AD Main Menu

After decade of contention Strabel finally wins

Beth Bragg
Racers in the men's event tackle the steep slopes in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Steph Anderson / Anchorage Daily News
Racers in the men's event tackle the steep slopes in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Steph Anderson / Anchorage Daily News
Racers in the men's event tackle the steep slopes in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Steph Anderson / Anchorage Daily News
Racers in the men's event tackle the steep slopes in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Steph Anderson / Anchorage Daily News
Racers in the men's event tackle the steep slopes in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Steph Anderson / Anchorage Daily News
Racers in the men's event tackle the steep slopes in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Steph Anderson / Anchorage Daily News
Racers in the men's event tackle the steep slopes in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Steph Anderson / Anchorage Daily News
Racers in the men's event tackle the steep slopes in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Steph Anderson / Anchorage Daily News
Racers in the men's event tackle the steep slopes in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Steph Anderson / Anchorage Daily News
Racers in the men's event tackle the steep slopes in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Steph Anderson / Anchorage Daily News
Aaron Dickson gives a spectator a high five. Racers in the men's event stream into the finish in downtown Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Joseph Nyholm, dressed in a Gumby suit, gets a high five near the finish line. Racers in the men's event stream into the finish in downtown Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Racers in the men's event tackle the steep slopes in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Steph Anderson / Anchorage Daily News
Kevin Talens shows some scrapes as he runs down Fourth Avenue. Racers in the men's event stream into the finish in downtown Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Spectators line Fourth Avenue to watch racers come in. Racers in the men's event stream into the finish in downtown Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
A line of runners ascends to the 3,022-foot peak in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Miles Knotek races toward a first place finish among junior boys. Juniors raced to the halfway pole on the 3,022-foot high mountain and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Annie Luck runs down the scree. Women climbed to the 3,022-foot high point and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Racers reach the turnaround rock. Women climbed to the 3,022-foot high point and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Silas Talbot leans in to the finish line at right. Racers in the men's event stream into the finish in downtown Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Racers descends the rocky upper reaches of Mount Marathon. Women climbed to the 3,022-foot high point and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Racers negotiate a waterfall on the course. Women climbed to the 3,022-foot high point and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Teresa Russell, right, competes near the race's high point. Women climbed to the 3,022-foot high point and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Barton Dengel hydrates at the finish line. Racers in the men's event stream into the finish in downtown Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Darin Markwardt gets assistance after crossing the finish line. Racers in the men's event stream into the finish in downtown Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Holly Brooks, front, reaches the turnaround point with Kikkan Randall close behind. Women climbed to the 3,022-foot high point and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Katie Peot, left, and Jasmine Hatton head downhill. Women climbed to the 3,022-foot high point and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Andria Hayes gets to the top of the mountain. Women climbed to the 3,022-foot high point and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Racers in the men's event stream into the finish in downtown Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Fran Evarts, center, descends with other women's racers. Women climbed to the 3,022-foot high point and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Competitors in the women's race reached the 3,022-foot high point on the mountain and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Steph Anderson / Anchorage Daily News
Eric Strabel finishes in first place in the men's race in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Competitors in the women's race reached the 3,022-foot high point on the mountain and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Steph Anderson / Anchorage Daily News
Runners take off from the start line in downtown Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon men's race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Karol Fink cools off after finishing the Mount Marathon race. Competitors in the women's race reached the 3,022-foot high point on the mountain and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Steph Anderson / Anchorage Daily News
Eric Strabel, winner of the men's race, is congratulated by Mark Iverson, left, who finished in third place. Racers in the men's event stream into the finish in downtown Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
April Juliussen takes a break after finishing the Mount Marathon race Monday morning. Competitors in the women's race reached the 3,022-foot high point on the mountain and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Steph Anderson / Anchorage Daily News
Women climbed to the 3,022-foot high point and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Kikkan Randall cools down in July 2011 after the grueling Mount Marathon race in Seward.
Steph Anderson / Anchorage Daily News archive
Racers stream up the hill. Women climbed to the 3,022-foot high point and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Competitors in the women's race reached the 3,022-foot high point on the mountain and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Steph Anderson / Anchorage Daily News
Amanda Smith turns around at the top of the mountain. Women climbed to the 3,022-foot high point and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
A racer rests after finishing the Mount Marathon race. Competitors in the women's race reached the 3,022-foot high point on the mountain and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Steph Anderson / Anchorage Daily News
Racers in the women's race descend to the streets of Seward, on Resurrection Bay. Women climbed to the 3,022-foot high point and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Kikkan Randall celebrates as she crosses the finish line of the Mount Marathon race. Competitors in the women's race reached the 3,022-foot high point on the mountain and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Steph Anderson / Anchorage Daily News
Leslie Varys, left, and Aubrey Smith reach the top of the race course. Women climbed to the 3,022-foot high point and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
A junior racer gets a drink near the turnaround point. Juniors raced to the halfway pole on the 3,022-foot high mountain and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Holly Brooks and Kikkan Randall turn around at the top of Mount Marathon. Women climbed to the 3,022-foot high point and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Competitors in the women's race reached the 3,022-foot high point on the mountain and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Steph Anderson / Anchorage Daily News
Holly Brooks (right) hugs Kikkan Randall after Randall won the Mount Marathon race. Competitors in the women's race reached the 3,022-foot high point on the mountain and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Steph Anderson / Anchorage Daily News
