FAIRBANKS — Mikko Sayre hadn’t run in the Annual Independence Day Run since he was in middle school. The former West Valley cross country runner and current Western Washington cycling club team member return to the 5-kilometer race on Friday morning at Pioneer Park and won.

The 19-year-old completed the 5K course in 17 minutes, 54 seconds, over a minute faster than the second place finisher.

“The first mile I took pretty slow, about 20 seconds slower then the rest of my miles I think,” Sayre said. “In the back stretch, I was able to pick it up a little bit and gradually pulled away.”

The proceeds from the race, which is in its 29th year, benefit the West Valley cross country team. The course, which was originally supposed to follow part of the bike path around the Carlson Center, had to be altered because of flooding from the recent rains.

Tommy Dahill finished second in 18:58 followed by Andrew Bishop, who won the 22nd Mosquito Meander on June 15, in third at 19:23.

“At the turn around he (Sayre) wasn’t too far ahead but he put some serious distance between the turnaround and here (finish line),” Dahill said. “He was cooking. I think he took a full 30 seconds out of me in that last stretch.”

Melissa Lewis was the first woman to cross the finish line, finishing fifth overall in 20:16. Anna Worden took second among the women in 21:41 with Mishelle Nace finishing third in 22:25. Aniya Mosley, 9, finished third among women in 23:04.

Being a former Wolfpack was one of the reasons that Sayre decided to race on the Fourth of July. It also helps him stay in shape for cycling season.

“Most of the time the races are for fun. I like to get out, I like to be competitive,” Sayre said. “It’s also good training because working hard is great for training.”

While he enjoys running on roads now, Sayre wasn’t always used to running on road courses. During his high school career, Sayre ran mostly on trails but has come to enjoy road running since going to school in Bellingham, Washington.

“There’s a lot of roads down there so I’ve been running on the road a lot more. I’m able to not have affects, like shin splints, because I’ve gotten used to it,” Sayre said. “It was good to be able to do that now today without any issues.”

Dahill also enjoys racing on roads now.

“I tend to trip sometimes when I’m racing on trails. I like racing on flat and roads,” Dahill said.

Sayre still runs while he is in Bellingham for school, just not competitively.

Sayre and Dahill, 48, had different feelings about it being warm during the race.

“I love the heat. I could take it up to 100, 110, iIwould love it,” Dahill said. “I’m like 30 degrees off of everyone else.”

“It wasn’t too bad but you could definitely feel it out there, especially in the sunshine,” Sayre said.

Sayre, Dahill and the rest of the leaders weren’t separated by much as they made their way by the Carlson Center.

“I tried consciously not to go too fast because the guy that was third (Bishop), he beat me a couple weeks ago at the Mosquito Meander pretty well,” Dahill said. “And then by the Carlson Center we kind of split apart and then I just tried to follow the leaders, try and catch him in my sights.”

Complete results of the race can be found on Scoreboard on Page B2.

Contact sports reporter Tim O’Donnell at 459-7583. Follow him on Twitter: