McTaggart sets record in Hatcher Marathon

Robert Scoggin runs through the rain as he nears the finish line in the Hatcher Pass Marathon on Willow Fishhook Road.
Shawn McTaggart holds her first-place medal and hugs her husband, Tony Covarrubias, after finishing the Hatcher Pass Marathon on Saturday, July 7, 2012.

Shawn McTaggart of Anchorage broke the women's record in the almost entirely uphill and unpaved Hatcher Pass Marathon on Saturday, and David Johnston of Wasilla earned the overall title.

The 26.2-mile race that gains about 4,000 feet in elevation, and cruelly hurtles runners downhill in the final mile, is a tough test, even though the fastest runners, like McTaggart and Johnston, mostly missed nasty rain that fell four hours into the race.

Of course, for the winners, a traditional marathon is short work.

McTaggart, whose time of 4 hours, 2 minutes, 1 second, trimmed 20 seconds off the record Kimberly Beaman established in last year's inaugural race, and Johnston, who clocked 3:19:59, each finished last winter's Iditarod Invitational 350-miler from Knik to McGrath on foot.

And Johnston is a two-time winner of the Resurrection Pass 100-Miler, which will be run later this month from Hope to Cooper Landing and back.

Both Johnston, 42, and McTaggart, 35, last month ran the Mayor's Marathon in Anchorage.

Saturday's second annual marathon and marathon relay, which followed the Willow Fishhook Road over the summit of Hatcher Pass and finished near Independence Mine State Park, drew 25 solo marathoners and 22 relay teams. Race officials reported a temperature of 43 degrees at the finish line.

Johnston topped Sam Crow, 46, of Bethel, who clocked 3:41:26, and third-place finisher Dare Hedum, 19, who finished in 3:44:55.

McTaggart beat runner-up Jenny Hoeger, 42, of Palmer, who ran 4:40:16 to top third-place finisher Kailyn McGrath, 29, of Palmer, who crossed in 4:40:32.

The relay team that billed itself as Hatcher Pass Roadkill -- that's Jim McDonough, Amber McDonough and Greer Gehler -- won that division in 3:29:17.

Tonic Triumvirate, the team of Weston Patrick, Nick Bringer and Daniel Brunnhoelzl finished second in 3:31:57. And the Nancy Lake State Park Relay team of Sam Lillard, David Ring and Rachel Ulrich, took third in 3:36:10.

Saturday's race was part of the Willow Race Series organized by the Willow Running Club.

Anchorage Daily News