Muscles burn, stomachs turn, sweat rolls off bodies
With one of the warmest races in recent years, athletes looking to conquer Seward’s Mount Marathon were treated to another level of torture – suffocating heat – during the 87th annual race held July 4.
Local runners were well represented throughout the race results, including several top-10 finishes at all levels of the race.
2006 Eagle River High graduate Lauren Fritz placed seventh in the high-touted women’s race with a time of 59 minutes, 17 second. Deemed the most impressive field in recent years, the list of top entrants lacked only Kikkan Randall. Fritz, now 26, lives in Anchorage.
Fritz, who had placed second to Olympian Holly Brooks in 2012, in 54:47, said she had to contend with the heat as well as the other athletes.
A high-school standout in track, cross-country skiing and running, Fritz attended Middlebury College on a ski scholarship and has skied in US National Super Tour series races since.
The week prior to Mt. Marathon, Fritz had joined Randall, Brooks and others on Eagle Glacier, around Girdwood, for APU Ski Center training.
“I didn’t get in as much hiking this summer as I usually do,” she said Sunday, still nursing some muscle soreness.
Fritz said the course was stifling hot, on both the city streets and under the trees for the first 20 minutes of the race.
“I was dripping sweat while under the trees,” she said.
The runner added that she was appreciative of the dozens of volunteers along the ascent who were throwing water on the runners or dispensing cups of water or electrolyte replenishment fluids as the runners moved up the mountain.
Once above the tree line, Fritz began to reel in other runners, estimating that she was seventh to the turnaround point at an elevation of 3,022 feet.
“My legs were wobbly at the top – I think it was the heat,” she recalled.
Consequently, Fritz said she didn’t attack the downhill the way she had wanted – with the resulting time three minutes slower than her 2012 descent.
Other top finishers among locals in the women’s race included Sheryl Loan, 18th; Kinsey Loan, 24th; Teresa Russell, 25th; Rachel Russell, 33rd; and Kristen Lessard, 72nd.
Local men were paced by Levi Younger, who finished 32nd overall, in 57:24, followed closely by 2014 Chugiak graduate David McPhetres, only eight seconds behind.
Others in the top 100 included Brandon King, 42nd; Joey Klecka, 43rd; Alex Babos, 59th; Pete McEnaney, 76th; Casey Volk, 83rd; Travis Harrington, 96th; and Shane Topf, 100th.
In the junior races, Roan Hall placed third, overall, and Keegan Crow, 11th, among the boys; while Hannah and Heidi Booher, placed fourth and 11th, respectively. Reilly Hall, Roan’s sister, placed 43th.