The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

By Tommy Wells
Seward Phoenix LOG 

Talented field of runners ready to race in '17


Tommy Wells

A runner carrying the U.S. flag sprints past two competitors as he makes his way toward the finish line during the 2016 Mount Marathon Race.

On paper, David Norris and Christy Marvin look as if they are pretty solid choices to repeat as the champions of the Mount Marathon Race. Both turned in record-setting efforts last year. And, based on the recent history of the race, winners usually win again.

All Norris did last year in his Mount Marathon debut was shatter the course record. He clocked a final time of 41 minutes, 26 seconds, and bettered the previous record set by Spain's Kilian Journet in 2015 by 22 seconds. Marvin won her second MMR title in three years by establishing a personal-best of 51:02-a mark that stands as the fifth-fastest women's time in history.

Can Norris and Marvin win again? Absolutely, And, to be honest, no one would be surprised if they did. Is it a certainty they will win again? No way. And, again, no one would be too surprised if they didn't, considering the talented field of runners set to participate in this year's race.

On the men's side, Norris will be facing one of the tougher fields in recent memory of the 90-year-old race. Overall, no fewer than seven runners, including Norris, have legitimate odds of running away with the race crown.

Kilian Journet, winner in 2015, announced earlier in the week he would not be competing in this year's race. Instead, he will be participating in a mountain race in Colorado.

A runner who could challenge for the race title is three-time champion Eric Strabel. The Mount Marathon champion in 2011, 2013 and 2014, he finished third a year ago.

Strabel previously held the race's fastest-time mark, his record-shattering 42:55 in 2013. His time en route to winning that year broke Bill Spencer's record of 43:21, which had stood for 32 years.

Also scheduled to be in the field this year is Nic Elson. A native of British Columbia, Elson posted the sixth-fastest time in the race's history a year ago and finished second. An extra year of experience on Mount Marathon will only help his chances.

Like David Norris, Christy Marvin will be facing a bevy of talent in her bid to win her second straight Mount Marathon title.

Three of the bigger challenges could come from Seward native Denali Foldager-Strabel, former MMR champion Emelie Forsberg and Alaska running phenom Allison Ostrander of Soldotna. Foldager-Strabel finished third a year ago.

A native of Sweden, Forsberg established the fastest time in the women's race with a mark of 47:48-a a mark almost 4 minutes faster than the time Marvin won with a year ago.

Forsberg did not compete in last year's race.

Perhaps the biggest wildcard is the return of Ostrander. A NCAA track standout, Ostrander finished second to Forsberg in her first year in the senior division in 2015. She turned in a time of 50:28 in that race.

Prior to competing in the women's division, Ostrander had won the girls' junior championship six times.

Another runner who could bear watching is former Olympic nordic skier Morgan Arritola of Boise, Idaho. She is a multi-time U.S. Mountain Running champion and finished 10th in the world championships in Wales in 2015.


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