Matt Novakovich of Anchorage, who trained manically on a treadmill he could set to an gut-busting incline of 40 percent, captured Wednesday's Mount Marathon, a 3.5-mile race up and down the imposing mountain that shadows Seward.

He finished in 44 minutes, 7 seconds, the fourth-fastest time in the 85-year-history of the July 4 race that began as a bar bet in Seward and morphed in one of Alaska's top athletic events.

Other than victories earlier this summer in two uphill-only races that serve as run-ups to Mount Marathon -- Bird Ridge and Government Peak -- more than 85 percent of Novakovich's training had taken place indoors.

No negotiating muddy trails. No dodging wildlife. No dealing with weather, loose rocks, hidden roots.

Instead, Novakovich, 38, the fifth-place Mount Marathon finisher last year, headed to the garage of his Anchorage home and fired up his trainer.

"I used to put phone books under the trainer (to boost the incline)," Novakovich said in the days leading up to his victory, "but I've been working with the manufacturer (which he declines to name) to develop a trainer that allows me to up it to 40 percent."

"I've shared the idea with some people lately," Novakovich said. "A lot of them think it's funny. 'Why would you want to bother doing that,' they say. 'Let's go out on the mountain.'"

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