Mount Marathon Race

The most challenging running event of the year

The Mount Marathon Race every July 4th in Seward, Alaska is the largest running event of the year in the entire state. It is a hard-core run up the very steep 3,022 foot Mount Marathon. The starting line is at the base of the mountain in the beautiful seaside town of Seward. The Mount Marathon Race record 42:55 set in 2013 by Eric Strabel. The race has never been cancelled due to weather so when it rains it is muddy and treacherous. The average race speed uphill is 2 mph. Average speed downhill is 12 mph. It is not uncommon for the racers who finish to cross the finish line injured or bleeding and covered in mud.


Mount Marathon Race Rules of Conduct:

Rules of Conduct
◾No climbing aids.
◾No shoes with metal cleats.
◾No identifying markers on the trail to guide runners.
◾No assistance on the trail except for first aid and dispensing of water.
◾No unfair or unsafe acts.
◾No headphones or listening devices.
◾Every runner must give way to a runner shouting “trail” in the act of passing.
◾Any runner still on the trail from an earlier race shall give way to runners in the current race.
◾Applicants may not falsify any information on the application form.
◾Participants in the senior races must show a valid photo I.D. when picking up their bib or face disqualification.
◾Participants may not trade bibs or provide their bibs and race identification to other individuals.
◾Runners must have their race bib with embedded timing chip when crossing the finish line.

Mount Marathon Race History:

The first unofficial Mount Marathon Race was run sometime before 1915. The initial plan was to run from that spot, to the top of the mountain and back, in under an hour. Legend says that one runner decided to see if he could do it. He finished in one hour and twenty minutes. Since Seward is a port town, every arriving ship had its challenger who wanted to beat the one hour bet. This may have been how the race evolved. Mount Marathon was first run as an organized race in 1915. The 2015 running is the 88th Mount Marathon Race. The Mount Marathon Race is one of a number of races believed to be the second oldest footrace in America.

Race Map:

Click map for a full-sized copy of the Mount Marathon Race Map.


Seward is situated on Resurrection Bay on the east coast of the Kenai Peninsula, 127 miles south of Anchorage on the Seward Highway.


Seward is unique among most small Alaskan communities in that it has road access in the Seward Highway, a National Scenic Byway and All-American Road, which also brings it bus service. Seward is also the southern terminus of the Alaska Railroad. This keeps the port busy with freight coming on and off the trains, but also makes Seward a primary end point for north-bound cruise ships. Cruise ship passengers get off the boats and take the train farther north to Denali or other Alaskan attractions.


11 hotels/motels, 37 bed and breakfasts, 25 lodges/cabins, 20 restaurants/cafes/snack bars.