The junior contest in the 84th annual Mount Marathon Race in Seward produced a new boys winner and a returning girls champion, getting the grueling Independence Day footrace off to an exciting start.
Miles Knotek of Moose Pass, 15, led the boys field by a wide margin, making it to the finish line with an unofficial time of 26 minutes and 18 seconds. Knotek kept up a strong pace down the home stretch along Seward’s 4th Avenue, alone with no competition in sight.
"I've been working for this for a really long time, and I've been wanting it forever," said Knotek. "I'm really happy"
Soldotna runner Allison Ostrander had little company from other girls on her win in the junior race, and hit the line first with an unofficial time of 30:32. The victory is 14-year-old Ostrander’s third consecutive triumph in the race.
"It's really fun running next to those hunky guys and running with them, " said the loquacious Ostrander. "It was funny."
In subsequent events, the women’s race began with a crowded field at 11:15 a.m., but ended as a contest between two Anchorage Olympians. Kikkan Randall edged ahead of fellow skier Holly Brooks on 4th Avenue to claim her first Mount Marathon triumph on a time of 52:03, with Brooks clocking in at 52:22.
The men's race at 3 p.m. saw Eric Strabel emerge from the pack on the downhill, overtaking race leaders Brent Knight and Mark Iverson to cross the finish line with a time of 44:40.