Christy Marvin wins Mount Marathon for third career title

Marvin shared the victorious day with her son Coby, who won the boys junior title.

SEWARD — Christy Marvin’s third career win at the 95th Mount Marathon was both surprising and sweet.

Surprising in that Marvin, who turns 43 later this summer, said she had no presumption of victory.

And sweet, because she was able to share the win with her son Coby, who took home the top spot in the junior boys race.

Marvin passed fellow Palmer runner Meg Inokuma on the downhill to win the women’s race Tuesday in a time of 52 minutes, 52 seconds.

“The older I get, the less I expect to win, so it’s pretty special,” she said. “And pretty special for me to have won the same day my son did.”

[Our favorite photos from the 2023 Mount Marathon race in Seward]

The conditions on the mountain were muddy as rain came down for much of the race.

“These were the worst conditions I’ve ever raced in,” Marvin said. “By far the muddiest and probably one of the coldest up top too.”


[On a muddy day, no record for David Norris but a fourth Mount Marathon title]

Inokuma, 43, a skilled and relentless climber, led the race at the turn and finished second in 53:07.

In her first attempt last year, Inokuma finished fourth.

“Last year I made a lot of mistakes,” she said. “And this year my goal was to not make as many mistakes, and I didn’t.”

Marvin said she knew Inokuma would be strong to the top but considered herself among the fastest In the field going down.

“I just tried to stay within myself,” she said.

The Seward streets were lined with fans as Inokuma and Marvin came down the final stretch. And regardless who ended up on top, they were going to take the mantle as the second-oldest winner in the race’s history. That distinction ended up going to Marvin. The race’s oldest winner was Grace Hoeman, who won in 1968 at age 46.

“Christy and I always joke about (being) the Palmer oldies,” Inokuma said.

Seward sensation Denali Strabel, who now lives in Palmer, finished in third with a time of 54:21. She also had the fastest time down the mountain at 12:50.

Marvin’s other victories were in 2013 and 2016.

She said sharing a victorious day with her son will be her enduring memory from her third win.

“It’s really special,” she said. “I was just surprised it happened today.”


Marvin, Boonstra win junior races

The question in the boys junior race wasn’t necessarily who but what — as in what will the finish time be?

After winning last year in convincing fashion, Palmer’s Coby Marvin was a strong favorite to repeat. And after posting a time in 2022 that was within a minute of Bill Spencer’s 1973 record of 24:30, many race observers believed Marvin would have a legit shot at the record in 2023.

Poor trail conditions Tuesday all but snubbed out that possibility. Still, Marvin cruised to a win with a time of 26:39.

“It was super muddy,” he said. “I just couldn’t go as fast as I wanted to.”

Despite a slower time than last year, the 16-year-old had a positive outlook on the race as he won a second straight title.

“Pray it doesn’t rain, and if it does, just go with it,” he said.


Marvin also finished second in 2021 and will have another crack at the junior record next summer as a 17-year-old.

Soldotna High standout Tania Boonstra was first to the turn in 2022, only to be caught and passed by eventual winner Rose Conway on the return portion of the race.

But Tuesday, Boonstra made sure that didn’t happen again. She once again cruised in the uphill portion and blew away the field with a time of 34:18.

“It definitely felt good,” she said. “I’m like ‘I was right there. I’ve got to do it this time.’ ”

She knew that the uphill portion would be key with the muddy conditions forcing runners to be more conservative on the downhill portion.

“I know I’m usually stronger on the uphill than the downhill,” she said. “I was really trying to push hard on the uphill so I’d have a little gap on the downhill.”


At age 15, Boonstra will have a chance to repeat her junior title in 2024. Conway finished runner-up with a time of 36:40.

Chris Bieri

Chris Bieri is the sports and entertainment editor at the Anchorage Daily News.