Competitors in the women's race reached the 3,022-foot high point on the mountain and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Steph Anderson / Anchorage Daily News
Competitors in the women's race reached the 3,022-foot high point on the mountain and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Steph Anderson / Anchorage Daily News
Spectators watch as competitors in the women's race reached the 3,022-foot high point on the mountain and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Steph Anderson / Anchorage Daily News
Competitors in the women's race reached the 3,022-foot high point on the mountain and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Steph Anderson / Anchorage Daily News
Arianne Massengale crosses the finish line at the Mount Marathon race. Competitors in the women's race reached the 3,022-foot high point on the mountain and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Steph Anderson / Anchorage Daily News
Competitors in the women's race reached the 3,022-foot high point on the mountain and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Steph Anderson / Anchorage Daily News
Amy Hollon heads downhill. Women climbed to the 3,022-foot high point and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Competitors in the women's race reached the 3,022-foot high point on the mountain and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Steph Anderson / Anchorage Daily News
Racers in the men's event tackle the steep slopes in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Steph Anderson / Anchorage Daily News
Racers in the men's event tackle the steep slopes in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Steph Anderson / Anchorage Daily News
Racers in the men's event tackle the steep slopes in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Steph Anderson / Anchorage Daily News
Racers in the men's event tackle the steep slopes in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Steph Anderson / Anchorage Daily News
Racers in the men's event tackle the steep slopes in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Steph Anderson / Anchorage Daily News
Racers in the men's event tackle the steep slopes in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Steph Anderson / Anchorage Daily News
Racers in the men's event tackle the steep slopes in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Steph Anderson / Anchorage Daily News
Racers in the men's event tackle the steep slopes in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Steph Anderson / Anchorage Daily News
Racers in the men's event tackle the steep slopes in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Steph Anderson / Anchorage Daily News
Racers in the men's event tackle the steep slopes in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Steph Anderson / Anchorage Daily News
Aaron Dickson gives a spectator a high five. Racers in the men's event stream into the finish in downtown Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Joseph Nyholm, dressed in a Gumby suit, gets a high five near the finish line. Racers in the men's event stream into the finish in downtown Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Racers in the men's event tackle the steep slopes in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Steph Anderson / Anchorage Daily News
Kevin Talens shows some scrapes as he runs down Fourth Avenue. Racers in the men's event stream into the finish in downtown Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Spectators line Fourth Avenue to watch racers come in. Racers in the men's event stream into the finish in downtown Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
A line of runners ascends to the 3,022-foot peak in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Miles Knotek races toward a first place finish among junior boys. Juniors raced to the halfway pole on the 3,022-foot high mountain and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Annie Luck runs down the scree. Women climbed to the 3,022-foot high point and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Racers reach the turnaround rock. Women climbed to the 3,022-foot high point and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Silas Talbot leans in to the finish line at right. Racers in the men's event stream into the finish in downtown Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Racers descends the rocky upper reaches of Mount Marathon. Women climbed to the 3,022-foot high point and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Racers negotiate a waterfall on the course. Women climbed to the 3,022-foot high point and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Teresa Russell, right, competes near the race's high point. Women climbed to the 3,022-foot high point and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Barton Dengel hydrates at the finish line. Racers in the men's event stream into the finish in downtown Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Darin Markwardt gets assistance after crossing the finish line. Racers in the men's event stream into the finish in downtown Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Holly Brooks, front, reaches the turnaround point with Kikkan Randall close behind. Women climbed to the 3,022-foot high point and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Katie Peot, left, and Jasmine Hatton head downhill. Women climbed to the 3,022-foot high point and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Andria Hayes gets to the top of the mountain. Women climbed to the 3,022-foot high point and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Racers in the men's event stream into the finish in downtown Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Fran Evarts, center, descends with other women's racers. Women climbed to the 3,022-foot high point and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Competitors in the women's race reached the 3,022-foot high point on the mountain and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Steph Anderson / Anchorage Daily News
Eric Strabel finishes in first place in the men's race in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Competitors in the women's race reached the 3,022-foot high point on the mountain and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Steph Anderson / Anchorage Daily News
Runners take off from the start line in downtown Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon men's race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Karol Fink cools off after finishing the Mount Marathon race. Competitors in the women's race reached the 3,022-foot high point on the mountain and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Steph Anderson / Anchorage Daily News
Eric Strabel, winner of the men's race, is congratulated by Mark Iverson, left, who finished in third place. Racers in the men's event stream into the finish in downtown Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
April Juliussen takes a break after finishing the Mount Marathon race Monday morning. Competitors in the women's race reached the 3,022-foot high point on the mountain and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Steph Anderson / Anchorage Daily News
Women climbed to the 3,022-foot high point and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Kikkan Randall cools down in July 2011 after the grueling Mount Marathon race in Seward.
Steph Anderson / Anchorage Daily News archive
Racers stream up the hill. Women climbed to the 3,022-foot high point and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Competitors in the women's race reached the 3,022-foot high point on the mountain and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Steph Anderson / Anchorage Daily News
Amanda Smith turns around at the top of the mountain. Women climbed to the 3,022-foot high point and back to the streets of Seward in the 2011 Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News

