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Rookie Christy Marvin wins Mount Marathon women's race

Doyle Woody
Denali Foldager of Seward runs to ninth place in the women's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Scott Babos of Anchorage keeps his balance on the descent in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Runners make their way up hill in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Alec Kay heads down hill in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Judy Kanady of Anchorage finishes the women's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Allison Barnwell of Seward heads up the mountain in the women's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Runners get under way as they head through town and approach the climb in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Challenger Rickey Gates was first off the top of the mountain, but was overtaken by winner Eric Strabel and finished second in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Solomon D'Amico and Josh Thomas of Seward make the climb in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
John Browne of Palmer is pursued as he makes the descent in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Lauren Spinelli of Anchorage finishes the women's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Valerie Mays of Eagle River begins her climb in the women's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Robert Forgit of Anchorage leads some runners down a scree chute in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Brent Knight reacts to cheers from friends as he makes the climb in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward. He went on the place fifth.
Erik Hill
John Klein leads David Apperson, who acknowledges friends, as they make the climb in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Edward Hartman of Seward descends a gully in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Arianne Massengale of Anchorage finishes the women's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Jacob Lestina of Eagle River seems pleased to be off the mountain and heading for pavement. Mount Marathon 2013 racing kicked off with the juniors race on Thursday morning, July 4, 2013, in Seward, Alaska. Racers aged 7-17 climb halfway up the mountain before returning to the finish line downtown.
Erik Hill
A fan monitors the women descending the slopes in the Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Eric Strabel screams down the scree, clocking a downhill run of 10 minutes 36 seconds en route to setting a new race record of 42 minutes 55 seconds in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Karl Romig of Cooper Landing and Timothy Blake of Anchorage climb in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Turner Rodgers of Anchorage shares a smile on the descent in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Erin Hamilton of Anchorage leads Kate Backstrum of Anchorage to the finish in the women's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Michelle Wilson of Anchorage makes the climb in the women's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
A bear wishes runners good luck at the Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Eric Strabel, visiting challenger Rickey Gates and Wylie Mangelsdorf ascend the mountain in their eventual order of finish in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Andy Duenow of Anchorage make a colorful climb in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Jens Bombeck of Eagle River leads runners out of a gully in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Jennifer Uriarte of Seward leads several runners to the finish in the women's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Jocelyn Kopsack of Palmer slides over rocks at the bottom of the mountain. Mount Marathon 2013 racing kicked off with the juniors race on Thursday morning, July 4, 2013, in Seward, Alaska. Racers aged 7-17 climb halfway up the mountain before returning to the finish line downtown.
Erik Hill
Defending champion Matt Novakovich of Anchorage cramped up and struggled to eleventh place in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Aubrey Smith, of Seward, climbs the muddy trail on the lower portion of Mount Marathon on Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward. 23
Erik Hill
Runners make their way up hill in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Russell Storjohann of Anthem, Az. makes the descent in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Former Alaskan and 1992 Winter Olympian Sue Forbes of Kaunakakai, Hi. finishes the women's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Juniors head for pavement after reaching the base of the mountain. Mount Marathon 2013 racing kicked off with the juniors race on Thursday morning, July 4, 2013, in Seward, Alaska. Racers aged 7-17 climb halfway up the mountain before returning to the finish line downtown.
Erik Hill
Karl Wing of Anchorage carefully makes his way down the scree in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Wendy Sailors climbs a muddy trail through the trees during the women's Mount Marathon race on Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Wylie Mangelsdorf of Palmer heads down hill in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Glen Anderson of Seward and Peter Adams of Anchorage descend in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Justine Pechuzal of Seward receives a hug after finishing the women's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Hannah Booher of Chugiak arrives at the bottom of the mountain. Mount Marathon 2013 racing kicked off with the juniors race on Thursday morning, July 4, 2013, in Seward, Alaska. Racers aged 7-17 climb halfway up the mountain before returning to the finish line downtown.
Erik Hill
Lauren Fritz of Eagle River claims fourth place in the women's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Judy Kanady, center, and other racer's in the women'sMount Marathon race climb through the trees on Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Benjamin Ward and A William Stoll head down hill in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Bennett Lee leads runners down a chute in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Liz Novakovich of Anchorage strides off the rocks at the base of the mountain. Mount Marathon 2013 racing kicked off with the juniors race on Thursday morning, July 4, 2013, in Seward, Alaska. Racers aged 7-17 climb halfway up the mountain before returning to the finish line downtown.
Erik Hill
Shane Piscoya-Shellabarger of Anchorage flies over rocks at the base of the mountain. Mount Marathon 2013 racing kicked off with the juniors race on Thursday morning, July 4, 2013, in Seward, Alaska. Racers aged 7-17 climb halfway up the mountain before returning to the finish line downtown.
Erik Hill
