Kids will be kids.
This is particularly true when last year's kids repeat their accomplishments a year later, as was the case with Leah Besh of Anchorage and Rory Egelus of Palmer.
Sixteen-year-old Egelus completed the mile-and-three-quarters trip halfway up Mount Marathon on Friday to win his second junior race in a time of 27 minutes, 14 seconds. He shaved 59 seconds off his 2002 time.
Besh crossed the finish line in a time of 35:45, just 23 seconds slower than her 35:22 time from her win a year before. She said the sweltering heat in the trees and on the bare rock face above tree line took its toll on everyone running.
"The weather was so hot," she said. "The toughest part was running for the shade. There was absolutely no breeze."
Egelus said the still air was a marked change from many other races he had run where runners emerging from the trees were greeted by a refreshing rush of air blowing up from Resurrection Bay.
"Up top it was a huge heat wave," he said. "I couldn't feel any wind. I'm glad I went topless."
Palmer's John Hundley finished second for the boys in a time of 31:23. The 16-year-old said he probably slowed himself down by taking the path of least resistance or more appropriately, least risk on the return down the hill, rather than following Egelus over the rocky middle portion that leads directly to the chute.
"He went the faster route," Hundley said. "I'm too cautious for that. It probably doesn't help being cautious."
Seward twins Denali and Rubye Foldager, daughters of 1985 women's champ Patti Foldager, placed second and third, respectively, with times of 40:25 and 40:34. The 13-year-old pair improved over their third- and sixth-place finishes from last year, and stayed with one another through the entire race, exchanging banter. But each offered different opinions on whether this strategy worked.
"She kept saying we were going too fast," Rubye said of her sister. "I told her, 'Shut up. That's gonna slow me down.'"
Denali passed Rubye on the street before reaching the foot of the mountain, but Rubye quickly regained ground as they started up the mountain.
"We were just trying to keep up with Leah," Denali said.
Denali jumped in front of her sister at the start of the gully leading to the chute, and she said she passed five boys as well, with Rubye hot on her tail to the finish line.
Kenai's Michael Kent and Dustin Reid completed the race together. In his fifth year, the 17-year-old Kent said he was disappointed with his 38th-place performance.
"It didn't go as well as I'd planned. I wasn't as good as last year," he said, when he finished one place higher. "I thought I'd trained hard.
"But running up to the hill, that's what gets me. The trail itself I can do."
He will only run in the junior race one more year, but held out hope that his brother Reid, 14, would fare better with more opportunities at the mountain. Finishing with a time of 45:36, Kent said Reid was on track to reach the level of Egelus and 2001 winner Mark Johnson.
"He's got three more years to catch up to these guys," Kent said. "He'll make it if he keeps training and working hard."
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