Fairbanks Daily News-Miner – 8/29/2010

FAIRBANKS – David Dyer’s tank top and shorts were soaked with water and splattered with mud as he held off Chad Carroll to win the 5-kilometer race of Saturday’s Seekins Ford Golden Heart Trail Run.

At a water and refreshment table near the finish line, Dyer paused his competitive side and showed a touch of class and a sense of humor for his nearest competitor in the hilly, muddy and wet race at the Birch Hill Recreation Area.

Dyer handed Carroll a cup of water and said to him, “There’s not enough water on the course.”

Carroll appreciated the gesture, laughed at the joke and commended Dyer’s effort, which produced a winning time of 17 minutes, 18.4 seconds — exactly eight seconds ahead of Carroll.

Matthew Kotlarski finished three seconds behind Carroll at 17:29.7, while Vanya Rybkin placed fourth (19:50.6) and Fitzwilliam Taylor took fifth (20:06.1).

Carroll enjoyed the lead at the beginning of the race, pulling ahead of Dyer and 77 other participants on a turn at the top of the Ramp.

“I had the inside line,” Carroll said.

It was a brief lead for the assistant coach for the Lathrop High School cross country team, which later competed in the Interior Invitational at Birch Hill.

Dyer, the Eielson High School head cross country coach, was faster on the downhills while Carroll was a little stronger on the uphills.

“He’s got a pretty long stride, so he just pulled ahead,” Carroll said.

Dyer’s downhill strength and Carroll’s uphill tenacity was a reason for a 2-second difference between them at the halfway point of the race.

The weather and course conditions prompted Dyer to run conservatively for the first lap and increase his pace on the second 2.5K.

“I just made sure I got the feel of the wet course, and I knew I could try to run the second half faster than the first half,” Dyer said.

Carroll’s presence pushed him.

“Chad put on a big surge and had a lead on the big hill in the stadium,” Dyer said. “I just wanted to hang with him. I felt good and I tried to pick it up there, but the mud kind of extinguishes any ability to pick up a surge.”

However, the mud and obstacles — hay bales and a stack of spruce logs — didn’t extinguish the runners’ enjoyment. “Fun,” and “true cross country race,” were among the comments some runners made about the event.

Women’s winner Dayva Flaharty said the race reminded her of competing in the Bartlett Relays in Anchorage in 2003 during her senior year at West Valley High School.

“Their hay bales were almost three times as high, but this is fun,” said Flaharty, who finished in 21:46.4. “Steeplechase is fun.”

Flaharty, while outpacing women’s runner-up Maria Bray (22:17.2) and third-place finisher Dorli McWayne (23:25.7), devised strategies to maintain traction on the course, particularly on downhills.

“You kind of do the airplane,” she said. “You kind of like float, just balance and high knees, and try to find the grassy parts.”

“If you slide,” she said, “you’ve just got to ride with it.”

Anna Worden placed fourth among the women in 24:03.7 and Jane Lanford finished fifth (24:33.6).

In the 1K race for ages 7 and younger, Harrison Riggs posted the top time of 3:52.0. Max Donaldson clocked the fastest overall time of 10:06.3 in the 2.5K race for ages 8-14.

Age-class winners Saturday for the 1K were Riggs for the boys and Kira Ackerman for the girls. For the 2.5K, the girls age-class winners were Kendra Underwood (9-under), Briahna Gerlach (10-11) and Beza Sparkles (12-14) and for the boys, it was Sam Button (9-under), Ti Donaldson (10-11) and Max Donaldson (12-14).

The 5K women’s age-class winners were: Flaharty (18-29), Andrea Dubenezic (30-34), Bray (35-39), Tracey Martinson (40-44), Karen Nanseth (45-49), Erika Van Flein (50-54), McWayne (55-59), Francie Cork (60-64), Monte Jordan (65-69), Barbara Page (70-74) and Janette Hanneman (80-older).

The men’s age-class winners in the long race were Kotlarski (18-29), Eric Jensen (30-34), Dyer (35-39), Myron Dosch (40-44), Robert Weeden (45-49), Bruce Gard (50-54), Greg Finstad (55-59), Steve Bainbridge (60-64), Ron Smith (65-69), Jim Madonna (70-74) and Jack Townshend (80-older).