Every Fourth of July since 1915, the small, sea town of Seward, Alaska holds a race from its downtown to the summit of Mount Marathon and back. It’s a grueling run up to the 3022 foot summit, which at times has the entrants using their hands as much as their feet to climb the steep slope. Downhill is another story: It’s a mad, free for all at insane speed down the rocky, mountain side. Most racers cross the finish line covered in mud & blood. The record time was set in 1981 by Bill Spencer in an amazing 43 mins 21 secs.
Alaskans truly love this race and it shows with the populace of Seward growing from 3000 to as many as 40000 for the July 4th celebrations.
This year, a 66 year old participant from Anchorage has vanished from the mountain. He was last seen by race volunteers 200 feet from the summit. There has been no trace of him since. Alaska State Troopers have called off their search, but the Seward Fire Department and other volunteers continue to search Mount Marathon.
Tragically, in another accident, an elite racing veteran lost his footing on descent near the base of the mountain and suffered a broken skull, broken leg and other injuries. “To bound downhill, just on the edge of out-of-control, is what elite racers shoot for. We make these decisions, to run as fast as we can. To choose that mountain race. To go fast on the downhill. Ninety-nine percent of the time, we’re rewarded for it.” — Alaska Mountain Runners president Brad Precosky
As of today, Michael LeMaitre is still missing and Matthew Kenney is still in a coma.