Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Juneau triathlete Jodie Totten nearly caused the annual Aukeman sprint triathlon community to consider changing its name, taking an early lead in the 750-meter swim, maintaining a strong 19K bike and 5K run portion and crossing the finishing line first in the 11th annual event on Saturday with a time of one hour 12 minutes and three seconds.
Due to COVID precautions, the race followed a staggered start from the University of Alaska Southeast’s dock into Auke Lake and Scott Gende, who crossed the line 11 seconds after Totten, actually had the winning time of 1:11:52.
“It is so great to have a race like this, so thanks to the Aukeman organizing committee,” Totten, 36, said. “And a big thank you to Jamie Bursell for organizing the training camp every year and helping to build such an awesome triathlon community, because having such a great community of people that train for this and enjoy doing triathlon all year round is what really makes this a really fun day.”
It was a really fun day for Gende, 51, who was the 17th racer into the water and confirmed what the hardest part of the event would be for most triathletes.
“Trying to catch Jodie,” Gende said. “And then watching faster guys like Justin (Dorn) break down on the bike and I passed them by when they should be beating me. But it’s fun. We all are friends. We all train together. It’s just a good time to see everyone racing and come back together. Next year, I will work more on sprint distances. We have been training for IRONMAN Arizona in the fall so we have been focused on endurance. We have been doing way less track work and more long runs, long swims, long bikes so probably shorter distance and higher intensity.”
Totten was third into the water for the start that featured 10-second intervals between triathletes, and she was the first out of Auke Lake. She had the fastest swim leg in 10 minutes 54 seconds.
Totten kept that position on the brief jog to the bike staging area and had the fastest transition time in 3:22.
The hardest part of her race was after the gear change.
“Getting on my bike,” Totten said. “I had some shoe issues getting on my bike. But I was trying to stay ahead of Justin (Dorn). I knew he was chasing me the whole bike ride.”
Dorn, 38, was one of the race favorites. He was also using the Aukeman as a training event for a September half-IRONMAN in Arizona.
Dorn came out of the water in fourth position and had the second-fastest first transition, eight seconds slower than Totten.
“The swim was great.,” Dorn said. “Water temperature was great. The course was really nice, the buoys were big and easy to see. It was gorgeous.”
Once on his bike, Dorn began a tenacious pace to the Mendenhall Glacier round-a-bout and back until two flat tires put his day on ice just short of the second transition, a segment the Juneau mountain runner is proficient at.
“I made it probably a couple miles from transitioning on to the run,” Dorn said. “This was kind of a training run for me but, it’s okay. It was still a beautiful day.”
The fastest bike portion would belong to third place finisher Steve Ricci, 40. Ricci pedaled a 29:42 and finished with an overall time of 1:12:20. Trevor Mackey, 21, had the fastest bike-to-run transition with 19 seconds and placed 58th in 1:49:50.
“It was a really fun race,” Ricci said. “It was a great day. Warm water and just really great to have everyone from town out. Yeah, a good turn out, that is the best part.”
Ricci was 13th into the water and made up positions after the swim.
“Mostly on the bike, I am a pretty slow swimmer,” he said. “And then I was able to keep up on the run. That is always the hardest part, that transition. I was lucky enough to have somebody pretty fast behind me so it pushed me right along. I didn’t look over my shoulder until the last bit. I could hear him.”
Triathlete finishers were greeted by cowbells and cheers.
Jamie Bursell, 58, who trains triathletes in her High Cadence Triathlon Training camp and had 20 trainees in the event, placed 12th overall in 1:22:08.
“I thought the race went off really well,” Bursell said. “Given the COVID restrictions, they did a great job of putting on an event where everyone could be safe and come together for a competition. It was so wonderful to see everyone together again. There were so many smiles and lots of joy. I really love the camaraderie among the athletes and seeing people push themselves.”
One of her trainees, Bethany Gollin, 28, finished fourth overall in 1:16:17 and had the fastest run portion along the Auke Lake Trail to Goat Hill and back in 22:17.
“My swim time is not the fastest so I started pretty far back,” Gollin said. “So I was really surprised when I saw the results. A shout out to Jamie and her camp. That was basically my only prep and it was really good to feel really comfortable during the race.”
Greg Albrecht and Annie Albrecht, both 37, sprinted together to the finish and placed due to the staggered start in times of 1:23:32 for 18th and 1:27:51 for 27th, respectively, and shared a celebratory kiss before the cheering subsided.
“We’re on the same team,” Greg Albrecht said. “We’re married for life.”
When asked who won the race: “Well, I had a five minute head start so Greg won,” Annie Albrecht said. “I told him that if he caught up to me I wanted him to run with me, so I wouldn’t feel too defeated.”
Added Greg Albrecht: “I like to run with her. I don’t like to run on my own very much.”
They have found the joy of doing a triathlon together.
“Well, I get really nervous,” Annie Albrecht said. “So it is nice to have… Greg doesn’t get nervous at all. So it is kind of nice to have this calm support.”
They also have different training regimes.
“Greg didn’t train,” Annie said.
“So training was pretty easy,” Greg added.
Annie has three triathlon support group members at home: Eliza, 10, Oliver, 7, and Matthew, 4.
“The hardest part of my training was finding time,” she said.
Greg’s hardest training regime was borrowing a bike before the race due to a flat tire on his. The new bike was an upgrade.
