Anchorage high school runners broke from routine Wednesday at Russian Jack Springs Park, running a 3-kilometer flight race instead of the usual 5-K mass start.
"It's a little bit nicer, a little less congestion," said East's John Farr, who won the boys' top flight. "It's easier to lock onto people and chase 'em, 'cause you know exactly who's ahead of you and where everyone is."
Farr opened up a commanding lead over the final kilometer, finishing in 9 minutes, 52.6 seconds. West's Rachel Roelle used a late kick to win the girls' top flight in 11:25.4.
"I just kind of went out there and stayed with the ladies who started to lead the race and I stuck with them as long as I could and then made my move near the end," Roelle said.
East coach and race director Nathaniel Graham said there hadn't been a flight race in Anchorage in several years, and he thought adding it back to the schedule was a welcome change.
"A lot of us feel like 5-K after 5-K after 5-K winds up becoming a bit monotonous," he said.
In the usual 5-K (3.1-mile) races, all varsity runners pack the starting line and take off at the same time. Wednesday's 1.86-mile race divided everyone into flights, with the top two boys and girls from each school forming a flight, and the third and fourth-ranked boys and girls from each school forming the next flight, and so on.
Seven Cook Inlet Conference schools participated, with Service the exception. There were four varsity flights, two junior varsity flights and an open flight.
The open flight was first to attack the race layout on the Russian Jack Golf Course, with about 150 runners rumbling down the ninth fairway. Every 10 minutes, a new flight started a race, ending with the top flight. Boys and girls raced together in each wave, another twist from the usual procedure.
For runners outside the top flight, the experience of leading a pack was a new one. East's Morgan Flynn won the girls second flight in 11:33.7. In the usual mass starts, Flynn said she pushes herself hard in the beginning of the race to try and get out in front of the crowd, but usually tires and fades early as a result. With fewer runners to worry about, Flynn was able to run with a little more freedom, but still experience pressure.
"It was fun, but it was hard," she said. "With the sun, you could see the shadows of people pushing from behind."
Wednesday's Flight Race
Russian Jack Springs Park
Varsity flights (3-K)
Flight A -- 1) John Farr, East, 9:52.6; 2) David McPhetres, Chugiak, 9:58.0; 3) Eddie Seryozhenkov, South, 9:58.7; 4) Iain Perry, Dimond, 10:01.4; 5) Benjamin Hall, Eagle River, 10:02.8; 6) Larkin Lynch,West, 10:04.8; 7) Spencer Mitton, South, 10:05.1; 8) Matt Froehlich, Dimond, 10:12.9; 9) Peter Moma, West, 10:18.1; 10) Tim Sorensen, Chugiak, 10:21.4; 11) Thomas O'Harra, East, 10:25.4; 12) William Hail, Eagle River, 10:52.7.
Flight B -- 1) Chris Kveseth, Chugiak, 10:10.1; 2) Thomas Dolan, Bartlett, 10:12.2; 3) Derek Steele, South, 10:18.1; 4) Ben Froehlich, Dimond, 10:19.0; 5) Ty Jordan, Chugiak, 10:20.4.
Flight C -- 1) Roan Hall, Chugiak, 10:14.7; 2) Konnor Peterson, West, 10:18.9; 3) Eli Shayer, West, 10:28.0; 4) Matthew Falconer, Dimond, 10:36.0; 5) Luke Twenhafel, South, 10:36.3.
Flight D -- 1) Drini Redzeri, West, 10:19.2; 2) Curtis Sicks, West, 10:25.3; 3) Kerrick Eagle, Dimond, 10:40.5; 4) Tristan Heil, Dimond, 10:46.5; 5) Dylan Charnon, South, 10:46.9.
Flight A -- 1) Rachel Roelle, West, 11:25.4; 2) Grace Graham, East, 11:32.9; 3) Tsaina Mahlen, South, 11:34.3; 4) Hannah Stevens, Eagle River, 11:40.2; 5) Sierra Richardson, Eagle River, 11:40.2; 6) Sam Hartke, Chugiak, 11:51.6; 7) Kayle Blackmore, West, 11:56.6; 8) Darby Judd, Dimond, 12:10.7; 9) Acadia Graham, East, 12:17.3; 10) Madison Imig, Dimond, 12:41.2; 11) Hailey Sandefur, Eagle River, 12:52.8.
Flight B -- 1) Morgan Flynn, East, 11:33.7; 2) Lydian blanchet, West, 11:37.2; 3) Megan Fink, East, 11:48.5; 4) Katie Weddleton, West, 11;55.9; 5) Hanna Seidl, Dimond, 12:10.8.
Flight C -- 1) Camille Beaugard, West, 12:06.7; 2) Bailey Desaussure, Bartlett, 12:20.3; 3) Allison Abo, East, 12:29.3; 4) JoJo Fleischman, West, 12:29.7; 5) Anna Campbell, South, 12:31.9.
Flight D -- 1) Claire Walker, West, 12:13.7; 2) Madeline Boutet, West, 12:18.7; 3) Anna Darnell, South, 12:32.7; 4) Ana Jager, East, 12:35.7; 5) Tessa Heagy, Eagle River, 13:34.1.Gallery: Flight race
By JEREMY PETERS
Anchorage Daily News