Racers make the climb in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News Fourth place finisher Lauren Fritz rests after finishing the Mount Marathon race on Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Rory Egelus of Palmer races down hill in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Andrew Lessig of Anchorage makes the descent in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Janet Ponder-Sutphin heads up hill in the women's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Christopher Kingsland of Seward, left, and Brooke Estes of Moose Pass head for pavement and the finish line. Mount Marathon 2013 racing kicked off with the juniors race on Thursday morning, July 4, 2013, in Seward, Alaska. Racers aged 7-17 climb halfway up the mountain before returning to the finish line downtown.
Erik Hill
Racers slowly make the climb in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Gregory Lincoln of Bethel makes the descent in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Christy Marvin hugs her husband, Ben, after winning the women's Mount Marathon race on Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
A runner gets airborne heading down hill in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Vandaz Madison of Anchorage passes remnants of winter in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Runners recover after finishing the women's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Josh Novakovich, right, Kayla Rowe and Heidi Booher scramble across the last few rocks as they reach the base of the mountain. Mount Marathon 2013 racing kicked off with the juniors race on Thursday morning, July 4, 2013, in Seward, Alaska. Racers aged 7-17 climb halfway up the mountain before returning to the finish line downtown.
Erik Hill
Matias Saari heads downhill to claim fourth place in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Tor Christopherson makes his way up the hill in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Ellyn Brown crosses the finish line in the women's Mount Marathon race on Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
A runner accelerates down the mountain in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Aubrey Smith of Seward gives up a place or two as she greets her hometown fans while finishing the women's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Heidi Booher of Chugiak near the bottom of the mountain. Mount Marathon 2013 racing kicked off with the juniors race on Thursday morning, July 4, 2013, in Seward, Alaska. Racers aged 7-17 climb halfway up the mountain before returning to the finish line downtown.
Erik Hill
Ruby Lindquist of Moose Pass jumps off a rock at the base of the mountain. Mount Marathon 2013 racing kicked off with the juniors race on Thursday morning, July 4, 2013, in Seward, Alaska. Racers aged 7-17 climb halfway up the mountain before returning to the finish line downtown.
Erik Hill
Karl Mechtenberg of Seward heads down the screein the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Barney Griffith of Anchorage makes the climb in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Christy Marvin of Palmer wins her debut Mount Marathon women's race in 53 minutes and 20 seconds Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
John Klein of Anchorage hits the scree in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Tara Swanson of Seward head up hill in the women's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Runners recover after finishing the women's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Cheyenne Applegate of Anchorage nears the bottom of the mountain. Mount Marathon 2013 racing kicked off with the juniors race on Thursday morning, July 4, 2013, in Seward, Alaska. Racers aged 7-17 climb halfway up the mountain before returning to the finish line downtown.
Erik Hill
Megan Pitzman of Homer heads for pavement after reaching the base of the mountain. Mount Marathon 2013 racing kicked off with the juniors race on Thursday morning, July 4, 2013, in Seward, Alaska. Racers aged 7-17 climb halfway up the mountain before returning to the finish line downtown.
Erik Hill
Joshua Allely of Anchorage leads Josiah Martin of Kenai through some brush on the downhill stretch in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Miles Knotek of Moose Pass makes his way up hill in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Amber St. Amand, left, of Seward and Jasmine Hatton of Anchorage make their way up the course in style at the Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Peter McEnaney of Eagle River makes the descent in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Lauren Bassler of Anchorage begins her climb in the women's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Justine Pechuzal of Seward receives a low high five after finishing the women's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Hannah Seidl of Anchorage heads for the finish line after descending the mountain. Mount Marathon 2013 racing kicked off with the juniors race on Thursday morning, July 4, 2013, in Seward, Alaska. Racers aged 7-17 climb halfway up the mountain before returning to the finish line downtown.
Erik Hill
Ian Autrey of Anchorage takes a road less traveled, framed by wildflowers as he cuts over to the far right from the path taken by most runners in the descent portion of the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
John Novak of Anchorage heads up hill in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Lance Kopsack of Palmer heads down hill in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Amy Hollon of Anchorage makes the climb in the women's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Rebecca Mamrol of Anchorage begins the climb in the women's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Jared Hawkins of Palmer heads for the finish. Mount Marathon 2013 racing kicked off with the juniors race on Thursday morning, July 4, 2013, in Seward, Alaska. Racers aged 7-17 climb halfway up the mountain before returning to the finish line downtown.
Erik Hill
Michael Squires of Anchorage leads Steven Isaacs of Anchorage, left, and other runners down a scree path towards the waterfall chute in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
William Ross of Anchorage climbs in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Thomas Coolidge, 62, of Anchorage sets an age-group record in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Racers make their way up the mountain in the women's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Margaret Griffin of Soldotna begins the climb in the women's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Ava Harren of Anchorage heads for the finish line after descending the mountain. Mount Marathon 2013 racing kicked off with the juniors race on Thursday morning, July 4, 2013, in Seward, Alaska. Racers aged 7-17 climb halfway up the mountain before returning to the finish line downtown.
Erik Hill
Connor Vincent of Phoenix, Az. watches his footing while descending the scree slope in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Harlow Robinson makes the climb in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
A runner blows past hikers while taking a less-traveled path down hill in the men's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Greta Anderson of Anchorage finishes the women's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill
Christy Marvin of Palmer leads racers through the trees en route to winning the women's Mount Marathon race Thursday, July 4, 2013 in Seward.
Erik Hill

