Mount Marathon Marathon and other fun things in Seward Alaska

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

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.

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Mount Marathon Marathon, Seward Alaska

map of mount marathon marathon in Seward AlaskaThe first race was in 1915. 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. About 40,000 people descend on the town of 3,000 to watch the race held July 4th weekend.

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

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

But it’s a serious race. You’ll find Olympic athletes climbing up the side of the mountain. In 1973, a teenage boy did it in less than 25 minutes, but most adults take closer to 45 minutes to complete.

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. However, I have been successful, more or less, of climbing a few other peaks.

What Else to do in Seward Alaska 

The boat harbor in Seward Alaska.If you remember correctly for your high school history classes, Abraham Lincoln’s secretary of state, William Henry Seward, was responsible for purchasing Alaska. At the time, it was scorned as “Seward’s Folly.” Now the city of Seward is named for this man. So, maybe the Mount Marathon Marathon could be considered another of Seward’s follies.

It’s a charming little town visited by a gazillion cruise ships in the summer. Visit the Alaska Sea Life Center, right on the water front. Consider lunch at the Smoke Shack, a barbecue joint on the harbor.

A cute little story that comes from Alaska is that of Benny Benson. He was an orphaned child living in Seward in 1927. The American Legion sponsored a contest for children to design the official state flag of Alaska. Benny won. There’s a little monument outside of town to Benny. You’ll find a children’s storybook called Benny’s Flag for sale in shops all around town.

Plan for your trip to Seward Alaska