The Mount Marathon Race in Seward, Alaska, held annually on July 4, is approximately 5K but considered one of the world’s toughest mountain races. The course, which involves ascending and descending Mount Marathon, features 921 metres of elevation gain.
The 2015 edition of the race is highlighted in the latest episode in season five of Salomon Running T.V., entitled Mt. Marathon. The halfway point of the race is a stone marker at the top of the mountain before runners return to the town of 2,500 people below where they started.
“Every fourth of July thousands of people descend on the small harbour town of Seward, Alaska to witness one of the oldest, fastest, hardest, toughest…and shortest mountain races in the world,” reads the video’s description. The Mount Marathon Race is believed to be the oldest mountain race in the United States and was first raced in 1915.
Entry into the race ranges from automatic qualifying based on placing at past events to admission through a lottery. The event is capped to ensure that the race does not have significant environmental impact. Ten entries are offered via an auction before the race too with bids going for as much as US$3,000.
A safety meeting is held before each year’s event as running down the steep slopes of the mountain is dangerous. Most runners cross the finish line bloodied or bruised.
Canadian Mountain Running champion Nick Elson is in the field for July 4, an American holiday.
Last year’s race was the centenary edition of the Mount Marathon Race. Both course records were broken by Killian Jornet (41:48) and Emelie Forsberg (47:48). One of the United States’ top collegiate runners, Allie Ostrander, is a regular competitor at the event.
Jornet, often considered the world’s top trail runner, will race again on Monday as will Forsberg. Both have bib No. 1 as the returning champions.
Two runners have an incredible streak of racing the event. Fred Moore holds the current record for most finishes by a man (46 times, 1970 – current) and Ellyn Brown holds the women’s record (27 times, 1989 – current).