SEWARD -- When perennial contender Eric Strabel crossed the finish line Monday to win his first Mount Marathon title in 12 attempts, he let loose the scream of a madman.

"AAGH!" he hollered. Then again, and again.

"That's the sound of about 10 years of frustration," said Strabel, 29, a four-time runner-up in the arduous race up and down the 3,022-foot peak that stands guard over Resurrection Bay.

"I've been trying to win this thing," Strabel said, "and I've dreamt of winning it so much, I was starting to think maybe it was just a dream."

This time it was for real.

When Strabel wakes up today, he will do so as the ninth-fastest finisher in the history of Mount Marathon, which began in 1915 and has been contested 84 times.

A wickedly fast descent vaulted Strabel from fourth place to first and carried him to a time of 44 minutes, 40 seconds.

Though well off Bill Spencer's 1981 record of 43:23, it's one of just 13 sub-45:00 times in history and shares ninth place on the all-time list with the 44:10 recorded last year by winner Trond Flagstad.

Brent Knight, who held a slim lead over Mark Iverson halfway down the mountain when Stabel blew past them, also joined the sub-45 club. He placed second in 44:58, finishing second in 44:58. Iverson placed third in 45:18. All three men are from Anchorage.

Conditions were nearly perfect -- overcast with temperatures in the 60s -- and racers took advantage.

Four of the top five finishers racked up personal bests. The only one who didn't was Iverson, who established an impressive PR in his first running of the race.

Strabel shaved 62 seconds off the PR he ran last year; Knight took 64 seconds off his previous best, set in 2006; 2009 champion Matias Saari of Anchorage claimed fourth place in 46:04, six seconds off his previous best; and fifth-place Matt Novakovich of Anchorage cracked the 47-minute mark for the first time, clocking 46:44.

All shared handshakes and atta-boys at the finish line, as is the custom at mountain races, where the camaraderie is obvious.

And all marveled at the burst of downhill speed Strabel displayed to take control of the race.

"Strabel came by me so fast -- holy cow!" Iverson said.

Strabel said that's exactly what he hoped the frontrunners would think.

"A third of the way down the mountain, I was able to gauge how far ahead Brent and Mark were, and I could see I'd made up a significant gap," he said. "It was no time for half-measures. I had to make a statement -- a nudge to your competitor -- that you're going to have to work to get me."

A former star runner and skier for Colony High and an NCAA All-American skier for UAA, Strabel became the rare junior boys champion who manages to attain victory at the senior level too. Since the 1970s, only three have done it -- Bill Spencer, Jim Renkert and now Strabel.

His ability and achievements -- and his repeated top-5 finishes -- left many wondering when and if he'd ever claim a senior title.

"I was really getting tired of the questions -- 'Are you gonna win today?' I must've heard that a hundred times over the last 10 years," Strabel said. "This race was about getting the gorilla off my back."

Knight, 27, has a gorilla of his own that he might be able to shed now too.

Knight owns two third-place finishes, a fourth-place finish and Monday's runner-up showing, and he hopes that maybe now people will associate him with those top Mount Marathon finishes -- and not his famous Mount Marathon collapse.

In the 2009 race, Knight had a substantial lead as he ran down Fourth Street to the finish line. Then, with 200 meters to go, he collapsed into unconsciousness and was hospitalized with severe heat exhaustion and dehydration.

Two years later, people still ask him about.

"That's one of the drawbacks of working in a running store," joked Knight, who works for Skinny Raven, where many customers are familiar with his story.

"I'm afraid I'm gonna be infamous for this race, as much as I don't want to be."

A victory would turn infamy to instant fame, which is why Knight -- like so many Mount Marathon runners -- plans to be back back next year.

"It took Strabel 12 years," Knight said. "I've only been doing it six."

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

Interactive map
Photos: 2011 Mount Marathon
By BETH BRAGG
bbragg@adn.com