Racers back on Mount Marathon

Jul 7, 2021

Hannah Lefleur of Seward took first place in the women's race Wednesday afternoon. Lefleur also won the race in 2019.
Credit Elizabeth Earl/KDLL

This article has been updated to include all race results.

After a year of no crowds and few in-person athletics, the excitement was evident in Seward today at the annual Mount Marathon race. Even persistent showers couldn’t dampen the spirits around town.

The race, organized by the Mount Marathon Race Committee and the Seward Chamber of Commerce, attracts competitive mountain runners from all over the state and country. Nicknamed “the world’s hardest 5K,” it sends runners from downtown Seward straight up Mount Marathon, where they tag the 3,022-foot peak and then run back downhill to the finish.

For the women, Hannah Lefleur of Seward took first place with a finishing time of 51 minutes and 24 seconds. She was followed by Ruby Lindquist with 51 minutes and 38 seconds and Christy Marvin with 52 minutes and 21 seconds.

For the men, David Norris took first with a time of 43 minutes and 27 seconds. Sam Hendry came in second with 46 minutes.

There was also a junior race earlier today, which sent kids up to a mountain midpoint. 

Ali Papillon of Talkeetna took first place for the junior boys, with a finishing time of 28 minutes and 16 seconds. Coby Marvin of Palmer took second place for the boys with 28 minutes and 39 seconds, but broke the age record for the 12-14 year old bracket.

Lucy Young of Anchorage took first for the girls with a finishing time of 33 minutes and 55 seconds. Jayna Boonstra of Kenai took second with 36 minutes and 29 seconds.

Anchorage's Lucy Young won the girls' race Wednesday morning, with a time of 33 minutes and 55 seconds.
Credit Elizabeth Earl/KDLL

While going up is blisteringly difficult, going down can be its own challenge among the slick rocks, mud and steep grade.

But people come back over and over again, if they can. Despite how difficult it is, even getting to register for the race is pretty long odds ― the race committee holds a lottery for the few spaces every year.

Last year was a disappointment for many racers, as the committee decided to cancel the 2020 race because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Race Director Matias Saari said the committee just transferred the 2020 roster to this year, rather than hosting a new lottery. 

The race has been held annually without fail for nearly 80 years. The last cancellation before 2020 was in 1942, in the middle of World War II.

But this year’s race wasn’t completely back to normal, either. It was held on a Wednesday, three days after the Fourth of July. The race is almost always run on the Fourth, pairing with Seward’s big holiday celebration and fireworks. 

Check back tomorrow for interviews and more from the race.