Athletes of the Week: The four winners of Mount Marathon 2023

Published: Jul. 7, 2023 at 3:10 PM AKDT
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SEWARD, Alaska (KTUU) - The 95th running of Mount Marathon held nothing back in terms of weather and conditions, with mud, poor footing, and wind playing a major factor.

However, those challenges didn’t prevent some impressive performances from the winners of the four divisions.

Junior Girls Champion - Tania Boonstra

After a runner-up finish last year, Kenai’s Tania Boonstra boosted up the standings with a first-place finish at 34 minutes and 18 seconds, a comfortable 2:22 ahead of the next competitor.

“I feel really good, I mean last year I was so close to it, and this year I did it, so I feel really happy,” Boonstra said after the victory. “I think this time, I really tried to push on the uphill because I’m not as strong on the downhill, so I think that really helped me.

“My competition is really good, I know that. I knew it was going to be hard and that I was going to have to work for it.”

Boonstra comes from a family of athletic success, as her older sister Riana is a former champion of the junior girls race, and her father Todd a four-time winner of the adult men’s race.

“I just feel like afterward you feel so accomplished, like ‘Yeah I just did that,” she said. “Coming right off the cliffs and everyone is just there cheering, it feels amazing.”

Junior Boys Champion - Coby Marvin

For the second consecutive year, 16-year-old Coby Marvin was the first junior to reach downtown Seward and cross the finish line; this year crossing at 26:39, a solid 1:40 ahead of runner-up Vebjorn Flagstad.

“It was fun,” Marvin said. “I was like, ‘Lord, if you want it to be muddy, at least make it epic,’ so it was epic, it was a mud mess.”

Marvin said the rainy conditions set up a race where those with experience of the fastest routes would prevail.

“Right out of the roots, I came up behind one guy and then passed him within 20 yards,” he recalled. “It’s one of my favorites because it is short, fast, and steep, and it is always fun to come down the road with everyone cheering and come out here with my family to camp and train.”

Women’s Champion Christy Marvin

Christy Marvin won her third Mount Marathon title, and first in seven years, when she crossed the finish line at 52:52.

At 42 years old, she became the second oldest woman ever to win the race. Marvin has placed in the top three in all 10 Mount Marathons she has entered.

“Just a lot of excitement and thankfulness that it all panned out and everything came together,” Marvin said after the award ceremony. “This year’s course was a mess, honestly it was worse than I have ever raced it before and this is my 10th year ... It’s amazing, honestly, people ask how I do it as how I do it as such an old lady, and it is just — I feel like if you never stop trying, pushing, striving for your best, you can pull out big days even if you’re older.”

Men’s Champion David Norris

Mount Marathon course record holder (41:26 in 2016) David Norris had enough of a cushion down the stretch to high-five fans as he clocked in at 44:51 to win his fourth men’s race.

Norris has competed in four Mount Marathons and has won all four. He was entered in the 2022 race before injuring his foot in a bike accident.

“I’m just stoked to have pulled this off and be healthy,” Norris said in the finish line chute. “I was a little discouraged early on because I took, basically two wrong turns, had a little bit of a ’What am I doing?’ ... then I kind of found my groove and enjoyed the race.”

Norris said with a race record out of reach due to the muddy conditions, he made sure to take time on the stretch run down the road to enjoy the moment.

“I feel like some years, I’ve focused and ran straight through the line, then I’m like, ‘I’m in Seward, this is Mount Marathon, I should enjoy it,’ and hopefully get some of those high fives, get those kids excited and they do it themselves.

“I think it’s big for me, and last year I was really aiming for this race and I hurt myself and couldn’t do it, so to make it down here, pull it off, and be with my family, it is really special,” he said.