The 37th annual running of the Crow Pass Crossing was originally scheduled to take place last weekend but weather conditions forced the 22.5-mile wilderness marathon to be postponed by a week. As a result of the delay, a race that was initially scheduled to have 180 participants had its number reduced by nearly half to 80.
Nevertheless, that didn’t stop multi-time defending champions Scott Patterson of Anchorage and Christy Marvin of Palmer from extending their respective winning streaks.
Patterson finished first in the men’s division with an official time of 3:04:07, marking his eighth win in nine races — and his sixth consecutive victory. He’s one of the most decorated multi-sport endurance athletes in Alaska history as both a runner and cross-country skier.
“The brush was a little bit higher and the mud was a little deeper,” Patterson said. “I raced hard but it wasn’t a fast course this year. It was still fun though”
He said he enjoys this particular race because of the challenging terrain and conditions that the course forced runners to endure and overcome.
“It’s engaging the whole way,” Patterson said. “You’re always working through the brush or the mud or the corners and it keeps you focused the whole time.”
Patterson, who skied in the Winter Olympics in February, is currently devoting most of his time to training for cross-country skiing so the postponement didn’t really disrupt his normal regime around this time of year.
Despite the extra week of preparation, Patterson was still dealing with a little fatigue in his legs after running the Cirque Series at Alyeska last weekend.
He broke the men’s and overall record for the race last year with a time of 2:50:05, and even though he didn’t meet or beat that mark this year, he still holds nearly half of the top 10 finishes in the nearly four decade history of the event.
“This one wasn’t my fastest but it’s always dependent on the course,” Patterson said. “It was a hard one out there today.”
As expected, he ran into but didn’t get too close to some wildlife on his way to the finish line including a pair of moose 10 miles in and two different black bear encounters.
It didn’t take him long to leave the rest of his competition behind once the race began. He said that he distanced himself fairly quickly and that his APU Ski Center teammate, Ari Endestad, kept up the longest for the first five or 10 minutes.
“Up the hill up to the pass is definitely my strength so it is where I pull away every year so I was kind of expecting to run solo the whole way,” Patterson said.
Marvin finished first in the women’s division for the seventh year in a row but this year’s result was especially significant and impressive because she set a new course record with an official mark of 3:25:52.
“It feels really great and will feel even better in a little while when I’ve recovered,” Marvin said. “It was a tough day out there, I know I was on a course record pace at the river and after we had a bear detour, I was pretty certain that I’d lost it because we took ... minutes and it took a lot of energy.”
[Read full results here]
She likes to pick a biblical verse to draw strength from before every race she runs and prior to running this year’s Crow Pass Crossing, she chose Mark 9:23.
“All things are possible for those who believe,” Marvin quoted from the Bible. “I just had to keep believing that it was possible and knowing that pain is temporary, I wouldn’t regret trying later.”
The 41-year-old was elated that it all came together and that all her hard work and training paid off in a major way and is glad to be a part of history.
Her husband, Ben, who ran alongside her for most of the race and finished a few seconds after her was one of 10 participants that pulled off the “Burly Double” after having run the Matanuska Peak Challenge the day before on Saturday.
“I’m super proud of him and he actually got the Burly Triple that most people don’t know about because we were out sheep hunting for a week before,” Marvin said. “We got back on Friday night, unpacked, washed his clothes, got up and he ran Mat Peak.”
In consecutive days, Ben Marvin finished third overall in both the Matanuska Peak Challenge and Crow Pass Crossing, where he also finished second to Patterson in the men’s division with an unofficial time of 3:26:00.
The Marvins planned to run both races together prior to the postponement of the Crow Pass Crossing but Marvin decided to forgo the Matanuska Peak Challenge and devote all of her energy to trying to break another record.
“I have the course record in Mat Peak and I wanted to get this course record,” Marvin said. “This is one that I have been chasing for a very long time.”
She came close to setting the record the first year she ran the race but was 20 seconds off and hadn’t gotten that close again despite her five straight first-place finishes until this year.
“Nobody ever sets a record on their own,” Marvin said. “There’s family and friends and race directors and volunteers that pave the way and we couldn’t do it without all of them.”