Christy Marvin wins record-breaking 7th Equinox Marathon, first-time marathoner from Juneau takes men’s title

Published: Sep. 16, 2023 at 7:24 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The marvelous Christy Marvin continues to impress.

As of Saturday, no man or woman has won more Equinox Marathons than the 43-year old Palmer resident.

Clocking in at 3 hours, 19 minutes and 53 seconds, Marvin won her record-breaking seventh Equinox Marathon on a beautiful fall Saturday in Fairbanks.

With victories in 2013-14, 2016-19 and 2023, Marvin surpasses six-time champions Stan Justice, Bob Murphy and Matias Saari.

While she was the first woman to the finish line, just getting to the starting line may have been the biggest challenge.

“I had some issues with injury and a little bit of illness coming into the race this time,” Marvin told KTVF after finishing more than four minutes ahead of the runner-up. ”Getting to the start line was the number one goal. And then once I made it here it was really, like I said at the start, running very conservatively the first half so that I had the energy and the legs and the stamina to finish it off.”

Marvin also saw mountain running victories in the Crow Pass Crossing and Mount Marathon in July.

The Equinox Marathon, first held in 1963, saw its 60th running this year with thousands of participants take off from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Troth Yedda’ campus. The race is considered one of the toughest traditional marathons in the world. Yes, compared to the likes of Mount Marathon which may be considered more grueling, but that race is 3.1 miles compared to the Equinox’s conventional 26.2-miler and features an elevation gain — and loss — of 3,825 feet up and over Ester Dome.

″It is always the hardest section for sure, particularly for rookie racers,” Marvin said. “The very first year that I ran this race, the out and back for me was an absolute nightmare — it was far harder than expected. But now that I have run it so many times, I really know what to be prepared for, I know it is going to hurt no matter what.”

Fairbanks’ Shalane Frost, who ran with Marvin for much of the race, took second at 3:23:57, while Kayleigh Eddy took bronze at 3:32:57.

In the men’s race, Zack Bursell shocked the field. The 30-year old cross-country running coach at Juneau Douglas High School says he’s never completed a marathon before. Not only did he conquer the tough Equinox Marathon, he dominated, taking first place in his first attempt at 2:57:07 — more than seven minutes ahead of runner-up.

”I actually have tried a marathon before quite a few years ago, but I dropped out, it was horrible,” Bursell said after the race. “This time I just came in a lot more prepared. [I’m] feeling confident, after this I’d like to do more long distance trail races — maybe a 50-miler, maybe one day a 100-miler, I don’t know. I’m into it.”

Anchorage’s Mike Rabe and Chad Trammell trailed Bursell, who was the only sub-3-hour finisher in the running of the historic race.

”I really like the hills, the steep up, the steep down, I knew I just had to make it to that big climb and once we made it there I was pretty confident that I could make a move and make people hurt,” Bursell added. “Just tried to stick to what I feel like I am comfortable with.”

Full results from the 60th Equinox Marathon can be found here.