SEWARD — What started out as a joke for Allie McLaughlin ended up as a record.
The world champion mountain runner from Colorado Springs, Colorado, blew past the rest of the field Monday, breaking the Mount Marathon women’s record by 39 seconds.
McLaughlin’s time of 47 minutes, nine seconds was also more than five minutes faster than her closest competitors.
And while McLaughlin’s win was not surprising given her championship history, the race record went from a punchline to a serious goal.
“Throughout the week people would ask me ‘Oh what are you going for?’ McLaughlin said. “And I would jokingly say, ‘Yeah I’m going for the record.’ Totally 100% not serious. Then it started clicking in my head and I thought, that’d be cool. But I never thought I’d be able to go fast enough on the downhill to hold it.”
“And just did what I thought I could do and I got it.”
Emilie Forsberg’s run of 47 minutes, 48 seconds in 2015 was the previous record.
The win and record on Mount Marathon was important for McLaughlin, whose resume includes winning the World Long Distance Mountain Running Championship in 2014.
“I dearly love it,” she said. “You’re not a mountain runner until you race down this. So now I feel like I’ve entered the club.”
McLaughlin knew she could make time on the uphill portion of the race, but the downhill is where she thought she might be vulnerable.
“I thought I was going slow, but I just thought don’t stop, keep moving forward and you’ll get down,” she said.
“I just try to go as fast as I can up so I can build a bigger lead. I don’t want to lose it on the down.”
The crowds of people along Jefferson Street and 4th Avenue cheered feverishly as McLaughlin bolted down the final stretch when it was clear she may have a shot at the record.
Finishing in the top 10 behind McLaughlin was a who’s who of Alaska’s top women runners. Seward’s Hannah Lafleur, who won the 2019 and 2021 races, finished in second with a time of 52:35. Christy Marvin, herself a 2-time winner, finished third at 52:45.
Palmer’s Meg Inokuma placed fourth, Anchorage’s Klaire Rhodes placed fifth, Olympic skier Rosie Frankowski finished sixth and Moose Pass runner Ruby Linquist placed seventh.
For Lafleur, who was a minute off her personal record which she was aiming to break, the race is showcase both for Seward, but for its runners.
“It’s the day that Seward looks forward to the whole rest of the year,” she said. “For Seward’s running community it’s something we get to encourage each other on and build each other up for. We go out finding runs and practice different parts of the mountain together.
“It’s just such a focal point in our running community. It means a lot to all of us and the support I feel from that running community is why this day is so special.”
Lafleur, who completed her fifth Mount Marathon, said it’s also inspirational to see veteran runners still competing at a high level.
“Seeing some of the women who have been doing well here for years and years (is great),” she said. “I was getting close to the top and Najeeby Quinn was right there with me and I was just like ‘heck yeah’ and obviously Christy Marvin has been doing this race forever and has been well forever. It’s cool to see with that longevity and that’s what I aspire to.”