Mount Marathon News

Runner Spotlights Presented by Altra

Founder of Altra, ultrarunner, and fly fisherman extraordinaire

Alaska was a place I’d wanted to visit since I was young. My favorite book as a child was Where the Wild Things Are…so no surprise I was drawn to Alaska with its rugged mountains, expansive views, eclectic residents and wild animals galore. Obsessed with fishing, running, and outdoor adventure throughout my life, I packed up my car and drove to Seward, Alaska early May 2003 to work for the summer.  Within days I was in love!  As an avid runner, everyone asked me if I was going to run Mt Marathon.  I didn’t know what it was but decided to check out the course.  Talk about a shock to the system!  And then I watched it occur in glorious fashion on July 4th 2003 as well as 2004.  I knew that I had to run this race. Having done hundreds of races in 10 states and 9 countries over the last 20 years, I’ve never seen anything like it before or since! 

And finally, after 15 years of dreaming, I got into my first Mt Marathon.  Not only as a runner but the presenting sponsor equipped with my own shoe company started 7 years earlier in my basement and a shoe that was built to spec for such a course, the Altra King MT.  The race was everything I dreamt it to be!  The lung sucking uphill, the quad busting downhill, and a bloody fall to boot, I finished with a smile on my face.  Ya, I’ll be back in 2019 and beyond.  Like a fish, hooked for life to Alaska, Seward, and Mt Marathon.

Altra Elite Team

Who wouldn’t want to run Mount Marathon? Mount Marathon brings out all the emotions in one short but extremely steep and technical mountain race. It brings a sense of excitement, fear, love for the mountains, toughness, pain, freedom, and much more. It is my kind of race! I have always had a love for the mountains and have excelled in mountain races. I have run and won numerous VK mountain races around the world and also won a World Championship at the 2016 World Mountain Running Championships in Bulgaria with the USA national team placing 4th individually. This is how I got my start with ultra and mountain running. My first trail race was, in fact, the US Mountain Running Championships at Loon Mountain Race in New Hampshire in 2016 where I qualified for the US mountain running team! Not only do I have a lot of connections with mountain running but I have a lot of connections in Alaska! My wife and I have family that have lived in Wasilla, Alaska for many years. We have made trips to Alaska to visit them, run, and fish over the years. We fell in love with Alaska and is our favorite place to travel in the entire world! Not only do we love the mountains and wilderness of Alaska but we really enjoy the people!

Mount Marathon will be my second race in Alaska after running and winning the 2015 Anchorage Mayor’s Half Marathon in my road running days. I hope to have a similar result at Mount Marathon this year, but also have mad respect for the local athletes that dominate this race every year and of course a lot of respect for the mountain! I hope to use my climbing ability to make it to the top in a fast time and then hold on for dear life for the ride down on some of the most technical terrain that I have ever experienced! It will be a fun but challenging race and a dream come true! I plan on taking it all in and enjoying the experience with my shirt off at the start and finish line! See you soon Alaska! 

Altra employee and ultrarunner

My history with Mount Marathon goes back to 2010. Following my junior year of college, I spent a summer working in Homer, AK. For July 4th some fellow coworkers and I made the trip to Seward and I was immediately captivated by Mount Marathon. This race was like nothing I had ever experienced—from the crowded streets of town to the rugged, snowy, rocky mountainside it was such an incredible feat of human strength and grit. First place finished with seemingly barely a scratch, then second place (not far behind) rolled in bloodied, battered and passing out from exhaustion. I was hooked. “sign me up!” I decided I would return in 2011 and complete this race. I waited 7 years before my name was drawn in the lottery! Although my dream of running this iconic race was on hold, my love for Alaska grew, I returned the next 3 summers to work in this beautiful state, each time falling deeper in love with the beautiful land and community.

