It was a sunny, blistering hot day at Seward July 4 during the 91st running of the Mt. Marathon Race.
No records were set, yet respectable times were recorded by many runners, including many from the Eagle River-Chugiak area.
About 1,000 runners were entered in this year’s 4th of July iconic event and all total, 75 were from Eagle River, 18 from Chugiak and two from JBER.
Junior’s Races: This year’s top finisher in the Boy’s Junior Division, which requires runners to reach the mountain’s half-way point and back, was Chugiak’s Michael Connelly, 16. Connelly clocked in at 26 minutes, 56 seconds. He came in 6th last year.
Chugiak High student Daniel Bausch finished fourth; Eagle River’s Michael Earnhart was seventh; Eagle River’s Jacob Lestina was eighth; Eagle River’s Nick Carl (whose father “Storm” also ran) was 11th and Eagle River’s Max Beiergrohslein was 18th.
In the junior girls race, Chugiak’s Adrianna Proffitt was fourth, finishing less than two minutes behind winner Kendall Kramer of Fairbanks, whose time was 34:05.
Men’s Race: Chugiak’s Kenny Brewer, a veteran runner, finished in ninth place, five minutes behind winner David Norris of Anchorage, who set a time of 42:13. Norris also won the race last year. Eagle River’s Chris Kirk was 22nd, Eagle River’s Craig Taylor was 24th and Eagle River’s Casey Volk crossed the finish line in 29th position.
Women’s Race: Annie Connelly of Chugiak — Michael’s older sister — recorded a personal best time of 59 minutes, 43 seconds , breaking the 60-minute barrier. Topping all women this year was Jessica Yeaton, of Australia, with a time of 51:30.
Eagle River’s Kinsey Loan also set a personal best by finishing 14th in 1:00:26, ahead of her mother Sheryl.
Also in the top 20 was Chugiak High grad Lauren Fritz of Anchorage in 20th.
A surprise in this year’s event was Allie Ostrander’s last-minute decision to sit out the race. Ostrander is a NCAA running champion and winner of the 2017 Mt. Marathon Race. She was at the mountain’s summit this year, however, to watch the men’s race. When asked by this reporter why she was not running, she replied: “My running schedule this year has been so hectic that I haven’t had time to train on Mt. Marathon.”
In the mountain’s intense heat that former race champion Holly Brooks described as a “convection oven,” runners expressed their appreciation for spectators offering water along the route.
“It was great to receive some water at the halfway point and at the top,” commented multi-year runner Eric “Storm” Carl. “The heat was really something!”
Frank E. Baker has been an Alaska resident since 1946 and is currently a freelance writer who lives in Eagle River with his wife Rebakah, a retired elementary school teacher.