Alaska has a few Wilderness Races that rank among the hardest and most extreme. I find them all amazing in their own right, but the best thing about the Mt Marathon
Wilderness Race is that it is a photographer dream race…one that is fast, visible and accessible.
Of the wilderness races ~ McCarthy Pack Race, Fireweed 400 (a 4oo mile bike race), Alaskan Mountain Wilderness Classic (summer), Alaskan Mountain Wilderness Ski Classic (winter) just to name a few, Seward’s Mt Marathon Wilderness Race is one of the shorter ones, but not necessarily the easiest one ~ 5 kilometers and 3022 ft (921m). Racers scramble over cliffs, shale, rock-fields, brush, trees and mud, sometimes there are snowfields and waterfalls just to make the scramble more interesting, unpleasant and dangerous.
The race starts and finishes down town Seward, with the fastest racers (runners, climbers or hikers if you want to call them that) taking about 30-40min to get to half way, turn around and hoof it in about 10-15min to get to the finish line…the average speed up is about 2mph while it can increase to an incredible 12mph on the way down. The winner of men’s this years race hit the bottom of the chute at 38 minutes, record pace and set a new record of 41.48, the fastest women’s was 47.48 also a record, breaking a 25 yr old record set in 1990.
The junior’s race is a mixed one with boys and girls under 17yrs, and is shorter than the adults with it’s turn around at the start of the mountain scree was won in 27.39 this year.
Why would anyone want to risk the bloody scrapes, cuts, broken bones, traumatic head injuries (yes all of that has happened in the history of this race) is anyones guess but it is a highly sought after any entry (due to the city of Seward limiting numbers to decrease environmental impact).
Now I have hiked it, yes it was a hike for me, not being of the tenacious, mud slinging, injurious ilk, I slowly took over 2 hours to make it up to the top ridge taking photos along the way. The view is definitely breathtaking with Seward nestling at its foothills and the bay full of boats in the immediate distance but it is probably not one that these men and women glanced up and contemplated during the arduous route.
but when you see their faces a spark is driven into your mind, maybe I could do it…
maybe I could just hike and run when able, maybe I could train…maybe, if there is ever going to me a maybe, I had better contemplate a plan to apply for the lottery to be even allowed to enter first!
Please look at the gallery, there are many more amazing athletes, I continue to be in awe of them…esp the kids, although I have not posted any kids, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I am more than willing to see if I have your picture or your child’s one.