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Thread: Mt. Marathon Hike

  1. #1
    Member COtoAK's Avatar
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    Arrow Mt. Marathon Hike


    Mt. Marathon Trip Report 2009:
    06.18-19.09

    Introduction
    I have so much information to add here today, so I'll make a couple of my points very brief and the reason why I am doing the Mt. Marathon Race this year and then post a good deal of pictures and information regarding this years race.

    Why this race?
    July 2008, I picked up the NewsMiner while sitting with my husband drinking coffee at Starbucks and Mt. Marathon was on the cover. I pointed to the woman racing down the mountain and told my husband I was going to do it. We both laughed at that thought.
    November 2008, my brother passed away suddenly. He was young. I know that people deal with death in different ways, but I wanted to honor my brother by doing something I know that he couldn't physically do and at my own personal physical threshold.
    January 2009, I hired my running coach. Killer Coach Kel.
    February 2009, I registered for the lottery. I paid my $40 fee and I didn't think that I could make it in. I blew it off.
    April 15, 2009... the lottery results came out. I was on the www.sewardak.org website, but I didn't see my name. My son was standing next to me and I told him that it was okay... maybe next year. He just looked at me and said, "Mom. You are... you are right there... you made the lottery!" He gave me a huge hug and said, "I am so proud of you, Mom." That's when it set in. I hadn't been training. Only 28% of last year's women were able to make the lottery.

    Training, Diet, and Health
    I had already started some of my training earlier in the season, but the April 15th lottery made it more real to me. Training has been hard and grueling. My first actual day of running, I did 6.9 miles and I couldn't walk upstairs into our place. I have been running on average 3-8 miles per day, running hills on Birch Hill (which is my main hill training hill) and occasionally on Ester Dome which is also part of the Equinox Marathon Race. I take 2 days off per week from running and one day I cross train on bike. I should have started core training, but I keep procrastinating it.

    Overall, my health is okay. Everyone has some kind of minor health issues and I am no different. My health is not keeping me from this race. One thing about my health, though, is my diet. One thing I have learned from this race is that I have a VERY poor diet. I have craved to the nth degree protein like I have never craved protein before. Nuts and jerky have become 2nd nature to me. Another ODD member suggested Myoplex, but I have Herbalife, so I have been taking a protein supplement because my body has needed it. I must admit, though, that I am overweight for this race. I have tried to explain that to my running coach, but her goal for me is to get me to the top of the mountain and back down to finish. She said after this race, our next goal together will be for weight loss, and then I will personally become competitive and start running competitively. Let's be honest, though. Even being 5lbs overweight will affect your ability to run. Try multiplying that by 6-8 and that's what I am faced against.

    The Pre-Hike of Mt. Marathon
    Being originally from Seward and having previously done this race, Killer Coach Kel has explained over and over the reason why I need to hike it before racing it. I didn't understand the importance of this until I did Ester Dome in Fairbanks. I had no idea where I was going, how far the summit was, and I feared I was going to get lost coming back down. She emphasized that even though other runners will be doing the same route I will, that I needed (no matter what it took) to take a pre-trip to Seward for Mt. Marathon.
    Honestly, I didn't really have time for this. I have a life, a husband, children, a business, a youth group to attend to... on and on and on.
    I finally realized that I need to invest in me. I finally just bit the bullet, purchased my ticket from Fairbanks to Anchorage and was determined that I could hitch hike to Seward if I didn't get a rental car and just pitch a tent and walk to the trailhead.
    There was no more excuses. I just had to go and do it.

    Here it is
    After doing usual traveling issues and last minute stops in Anchorage, I was on my way to Seward at 1:30am. Watch out for that construction! I didn't make it into town until 4:58am. Of course before stopping to sleep, I have to go and see it for myself:
    Trailhead


    Notice on the sign:


    You have to walk a little ways and the actual trail starts on the right.


    For now, it was time to go to sleep. I know that I was too excited to get to the summit, but I had almost been up for 21 hours straight.
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    Need a map of the trail?
    You can find it here.
    http://www.seward.com/news-events/marathon/MMR%20map.pdf
    You better print this one out because the Chamber of Commerce had a hand drawn map and it's terrible.

