Mount Marathon runner Michael LeMaitre was in good shape before his disappearance Wednesday evening, according to race officials quoted in a Monday statement.
The Seward Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the grueling Independence Day footrace up and down the mountain, released a timeline of events which led to an extensive air and ground search for LeMaitre that was suspended by state troopers Saturday night. A scaled-back search by the Seward Fire Department and volunteers continued Monday for the 66-year-old runner, who was last seen about 200 feet from the top of the mountain.
According to the chamber, a race timing crew stationed at the top of the mountain began its descent about 5:45 p.m. The lead timer, who was not named in the statement, spoke with LeMaitre at about 6 p.m. when he was nearing the mountaintop.
"The timer has reported that Mr. LeMaitre verbally confirmed that he wanted to continue," chamber officials wrote Monday. "He looked good, and did not demonstrate any sign of distress or physical or emotional concern, and was moving slowly and steadily up the mountain. The timer pointed out the top and suggested that if the runner so chose, he should complete the 200 feet to the top and then continue down the descending trail, near where the timer was during the verbal exchange. The timing crew continued down the trail, as they had been on the mountain for ten hours, and did not deem there to be a need to further assist the runner."
At about 6 p.m., a race committee member spoke with LeMaitre’s wife and told her that if she hadn’t seen her husband within 90 minutes then she should call for help. She called the race committee at about 8 p.m. Wednesday, alerting officials that her husband had not returned.
The chamber said the race board of directors is looking at new policies for the race next year, including having a sweep of the mountain with fresh volunteers after the race is over. Another idea is to have participants reach certain points in the race by a certain time.
“If participants have not reached a certain spot in the race by a certain time, then their bibs are taken away and they’re turned around.” Cindy Clock with the Seward chamber said, explaining the proposed policy. “That seems like something we could put in place.”
The chamber's board of directors is helping in the search for LeMaitre, which didn’t find anything new Monday. Volunteers plan to continue Tuesday; local officials say anyone who wants to volunteer should call 224-3445, and meet at the Seward fire station wearing appropriate clothes at about 9 a.m.
Email Rebecca Palsha