“It was a really speedy bike, too,” he said. “So it was kind of fortuitous that I got a flat tire.”
The youngest triathlete, Gwen Lockwood, 17, also had a sign, but it was a more numerical one. Her bib number 157 crossed the finish in 57th place with a time of 1:57:57. (This was a staggered finish time shown on the race clock; she was faster with 1:48:37).
“Not sure if this is some sort of sign but I love how it’s all adding up like that,” Lockwood said. “This was my first triathlon. I’ve participated in relays before and my parents have been involving me in the Aukeman culture for a huge portion of my life but I’ve never finished the entire thing. I am super glad that I fully committed this year and checked this off my bucket list. It definitely gave me a huge feeling of accomplishment and I was very proud of myself.”
Lockwood, a member of the Thunder Mountain High School cross-country and track teams, said she isn’t qualified to give advice.
“Just go for it,” she said. “What’s the worst that can happen? I barely trained for this. I think I did one bike and one-and-a-half swims, and I did it!”
One of the oldest participants, David Morris, 62, was in his inaugural event.
“This is my first triathlon and my goal was three hours,” Morris said.
Morris said he never doubted himself.
“I am a lifeguard so I can do the swim,” he said. “I was a little slower than I wanted to be. I did the course three times, on the course, just to make sure I was good. My last time was three hours, and this was 2:30 so I’m happy with that. I will definitely do this again next year.”
The final triathlete to cross the line came in to a basically deserted staging area.
“I have got to finish,” Ericka Lee, 37, exclaimed on her walk/run portion. “Because my kids are watching. I need to say that I completed it.”
There are a variety of reasons for being a triathlete and Lee’s time of 3:44:59 was as inspiring as Totten’s over two-and-a-half hours earlier.
Said Lee, “I gained about 20 pounds during COVID and I said, ‘I have got to get this weight off.’ I haven’t lost one pound but I am stronger and this has been a really great experience. I am doing something I never thought I would ever, ever, ever do.”
In a show of Aukeman sportsmanship Lee was joined on her final run portion by runner-up Totten, Aukeman board member Kimberly Campbell, 43, who finished 15th overall in 1:22:42, and a group of supporters.
“Jamie Bursell has a camp that I didn’t take but I probably should have taken,” Lee said. “So if you want to do it, go find that training camp, or just go do it. Just try and you might get somewhere. Just try it. I just learned to swim. So that swim was pretty brutal for me. But the ladies were right there encouraging me, saying, ‘Just keep going, one buoy at a time, one buoy at a time and you will get there.’ And I got to see the glacier, it was gorgeous.”
And she got a beautiful walk in the woods with friends.
“Not a bad day,” Lee said.
FEMALE RESULTS (name, overall time)
Jodie Totten 1:12:03, Bethany Gollin 1:16:17, Kristin Riall 1:17:28, Jamie Bursell 1:22:08, Kimberly Campbell 1:22:42, Alida Bus 1:26:11, Alisha Falberg 1:27:23, Annie Albrecht 1:27:51, Meredith Gillman 1:28:10, Melanie L White 1:28:39, Cathy Tide 1:29:01, Hannah Bailey 1:29:32, Maren Balke 1:29:38, Christine Loverink 1:31:12, Joscelyn Brownlee 1:31:31, Jennifer Watson 1:31:45, April Rezendes 1:34:31, Moira Meek 1:34:46, Sara Boyd 1:36:25, Katie Kowalchuk 1:37:27, Jenevieve Clauss 1:38:11, KD Roope 1:39:43, Jamie Greendyk 1:40:46, Christina Hotka 1:42:07, Jennifer Mannix 1:45:06, Julie Thatcher 1:45:35, Gwen Lockwood 1:48:37, Marja Miller 1:50:35, Monica Southworth 1:51:26, Lisa Eagan Lagerquist 1:54:01, Theresa Svancara 2:02:13, Elena Grotha 2:07:29, Ericka Lee 3:44:59.
MALE RESULTS (name, overall time)
Scott Gende 1:11:52, Steve Ricci 1:12:20, Jim Ustasiewsk 1:16:38, Brian McGuire 1:17:23, Matthew Rombach 1:17:29, Josh Dean 1:18:05, Mark Neidhold 1:20:34, Abe Levy 1:21:38, Austyn Schmidt 1:22:20, Scott McCann 1:22:28, Jim Grammel 1:23:33, Daniel Strong 1:23:38, Greg Albrecht 1:24:32, Nolan Campbell 1:24:37, Eric Carter 1:25:41, Peter Hulson 1:25:54, Jim Calvin 1:26:03, Jeffrey Boman 1:26:04, Andrew Klausner 1:26:40, Steve Parker 1:28:46, Jeff Sauer 1:28:52, Kollin Monahan 1:29:08, John King 1:29:18, Todd Atwood 1:32:20, Jeff Rogers 1:32:54, Mike Torba 1:33:00, Greg Lockwood 1:34:37, Will Race 1:39:02, Clayton Edwards 1:40:01, Zack Wrzeszcz 1:40:23, Trevor Mackey 1:49:50, David Morris 2:22:40, Justin Dorn DNF.
Complete Results at aukemantri.com.
Above - Annie and Greg Albrecht embrace after crossing the finish line together in the Aukeman sprint course triathlon on Saturday at the University of Alaska Southeast. (Klas Stolpe)