When I was finally chosen in the Mount Marathon lottery in 2017 the experience truly was a dream. I pushed hard, sweat and blood dripping, I ate up the sprint through town, the grueling climb, and screaming descent. I finished with a kick through the streets of Seward, collapsing at the finish from sheer exhaustion and joy. I wore the Altra King MT this first year and will never wear any other shoe for this race—it is simply made for the mountain!

In 2018 I raced Mount Marathon on the worst ankle sprain I’ve ever experienced, setting a PR on my uphill time and hanging on for dear life in a jolting descent. I have to give a huge shout out to Advanced PT in Seward for their incredible taping job prior to the race- go see them while you’re in town! These days I run a lot of ultras (mainly 60-100 miles) so Mount Marathon is a fun, tough short adrenaline rush for me! This year, I could not be more stoked to return for my 3rd year toeing the line. I can already see the incredible community of Seward Alaska lining the streets, hiking up the mountain to douse me with water, pour beer into my gasping mouth, and cheering me in with the most incredible enthusiasm only this day can bring. See you on the mountain!

Race Safety Tips for New and Returning Runners

The race committee would like nothing more than for everyone to have a safe race. This event is inherently dangerous, and it’s important to remember that your safety is 100% your responsibility. The following safety tips were developed with first-time racers in mind. We encourage all racers to spend time thinking about how to stay as safe as possible on race day. 

Tip #1: Spend as much time on the mountain as possible prior to race day.

The race rules state that you have to have trained on the mountain at least once prior to race day. The more time you spend on the mountain, the safer your race day experience is likely to be. We can’t stress this enough.
On race day you will be tired and more fatigued than in your training runs. It will be harder to remember your exact strategy as there will be more runners on the course than you’ve experienced in training, and more spectators.
Familiar landmarks might be hidden. Repetitive training in the more technical areas is recommended. Spend some time at the base of the mountain picking your route up. Spend some time in “the gut” mapping your way down the waterfalls.
Interested in learning from race veterans? The race committee hosts two “mountain previews” in June where experienced runners lead groups of new runners up the lower third of the mountain. Junior runners must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Click here for more details on 2019 dates.

Tip #2: Consider taking a few things on the race course with you.

  • The snow shoot at the top is not likely to melt away between now and race day. A nice pair of gloves would be nice as you try and slow yourself down at the end of the snow slide.
  • Some of the top runners wear ankle braces. They have concluded that the benefit of running all-out down roll with the support of a brace outweighs the weight of a brace.
  • Scree in your shoes makes for painful running on the downhill. Whether it is a pair of shoes that have scree guards, racing gaiters or old fashion duct tape, it is something to plan for. Nothing like rocks in your shoes to make for a bummer day.
  • If you are not competing for a podium spot, you might consider the extra weight of a water bottle or hydration vest. On a hot day, it’s hard to rely on spectators providing enough water along the course to help everyone.
  • Bears are spotted on the mountain every year. Bear spray has proven to be an effective deterrent. While there will be hundreds of people on the course, and lots of noise with the spectators, helicopters and announcing systems, recent tragedies remind us that we would be remiss to not tell you that this race goes through bear country.

Tip #3: Be prepared for any weather.

We have had days where folks are experiencing heat stroke and we have had days where folks are experiencing hypothermia. Make sure you plan for both extreme heat and cold. On hot days, veterans have been known to take a dip in a stream to lower their core temperature before racing. On cold days, leggings might help keep some of that heat in.
We wish all runners the best of luck. Don’t forget that ALL first-time runners are required to attend the safety meeting on July 3 at Seward High School. See you then!

Earn a Race Spot Through Our New Online Auction

Hoping to still claim a spot in the 2019 Mount Marathon Race? You can now bid for a spot in the race via an online silent auction that will take place April 23–April 25.

The top three bids for the women’s race and men’s race will gain a race spot.

The online auction is a perfect opportunity for those who would like to secure a spot in the race with plenty of time to train and make arrangements before participating. Revenue from the auction helps keep registration costs reasonable for everyone else, and it helps cover our expense for the race.

