Mount Marathon Race

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Coordinates: 60°6′40″N 149°28′34″W / 60.11111°N 149.47611°W / 60.11111; -149.47611

Runners shortly after the start of the race

The Mount Marathon Race is a mountain race that is run every Fourth of July in Seward, Alaska.


The race begins downtown, at Fourth and Adams, in front of the First National Bank Alaska, and ends a block south of where it began, at Fourth and Washington. The halfway point is a stone marker[1] atop Mount Marathon, 2974 feet (906 m) above sea level, and a mile and a half from the finish line. The total race course distance is about 3.1 miles (5 kilometers). Leading racers will typically reach the peak from the starting line in 33–40 minutes, and reach the finish line from the peak in 10–15 minutes. Average speed uphill is 2 mph. Average speed downhill is 12 mph. It is not uncommon for the racers who finish to cross the finish line injured or bleeding and covered in mud.

Due to an interest in limiting the environmental impact of the race, the entrants are limited to 350 men, 350 women, and 200 juniors. In 2012, the field was expanded to permit 400 entrants for the men's and women's races.[2] The slots are filled in the following order:

  • Veteran racers who have completed the prerequisite number of races
  • Prior year registered runners who have not completed the prerequisite number of races but have a waiver
  • Current year special invitation[3]

The remaining slots are filled up by a lottery. Previous winners of any prior year are allowed to enter until the morning of the race. Application fees for the 2012 race were $65 for adults and $25 for juniors.[4]


The first race was run sometime before 1915. Various dates have been proposed—1908, 1909, 1912—but there is no evidence to support any specific date. The challenge was to run from downtown, to the top of the mountain and back, in under an hour. Legend says that it all started out as a bar bet. He finished in one hour and twenty minutes. Since Seward is a port town, every arriving ship had its challenger who wanted to beat the one hour bet. This may have been how the race evolved.

Mt. Marathon was first run as an organized race in 1915.[5] The 2015 running was the 100th Mount Marathon Race. The Mount Marathon Race is one of a number of races believed to be the second oldest footrace in America.[6][7][8] The event was honored in February 2011 with an official induction into the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame.[9]

During the 2012 race, an Anchorage man, Michael LeMaitre, disappeared after last being seen by race officials approaching the summit. It was the first presumed fatality in the history of the race, which normally produces numerous injuries.[10]


  • 3022 ft.: We All Have A Mountain To Climb. A documentary by filmmakers Natalie Fedak and Max Romey depict the 2014 edition of this centenarian race and the personal stories of the athletes who compete in it.[11]


View of the mountain from Seward
  • The men's race record time of 41:26 was set in 2016 by David Norris, beating the previous record set by Kilian Jornet Burgada a year earlier by 20 seconds.[12]
  • The women's record was set by Emelie Forsberg in 2015 with a time of 47:48, breaking a 25-year-old record set by Nancy Pease in 1990 (50:30).[12]
  • 54 women finished the first-ever women’s race in 1985.[13]
  • The Junior Race, for runners 17 years and younger, run the main street and up to the halfway point on the mountain and back down. Once the runner turns 18, they must compete in either the men's race or the women's race. In 2014 Allison Ostrander won the Junior race outright (boys and girls).[14] Ostrander holds the girls' records for all age groups.[15]
  • Every year, a safety meeting is held at the Seward High School gymnasium where there is a video to watch, and those who have not entered the race can bid on a spot. Some of the bids go up and over $4500.


  1. ^ "Mount Marathon Race Trail Map"
  2. ^ Doyle Woody (January 4, 2012). "Changes will help more enter Mount Marathon race". Alaska Dispatch News. Archived from the original on January 21, 2015.
  3. ^ Seward Chamber of Commerce Mount Marathon Page
  4. ^ "Apply now for Mount Marathon races". Alaska Dispatch News. January 4, 2012. Archived from the original on January 21, 2015.
  5. ^ Geographic Names Information System feature detail report, "Marathon Mountain"
  6. ^ "Things To Do In Alaska, The Town Of Seward"
  7. ^ "Experience Colorado Springs at Pikes Peak"
  8. ^ "A Brief History of the Dipsea Race"
  9. ^ "October 11, 2010 Press Release". Archived from the original on February 23, 2013. Retrieved October 12, 2010.
  10. ^ Christopher Solomon (2013-02-13). "The Last Man Up". Runners World. Retrieved 2013-02-20.
  11. ^ "Landing". 3022ft. Retrieved 2016-09-15.
  12. ^ a b "Records » Overall & Age Group". Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  13. ^ Seward City News, "Seward’s 2007 Mount Marathon Race Now Accepting Applications" Archived 2007-03-12 at the Wayback Machine.
  14. ^ "Historical Race & Racer Results". Archived from the original on 2015-07-07.
  15. ^ "Records ~ Overall & Age Group". Archived from the original on 2015-06-12.

External links[edit]