After taking a year off because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the 93rd Mount Marathon Race is a go. The race will take place Wednesday, July 7 in Seward, Alaska. Normally the event is on July 4, but was moved this year to reduce the number of people in downtown Seward.
The course is a 1.5 mile climb up, and down that shale-slippery Mount Marathon, which attracts runners from around the country, although mostly from Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula.
Mike Heatwole of Anchorage has run it 21 times, and will be running it again on Wednesday. He describes it as a race that has four parts: The first part is a run to the base of the mountain, which is about a half-mile uphill on a normal grade. Then it’s a mile to the top of the mountain, the first section being a scramble trough through the trees on steep cliff-like conditions.
“The downhill is one of the most unique aspects of the race. The shale allows you to open it up [as a controlled fall], if you dare. Then you hit the road again and run to the finish. You put all that pressure going uphill then all the pressure downhill, and then hit the road … and your legs just protest. They can only take so much,” he said.
For the amateur athlete, the reward is the experience of the cheers of the crowd, which is is exhilarating.
This year’s Covid protocols has 50 runners released from the starting line every 2 minutes.
Heatwole’s son will be running again in the youth boys division and his daughter will be running again; this will be her first race in the adult women’s division. For the Heatwole’s, this is a family affair.
The race starts at 8:30 am with the youth division.