    Time to get started:

    This is where it all starts...
    This is the roots trail part. This is what I am choosing to do. There are 2 other ways of starting. One is an actual, longer traversing trail and one is a directed up the chute on the left.
    I choose the roots with encouragement from my running coach.


    This is the prettiest this mountain gets.


    WATCH OUT FOR DEVILS CLUB


    This is the easiest side of this mountain. It won't get easier than this!!
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    I get to the 1/2 way point. This is where the Junior Mt. Marathon Race ends and they turn back. I had serious weather while I was doing this first hike.


    I finally got a brief view of Seward from the 1/2 way point:


    Do you see the 2 people in the picture?
    They are only about 30 yards from me.


    This trail has harder with the elements. There was rain mixed with sleet/drizzle and the wind kicked up pretty good. You have to watch your footing on this stuff because you can easily square your ankle if you aren't careful. The rocks were slick.
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  4. #4
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    Here is the summit of Mt. Marathon:
    This is the race point.


    The summit in one direction.


    The summit in the other direction.


    Cliff.
    This almost reminds me of sheep hunting.



    For those of you running this race... no snow on the mountain this year, so there will be no glassading for us.
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  5. #5
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    Here is a better real-time view of the summit:
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    You know... they say that if you aren't blood, bruised, or blistered on this mountain, you didn't work hard enough.
    I am here to agree with that theory.
    I slipped on so many rocks that this was my knee at the summit:



    It's time to turn around and go back.

    The downhill trail crosses over the uphill trail, but when you are in elements like this, you get lost easily.
    Because I didn't have a guide and this was my first time on this climb/hike... I got lost. Not just lost, but seriously lost. I was in the willows, alders, devils club and I knew that I had to get to the trail. That wasted about an hour of time on the side of the mountain.
    I finally got a break in the clouds to see Seward. I was very much off of the trail on these pictures.


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    Here is the hard part:

    THE CLIFF.
    Apparently a guy a couple of years ago fell off of this part of Mt. Marathon during the race and he broke his back. I have still yet to do the safety meeting, but I know that his story will probably be on there during the meeting.
    Here is a picture of the cliff:


    Right above the cliff is a ravine and waterfall. This is the part where you really have to watch what in the world you are doing. The best way to do it is to shimmy yourself down, holding on with hand and foot holds and then jump.


    This is where local Seward running Denali Foldager biffs it.
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    I want to be sure to add these you tube videos so that you can get an idea of how hard this race really is>>>

    This lady is doing the downhill trail. She's running, of course, but what she's not doing correct is burying her heels into the scree. This definitely looks painful to me. Excuse the language on this one.



    Here is another video of a Mt. Marathon fall.
    This is an important video. This guy looks absolutely crazy running down it, but it's really the way it is. The kids and I laughed at this video because we watched it over and over again, but now that I have experienced it and personally saw people running down this, it doesn't matter to me what they or I will look like... it's about getting down the mountain as quick and effecient as you can.



    You have to bury your heels while you are running down. It's the best way to get down quicker.
    Personally, it feels like downhill skiing to me, but without the skis. You have to control it and you have to be sure that your knees are strong enough to withstand it.
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    Final
    After doing this hike, I know that I may not be able to qualify for next year's race. Hiking Colorado 14,000ft mountains is one thing, but Alaska has different mountain features and terrain. Although my mountaineering skills went into gear, I am afraid that I had too high of hopes to be able to finish within the 3 hour mark. I don't know how all those other people do it in an hour.
    Depending on what my goals are, we will see if I decide to try the lottery again or to try for one of the auctioned positions for next year.

    I want to acknowledge those of you on the board that have ran this race and are running this race in 2 weeks. It's definitely not a race for the weary. You are going to do great, CW. You are going to finish better than what you did last year. Corn, I hope your wife is able to make it happen this year. I'll come find all of you guys while we are there.

