Ostrander 3-peats in junior girls race; boys winner fastest in years

July 4, 2011 

SEWARD -- Based on what Soldotna's Allie Ostrander has done in her last four Mount Marathons, it's scary to think what she might do in her three remaining years in the junior division.

Ostrander, 14, shattered her own record while claiming her third straight title Monday, cementing her status as the greatest junior girl in race history.

Miles Knotek of Moose Pass made a bit of history himself in winning the boys race, becoming one of the few boys in the last 30 years to break the 27-minute mark in the race that goes halfway up 3,022-foot Mount Marathon.

Knotek, 16, pulled away from runner-up Lyon Kopsack of Palmer to win in 26 minutes, 18 seconds. It's the fastest junior time since at least 1987; race officials were unable to immediately determine where it ranks on the all-time list.

As for Ostrander, she cruised to a time of 30 minutes, 32 seconds, slicing 43 seconds off the record of 31:15 she set last year.

Best of all -- in her opinion -- she finished ninth overall in the race, which includes both boys and girls.

She sprinted past Keegan Crow, a 14-year-old boy from Eagle River whose time of 30:38 placed him ninth in the highly competitive boys division.

"That was my goal, to get in the top 10," Ostrander said. "It's really cool to be able to pass someone at the end.

"There was not much left" in those final meters when she overtook Crow, Ostrander said, "but I didn't have much left when I got to the midway point. That's why you've got to be mentally tough and you've got to be able to push yourself. You've also so go to talk to yourself and say, 'Anything that doesn't kill you makes you better.' "

Ostrander is a slight thing, one-half inch short of 5 feet tall and a few pounds less than 70. But she's a monster on the mountain. Every year she has run the race, she has gotten faster.

In 2008, her 37:35 established the record for the girls 11-and-under age group. In 2009, she captured her first victory and set the 12-14 age group record with a tie of 34:24.

Last year she grabbed the overall record, lowering the 12-14 mark in the process while taking her second victory. This year's win, which put her 4:08 ahead of runner-up Mira Hopkins of Anchorage, lowered both records again.

Knotek, 16, is believed to be just the fourth boy to dip below 27:00 since 1976, when Scott Taylor ran a 26:40. Tory Dugan won the 1997 race in 26:51 and Rory Egelus won the 2004 race in 26:35.

"I was hoping for something in the 26s," Knotek said. "I've been working for this all summer."

Knotek said he hiked to the top of Mount Marathon 11 or 12 times and made three other trips to the halfway point to prepare for Monday's race. That was on top of more regular workouts in Moose Pass.

"I have my own mountains and trails there," he said.

Knotek took the lead while climbing to the midpoint, passing runner-up Lyon Kopsack of Palmer along the way.

"That's a smoking fast time," said Kopsack, who was no slacker himself in 27:38, a time that would have topped four of the previous five races.

Reach Beth Bragg at bbragg@adn.com or 257-4335.

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