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At Mat Peak Challenge, the Kopsack family enjoys another victory and so does Christy Marvin

  • Author: Anchorage Daily News
  • Updated: August 6
  • Published August 5

Lyon Kopsack heads to victory in Saturday's Matanuska Peak Challenge, joining his dad and his uncle as a race champion. (Photo by Eric Strabel).

Lyon Kopsack burst from behind the scenes to front-and-center at this year’s Matanuska Peak Challenge.

A longtime volunteer for the race — co-founded and directed by his dad, Lance Kopsack, and his uncle, Braun Kopsack — Lyon Kopsack became an entrant last weekend and posted one of the fastest times in the history of the 32-year-old race.

Kopsack and perennial women’s champion Christy Marvin claimed victories in the torturous race on Lazy Mountain and Matanuska Peak. Runners ascended and descended both peaks twice, and by the time they were done they had traveled 14 miles, climbed 10,000 feet and descended 10,000 feet.

A regular at many mountain races, Kopsack, 24, hadn’t competed in the family-operated Mat Peak Challenge since he was a teenager nearly 10 years ago. He is the third Kopsack to win the race — and the fastest.

By finishing in 2 hours, 59 minutes, 57 seconds, Kopsack became the third person to break the three-hour barrier, joining Eric Strabel and Ben Marvin. Strabel set the record of 2:55:43 in 2012, the same year Marvin finished second in 2:58:12. Strabel also dipped below three hours in 2013 and 2016.

Kopsack beat Marvin by nearly five minutes on Sunday to join his dad and his uncle as a race champion. Lance and Braun combined to win the first 11 editions of the Mat Peak Challenge, including the 1995 race, when they tied for first place. Lance, a five-time winner, had the previous fastest Kopsack time of 3:07:54, recorded in 1997.

Christy Marvin has the trail to herself Saturday in the Matanuska Peak Challenge. (Photo by Eric Strabel)

Christy Marvin won the women’s race and placed seventh overall in a field of 62 finishers with a time of 3:32:34. She was about five minutes faster than second-place Meg Inokuma (3:37:30).

That’s the fourth-fastest women’s time ever, and it gives Marvin the five fastest women’s times in race history. She set the record of 3:26:32 in 2016.

Marvin has collected six victories in nine years to become Mat Peak’s third six-time champion. The others are both men — Braun Kopsack and Harlow Robinson, who won his consecutively from 2004-2009.

The race marked the first mountain race of the summer in Southcentral Alaska. Usually dozens of events are held each summer, but the COVID-19 pandemic canceled many races and turned others into virtual events.

A second mountain race is on the schedule later this month — the Aug. 29 Kesugi Ridge Traverse in Denali State Park.

Matanuska Peak Challenge Results

Men — 1) Lyon Kopsack, 2:59:57; 2) Ben Marvin, 3:04:50; 3) Chris Maus, 3:16:36; 4) William Zenker, 3:18:11; 5) Josh Taylor, 3:21:24; 6) Christopher Kirk, 3:24:54; 7) Ali Papillon, 3:31:23; 8) Bodhidharma Gross, 3:47:59; 9) Roman Gross, 3:48:02; 10) Daniel Linnell, 3:48:39; 11) Pyper Dixon, 3:56:35; 12) Kenny Regan, 3:56:47; 13) Charlie Procknow, 3:57:08; 14) Derek Nottingham, 3:58:13; 15) Russell Johanson, 3:59:34; 16) Craig Taylor, 3:59:55; 17) Galen Dossin, 4:02:18; 18) Troy Larson, 4:02:27; 19) Duane Zitta,4:12:12; 20) Enad Rentek, 4:14:14; 21) Mason Wick, 4:14:35; 22) Ethan Copp, 4:16:36; 23) Greg Michaelson, 4:16:52; 24) James Chiang, 4:20:02; 25) Mark Brady, 4:23:12; 26) Dakota Thompson, 4:26:25; 27) Paul Pletnikoff, 4:29:38; 28) Will Steffe, 4:29:52; 29) Jack Ginter, 4:29:54; 30) Eric Fjelstad, 4:36:09; 31) Josh Hejl, 4:40:50; 32) Tony Demarco, 4:47:34; 33) Andrew Dennis, 4:50:32; 34) Dorian Gross, 4:52:57; 35) Todd Henry, 4:53:36; 36) Alan Abel, 4:55:20; 37) Benjamin Tichner, 4:57:10; 38) Jim Murray, 5:05:38; 39) Nathaniel King, 5:10:12; 40) Jonny Hughes, 5:15:15; 41) John Digiovanni, 5:23:46; 42) Alan Quintero, 5:23:50; 43) Brian Fish, 5:32:03.

Women — 1) Christy Marvin, 3:32:34; 2) Meg Inokuma, 3:37:30; 3) Kala Maus, 3:50:14; 4) Shauna Severson, 3:52:05; 5) April McAnly, 4:10:35; 6) Sophie Wright, 4:19:26; 7) Kailyn Mcgrath, 4:23:47; 8) Alejandra Legate, 4:27:10; 9) Emily Evans, 4:27:36; 10) Clare Cook, 4:31:20; 11) Alina Rice, 4:32:17; 12) Melissa Templin, 4:41:06; 13) Brenda Davila, 4:46:00; 14) April Lewis, 4:46:23; 15) Carrie Koso, 4:50:43; 16) Maggie Hejl, 4:51:04; 17) Hannah Lies, 5:07:16; 18) Brienne Keizer, 5:35:21; 19) Leah Legate, 5:41:01.

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