    I want to personally thank Mr. and Mrs. cristancanoe and baby for being such a wonderfully amazing hosts while I was in Seward this round. I forgot the fish! It's okay, I'll see you guys in 2 weeks and we can have a major sockeye grill feast.
    It was some great fishing and it was a good thing I didn't catch a King. <smiles>


    Thank you to the amazing hitch hikers that I picked up in Moose Pass. You guys were a ton of fun. I'd do it again. Hopefully we will see you guys in 2 weeks as well in case we decide to take up your offer on rafting. I'd take the detour to Cooper Landing any day if you guys were my hitch hikers again!


    I want to thank my husband for being patient with me, supporting me, helping me into the truck and rubbing my legs and feet all night from climbing this mountain 2x in 2 days. I Love You.

    ...and one final thank you to the black bear that was 100ft from me. Thanks for not eating me.
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    Feelin good about it? Less than a month to go!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by hunt_ak View Post
    Feelin good about it? Less than a month to go!!
    Honestly, no.
    I know. 14 more days to go as of today.
    I think that I am more nervous about it now than what I was before I took off.
    My running coach has me thinking good thoughts. She is a huge believer on positive mental conditioning. I have to keep my chin up to be sure to finish within 3 hours. If I don't finish in 3 hours, I don't qualify for next year and according to my 2 hikes I did while I was there the last 2 days, yes... it doesn't look as if I'll be qualifying.


    Really, though... hunt_ak... I can only do as good as my legs will allow for. Now.. if I were just 30lbs less, I would be THAT much more prepared.
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    I hope Mr. COtoAK has the stretcher, bandages and wheelchair ready at the bottom.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kingfisherktn View Post
    I hope Mr. COtoAK has the stretcher, bandages and wheelchair ready at the bottom.
    Oh... he will. We have already discussed it... and the life insurance, too.
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    Quote Originally Posted by COtoAK View Post
    Oh... he will. We have already discussed it... and the life insurance, too.
    Wow! Can I add to that fund?

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    Quote Originally Posted by kingfisherktn View Post
    Wow! Can I add to that fund?
    Yes.. as long as you add him as the beneficiary, that's fine by me.
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    Quote Originally Posted by COtoAK View Post
    Yes.. as long as you add him as the beneficiary, that's fine by me.
    I guess that ruins my plan.

    Note to self: 1. Remove trip wires on running course.
    2. Try to get bribes back.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kingfisherktn View Post
    I guess that ruins my plan.

    Note to self: 1. Remove trip wires on running course.
    2. Try to get bribes back.
    You don't need trip wires when there are bears. The one that was 100ft from me scared the gazooooooos out of me. Anytime you are that close to a bear w/o bear spray or a .270 just feels not so good to say the least.
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    Are you already lining of your excuses?

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    Quote Originally Posted by COtoAK View Post
    Final
    I want to personally thank Mr. and Mrs. cristancanoe and baby for being such a wonderfully amazing hosts while I was in Seward this round. I forgot the fish! It's okay, I'll see you guys in 2 weeks and we can have a major sockeye grill feast.
    It was some great fishing and it was a good thing I didn't catch a King. <smiles>

    .

    Sorry we ate it all

    I know you will do great during the real race. You will be well rested, hydrated, muscles ready, and you will know where your going! I will bet you will come in under 3hrs!

    See you later!

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    Quote Originally Posted by kingfisherktn View Post
    Are you already lining of your excuses?
    Hahahah!!! You noticed! Well... I can't use alcohol consumption as an excuse because I don't consume it. That will be everyone else and their sister and their sister's sister or brother and sister in Seward that weekend. It's not for me. I'd rather go halibooty fishing after the race.


    ***
    One thing that I noticed is that the summit of these Alaskan mountains don't have the USGS symbols on them and they don't have summit logs. I guess it doesn't really matter, but there are so many people that make it to the top and thousands more that would love to but can't.

    While I was up there, I was thinking about handicapped people and why couldn't someone that has a handicap could do the race?
    Kingfisherktn, you'd be a perfect candidate for it? Maybe I'll make a mention of it at the safety meeting and see if we can get you in next year?!?!
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