Christy Marvin, one of the top mountain and endurance runners in Alaska, is in the midst of a summer in which she’s captured titles at both Mount Marathon and the Crow Pass Crossing.
However, she aims to do more than just collect medals and annual bragging rights with her impressive performances up and down mountains and through the wilderness.
“I hope that my running does more than just stack up wins for me,” Marvin said. “I hope that I’m able to make a positive influence in others’ lives and in the youth around me, and just give people some positive encouragement through my running success and the fact that it comes through my faith in Christ.”
She feels like her faith is a “huge asset” and a major source of motivation when she’s running competitively.
Prior to races, Marvin has a tradition where she meditates on a particular Scripture from the Bible that she draws strength from — what she calls “power verses.”
For this year’s Crow Pass Crossing, her power verse of choice was from the Book of Mark, 9:23.
“All things are possible for those who believe,” Marvin paraphrased. “I just always try to pick a verse that kind of helps me through my races.”
She said the feedback she ‘s received from those who find out about the practice has been incredibly positive, and often sparks a conversation.
“It makes me feel good at the end of the day that I’m able to help inspire others,” Marvin said. “I now have people that come and ask me and say, ‘What’s your power verse for today? What are you going to be thinking about when you’re running? I want to think about that too.’ ”
She’s even had kids come up to her and say that they’re going to start finding their own power verses to think about during their races.
“The wins are important, but more important to me is the positive influence I can make on the youth and the other competitors around me,” Marvin said.
This summer marked her eighth straight victory at the Crow Pass Crossing race, tying Olympian Scott Patterson for the second longest number of victories in its 38-year history. She now trails only Nancy Pease, who won the race nine times.
“It’s fun to break records and set new standards, but in recent years, I’ve had fun trying to bring others along with me and, in essence, raise the level of the whole field,” Marvin said. “I really want to see what working together with other women can do for (all) of us.”
In her previous victories running the Crow Pass Crossing, after taking off from the starting line, she’d find herself in “no woman’s land” before too long. This year, she enjoyed some stiffer-than-usual competition from second-place finisher Denali Strabel.
“It was fun this year to have another lady with me for the majority of the race,” Marvin said. “It wasn’t until about 9 miles from the finish that she kind of fell off the face a little bit, but up until that point, we were able to run together and cross the rivers and streams together.”
Passion for mountain running runs in the family
Christy and her husband, Ben, who won the men’s race at this year’s Crow Pass Crossing, try to train together as much as they can. Due to his work schedule, Ben’s primary partner is their oldest son, Coby Marvin. Coby is 16 years old and has won the junior boys Mount Marathon race the past two years.
“It’s been fun to see the two of them take off and push each other,” Christy Marvin said. “He’s pretty tough, so he makes a good training partner for my husband for sure.”
Earlier this year, Coby won one of the men’s open Grand Prix Mountain Running races at Government Peak, besting the rest of the field — which included his father.
Coby said they have a “pretty good training relationship” and it is fun to get to train together because they’re “so similarly paced.”
“It’s just a family thing,” he said. “We’ve always grown up in the mountains running around having fun, so (I) started doing races when I was little and I’ve always kind of liked it.”
Both of his parents played pivotal roles in igniting the spark that has become a fiery passion for mountain running.
“I really like being in the mountains too, and I feel close to God when I’m in the mountains,” Coby said.
His mother said they’ve instilled a strong sense of faith in all of their children. Coby prays while racing, and while he doesn’t pick a different power verse for each race, he still has a go-to Scripture that motivates him.
“Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint,” he quoted from Isaiah 40:30-31.
He competes in track and field, cross-country running and Nordic skiing at Colony High, and was a member of the 2022-23 squads that won team state championships in the two running sports.
“It was pretty fun to be on varsity for both of the state championships for track and cross country, and to see Colony do so well compared to the Anchorage schools,” Coby said.
While mountain running is his first love, he’ll likely pursue Nordic skiing as a college sport instead because he believes there may be more opportunities for him in that discipline.
“I really like mountain running, but there’s not that many teams for that (in the Lower 48),” Coby said.
He’ll be three months shy of the age requirement to participate in next year’s Crow Pass Crossing, but hopes that his parents and the race organizers will allow him to participate and compete with them.