SEWARD — Myriad difficulties conspired against Christy Marvin when she made her debut on Mount Marathon, the 3,022-foot slab of pain that doubles as the torture rack of Alaska’s most prestigious mountain run.

She battled bronchitis in the two weeks approaching the annual Fourth of July race up and down agony-inducing slopes that average 38 degrees. And none of her training forays on the mountain were in the wet, slippery conditions that prevailed in the 86th running of the storied competition.

Just before the race, Marvin discovered that many of the knobbed treads on one of her trail shoes were hanging loosely, attached by only thin slivers of rubber. Her husband, Ben, made a quick trip to the store for Super Glue – alas, the mountain made quick work of the repair job.

Then, going up Mount Marathon in cool temperatures and a chilling wind, the left side of Marvin’s body momentarily went numb. Also, her right groin acted as if it might become a problem.

Yet early Thursday afternoon, the 32-year-old mother of three boys laughed it all off — mirth comes easier to a champion.

Marvin won the women’s title, leading wire-to-wire and clocking 53 minutes, 20 seconds to become the first rookie to triumph in a Mount Marathon debut since Toby Schwoerer won the men’s race in 2004.

“If having kids and a family teaches you anything, it’s to roll with the punches and don’t let little things bother you,’’ Marvin said as she walked up Fifth Avenue afterward to stave off potential cramping.

After winning three mountain races leading up to Mount Marathon — many racers call it the Super Bowl of Alaska mountain running, in part because thousands of spectators are drawn to it — Marvin entered as the favorite. That status was enhanced when Olympic skiers Holly Brooks and Kikkan Randall, the past two race champions, skipped the potentially dangerous race, and its harrowing downhill, because injury would compromise their training for the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia.