Outside Magazine calls Mount Marathon the “toughest 5K on the planet.” Here’s your chance to join one of the most challenging short-distance mountain races in the world, and the biggest Fourth of July celebration in Alaska!

Help us get the word out by sharing the link to the online auction! The auction closes at 11:59 pm AK on Thursday, April 25.



Changes to Registration and Lottery Fees

For the 2019 race, we have adjusted our registration and lottery fees in response to feedback from the racing community regarding the non-refundable lottery application fee.

2019 registration and lottery fees

Men’s and women’s races:

  • Registration fee: $85 (previously $65)
  • Lottery application fee: $20 (previously $35)

Junior race:

  • Registration fee: $25 (no change)
  • Lottery application fee: $15 (no change)

These changes do not significantly change our revenue. We’re simply shifting more of the expenses to runners who are getting to enjoy the race experience, as opposed to unsuccessful lottery applicants. We have kept the cost of the junior race the same to encourage entire families to continue participating.

Where’s the money go?

The Mount Marathon Race has grown exponentially since the first official running in 1915. These days, providing a great race day experience for our 1,000 runners and up to 30,000 spectators is an enormous effort that requires hundreds of volunteers. Planning the race is a year-round effort by our dedicated, all-volunteer race committee and our small Seward Chamber staff (they volunteer many extra hours as well).

Race registration and lottery fees help pay for essential expenses.

Race registration and lottery fees are used to help pay for the hard costs associated with the race, which total approximately $85,000.

Expenses include race essentials—such as timing equipment, bibs, safety equipment, facility rentals, equipment rentals, port-a-potties, waste management, etc.—and items that enhance the race experience (for example, finisher and volunteer shirts, patches, awards, etc.).

Our objective is to keep the cost of participating manageable while covering the costs of this nonprofit event. Many other events our size have registration fees upwards of $125.

Support from our auction and race partners helps cover remaining expenses.

Other types of race income—such as auction revenue and cash sponsorships—help pay for the balance of race expenses and the Seward Chamber’s nonprofit staff time.

Generous support from our race partners also helps fund other expenses, such as race swag (like those sweet trail gaiters in 2018 from Altra Running), the Fourth of July fireworks display (sponsored by Seward Subway), and runner hydration (courtesy of Powerade).

The Mount Marathon Race is a nonprofit event benefitting the entire community of Seward.

Any remaining race proceeds support the Seward Chamber’s work to build a vibrant year-round economy in Seward. Proceeds from one raffled race entry support the Seward Community Foundation.

By participating in the Mount Marathon Race, you’re directly contributing to the health of our small coastal community. Thank you to all of our runners, partners, and volunteers who make this iconic Alaska event so special!

Your Emergency Contact Information

Your emergency contact name and number is very important information for the Mount Marathon Race Committee.

In recent years we have found it necessary to contact an emergency contact person for racers, not only in the event of injury or distress, but for confirmation when a runner does not appear at the starting line, finish line or other checkpoints in the race.

Every Fourth of July in Seward, as we host many thousands of visitors, we find that our cell phone towers are overwhelmed and cannot handle the volume. It is difficult to place calls to or from cells phones during that day, and we find that sending a text (which is a much smaller piece of electronic information) is more likely to be received in a timely manner, while at the same time providing a record of the contact.

Therefore, emergency contact names and numbers listed on your Mount Marathon Race Application, should ideally be for people with cell phones that can receive text messages during races times!

Changes for 2019 Race

Registration and Lottery Application Fee Changes

Lottery Application Fee Change

In 2019, the lottery application fee for the women’s and men’s races has been reduced to $20 (previously $35). 

Racer Registration Fee Change

Also for 2019, the racer registration fee for the women’s and men’s races has been increased to $85 (previously $65).

Additional Fees

Individuals who gain entry to the 2019 race through lottery selection, petition, or earned race spot must pay the balance of their race registration fee by April 30, 2019. Failure to do so by that deadline will result in race spot forfeiture.

Learn More

Learn more about our decision to change registration and lottery fees in 2019, right here.