An event that Alaska legend says started with two men meeting at a bar -- the Mount Marathon Race, arguably the state's premier Fourth of July event gathering -- is set to bring thousands of Alaskans together in Seward Thursday.
The race started in 1915 and is now in its 86th running, having been called off a few years in times of war.
Runners in the youth, women's and men's races scramble up the 3,022-foot peak in Seward, maneuvering over rocks and tricky terrain, which often leaves them bruised and bloody.
“There’s nothing else like it,” said Flip Foldager, a race committee member “It’s just brutal. It beats you up.”
This year, the race has undergone a few changes after 65-year-old Anchorage runner Michael LeMaitre was reported missing during the 2012 race. Almost a year later, there is still no trace of LeMaitre despite massive searches for the rookie runner.
For the 2013 event, runners have to sign a statement saying they’ve already completed the race course before. Senior racers also have to get to the halfway point in less than 60 minutes, or they will be disqualified and sent back down the mountain.
Foldager also says there will be fencing and signs at the top of The Cliffs, the area where authorities say LeMaitre may have gotten disoriented and descended the far side of the mountain.
Volunteers will also do sweeps of the mountain looking for runners, and Foldager says more people than ever will be monitoring the course during the race.
KTUU.com will be live-streaming all three Mount Marathon Race events, beginning with the youth race at 9:25 a.m. Thursday. Visit our special Mount Marathon section throughout the day for stories, videos and photos highlighting the action from Seward.
Contact Rebecca Palsha