From the outset Thursday, Marvin, the former Glennallen high school running star who now calls Palmer home, conquered the field, and the mountain that overlooks Resurrection Bay.

“She was just powering up that thing,’’ marveled runner-up Allison Barnwell.

Barnwell, 21, of Seward, finished second in 55:11, just three seconds off her personal best and, given conditions, a sturdier performance than her 55:08 that earned her fourth place last year.

Marvin’s wasn’t the only marvelous debut. Anchorage’s Ann Spencer, 18 and a former junior racer making her first appearance in the senior field, delivered a remarkable race that earned her third place in 56:18. As Spencer ran down Fourth Avenue to the finish line, she was all smiles. She veered right to trade high-fives with spectators lined three- and four-deep behind barriers, then veered to her left to high-five fans located on that side of the street, and hardly looked worse for wear after her journey of about 3.5 miles.

“I was so excited,’’ Spencer said. “It gave me more energy.’’

Lauren Fritz, 25, of Eagle River, who was coming off a runner-up finish last year but plagued by a calf injury this season, earned fourth place in 57:57 and rounded out the four women who finished in less than one hour.

Also, Ellyn Brown of Anchorage, 60 and a former 50-59 age-group record holder, seized a new standard. Her 1:08:55 was good enough for 33rd place and obliterated Elaine Nelson’s previous 60-69 age-group record (1:19:36) by more than 10 minutes.

Given the challenges that confronted Marvin, she said she prayed before the race and, during it, several times thought of Philippians 3:13 — forgetting the past and looking forward. Her mantra came in handy when she took a couple of incorrect routes on the descent and had to quickly backtrack.

In a race that rewards course knowledge and experience, having a Mount Marathon under her belt should serve Marvin well in the future, particularly when Randall and Brooks are back in the fold. As it was, Marvin’s 53:20 marked the 17th-fastest time in women’s race history.

“I’ve got a year of experience,’’ Marvin said. “I’ll learn from it, and when the big dogs come back, I’ll be ready. I’m excited for future years, to knock some time off and run a fast one.’’

Barnwell, the girls junior champion in 2008 whose runner-up finish Thursday marked her best senior placing, said she was so cold in the early going on the mountain she half-considered asking a spectator for a coat.

“It was so cold up there, it really was,’’ Barnwell said. “I started thinking, ‘If I’m this cold, maybe I should go faster.’

“I’m very happy with (55:11). I would have been happy with anything under an hour in these conditions.’’

Fritz, a nordic skier, said the cold didn’t really bother her so much as making sure she was careful with the calf injury she has been negotiating.

“When I go really hard, it gets really tight, so it’s hard to get a good push-off,’’ Fritz said.

As for Ann Spencer, nothing seemed to bother her Thursday. She blew away her modest goals — a top 15 finish and a time under 1:05.

If Spencer’s surname sounds familiar, she comes from strong athletic stock. Her father, Bill, is a former Olympic nordic skier and a Mount Marathon legend — he won the men’s race a record eight times, his men’s 1981 course record (43:21) stood until Eric Strabel shattered it Thursday and his junior record (24:30) dates back 40 years to 1973. Ann’s mother, Wendy, is a former member of the U.S. Ski Team.

“Ann killed it — she’s a Spencer,’’ Fritz said.

Ann Spencer said she found herself over-trained in her skiing workouts and backed off considerably in the last couple weeks. That left her refreshed Thursday, when she realized she was doing well because she stuck with the 50-59 age-group record-holder and eventual seventh-place finisher on the climb.

“I knew I was doing decent because I was with Sheryl Loan, and she’s bad-ass,’’ Spencer said.

Like Marvin and Barnwell, Spencer was ecstatic over her result.

“I’m thrilled,’’ she said.

 

Find Doyle Woody’s blog at adn.com/hockeyblog or call him at 257-4335.

 

 

 

Women's Mount Marathon race results
Doyle Woody
Anchorage Daily News / adn.com