Monday, July 5, 2010

Continuing Tradition

Taken from near the base of the mountain, looking out into Downtown Seward and Resurrection Bay...

Nine out of the last ten years I have spent the fourth day in July in Seward, Alaska. Every year on this day the greater part of Alaska's running community join together with Alaskan people from near and far to watch or participate in racing up Mt. Marathon. A three and a half mile race from start to finish, only the studliest participants can complete it in less than an hour. While the race starts and finishes on downtown streets, participants gain (and lose) over 3,000 feet in elevation and scale climbs as steep as 60 degrees.

I have never participated in the race, though I have hiked the mountain for fun. Curtis attempted to gain entry to the race this year (whose spots are severely limited for safety reasons), but did not win a spot in the lottery. Alas, he'll have to prove his Alaskan manliness on another occasion.

While I knew several participants in the race, some old comrades from high school and other more recent friends, I enjoyed circulating through town talking and catching up with people I haven't seen, well, since the last time I was at the race. Many people commented that it is an annual reunion of sorts, this mountain race. This one day is set aside every year to circulate through a small town, purchase local fried halibut, and cheer on courageous racers, in sun, rain or cold...because we do it every year.

New traditions that will be established in light of our relocation have yet to be seen, but in the midst of the chaos of moving, and not being able to establish any sort of schedule or regularity, an annual tradition that can be navigated with little stress is a welcome thing indeed.


  1. I love race traditions and the thought of it as an annual reunion warms my heart! I really miss my old running community and since moving away from North Central PA, I've yet to find another one and have frankly drifted away from running because it's not the same without Oregon East - my old running club. Our cold winter morning 13 milers that wound through the mountains and by lakes and streams and in and out of dive bars are some of my fondest memories... particularly the ones that culminated with an impromptu bon fire on the side of the road or in an old gravel parking lot!

  2. I so missed Mt. Marathon yesterday! I was there the last two years too and just love it!