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LeMaitre family still combing Seward's Mount Marathon

Craig Medred

All hope is gone of finding missing Seward Mount Marathon racer Michael LeMaitre still alive, but for his family the search goes on. Daughter MaryAnne LeMaitre from Moab, Utah, continues to comb the slopes of the mountain above Seward though the official search was long ago called off.

"I am still here in Seward searching for my dad, along with many others here," she reported in a Wednesday email. "The residents of Seward and our family friends are still deeply concerned about my dad still being out there."

Sixty-six-year-old Michael was last seen on the Fourth of July about 200 feet below Race Point, the turn-around for the popular Mount Marathon race. The weather was cold and wet. LeMaitre was the last man in the race. The race officials were heading down the mountain to warm up. He told them he planned to loop around the top of the race course and follow them down. Wearing only a t-shirt and running shorts, he was wholly unequipped to spend a night out on the mountain. But he was never seen again. Extensive searching found nothing.

MaryAnne, who posts daily updates about her search on her Facebook page, said she continues to hope for some clue as to where he dad might have gone. "Once we have something to go on, there are people waiting for the call to go out and investigate," she said.

The Seward Fire Department has promised assistance if there is even a hint of where exactly on the mountain Michael might have gone. The summer vegetation is extremely thick, and search officials agree it is pointless to try to search entire mountain now when searchers can often see things only a few feet away on the ground. They need to seriously narrow the size of the search before throwing large resources at it, they said.

MaryAnne's Facebook page noted she and others were looking for signs of bears, which some think might locate Michael's body by treating it as carrion. "Had two scary cliff-climbing moments on the mtn.," she added in her post.

Officials continue to worry about volunteer searchers getting injured on a mountain that this year graphically illustrated its danger. Racer Matt Kenney from Anchorage fell and was critically injured. He remains at the Providence Medical Center while his family is making plans to move him to The Craig Hospital in Denver, a long-term, acute-care hospital specializing in the rehabilitation of patients with traumatic brain injury. Daily updates on Kinney's condition are available in the notes section of his Facebook page.

Contact Craig Medred at craig(at)alaskadispatch.com