Mount Marathon Marathon, Seward Alaska

Like many of life’s most interesting endeavors, the Mount Marathon Race in Seward Alaska began with a bar bet.

Courtesy race organizers

Basically, a couple of guys with too much time on their hands and too much alcohol in their systems looked out the window and said to the other: “I bet you can’t run to the top of the mountain and back in less than an hour” or something sort of like that.

So they took off running and they’re still running today.

Mount Marathon Marathon, Seward Alaska

seward alaska

Photo by Bruce N. Meyer

The first race was in 1915 and the only thing that has changed is the number of people who come to this little town on the Kenai peninsula to race and watch the race, now held on July 4th. About 40,000 people descend on the town of 3,000 to watch the race.

The mountain shoots pretty much straight up to 3,022 feet above sea level and the folks filling the streets of Seward have a pretty good view of the racers every step of the way.

A lottery is held weeks ahead to grant running space to 400 men and 400 women. Hundreds more are turned away each year. They’ve also added a senior category and a kids category and something tells me a bit more alcohol is served now that there was in 1915.

But it’s a serious race. Olympic athletes are common in the crowd heading up the side of the mountain. The best time ever has been 43 minutes and 23 seconds.

I’m pretty sure in that time, I would still be sitting on the bar stool contemplating my options for getting out of that bet.


seward alaska

The Seward Alaska Harbor. Photo by Bruce N. Meyer

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