36, M, 5:10.11; 80. Justine Wagner, JNU, 26, F, 5:11.28; 81. Sarah Brister, SIT, 33, F, 5:19.00; 82. Max Rosen, JNU, 33, M, 5:20.47; 83. Brian Klesmith, 34, M, 5:25.00; 84. Jared Jablonka, Columbus OH, 38, M, 5:47.54; 85. Caleb Conlin, Blue Ash OH, 23, M, 6:03.51.
Two runners did not finish and 14 runners did not start.