With a stable of strong contenders leading the field at the men's Mount Marathon Race Monday, it wasn’t until the race's final minutes that a winner emerged from the pack.
While Brent Knight and Mark Iverson were reported in the lead at Marathon’s summit, race veteran Eric Strabel was the first man to reach 4th Avenue, overtaking them on the downhill to win the day in 44 minutes and 40 seconds. Knight and Iverson were right behind Strabel, at 44:58 and 45:18 respectively.
"Twelve attempts before your first win," said Strabel, who had finished second each of the last two years. "I don't know how many people where it takes that long to win."
Strabel’s victory comes after he took second place last year to University of Alaska Anchorage ski coach Trond Flagstad -- and two years after Knight was in the lead, but collapsed on the final stretch. Matias Saari’s time of 46:04 and Matt Novakovich’s 46:44 rounded out the top five.
Knight said he and Strabel were able to separate themselves from the pack by taking a different approach.
"We went straight up the chute, not the roots this year, and we came out 15 meters in front of everybody else," Knight said.
The men’s race followed two other events on the mountain, including the running of the junior race at 9:30 a.m. on a beautiful summer day. Miles Knotek of Moose Pass and Allison Ostrander of Soldotna took this year’s boys and girls titles, on times of 26:18 and 30:32 respectively.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.