Many found Kenai Central senior Allie Ostrander finishing first — as in first amongst the girls and boys — in Friday’s Mount Marathon junior race shocking. Don’t count boys winner Michael Marshall of Seward amongst that group.
In the race up and down the brooding taskmaster lurking in the window of Seward residences, the physical advantages tend to accrue to men.
Race history first recognizes a girls champion in the coed junior race in 1986. Since then, the closest a girl came to winning the overall title came in 1990, when Emily Ransom lost to Jeremy Crawford by 3 minutes, 34 seconds.
But Marshall has been racing Ostrander in the open race of Kenai Peninsula Borough Middle School meets since both were in grade school. Both of the athlete’s mothers are coaches. Sometimes Ostrander would win, and sometimes Marshall would win.
So when he hopped off the mountain and onto the road portion of the race, he wasn’t at all surprised when Ostrander dashed past him and into Marathon lore.
“My mom said it was poetic that this was the year she beat all the boys after all of those cross-country meets,” Marshall said.
And he’s not the least bit ashamed about it.
“We all know Allie,” he said. “She’s an amazing athlete. She’s known nationwide. I don’t feel bad at all that she passed me. I’m super proud of her and it was nice to see her win and do something historical.”
Beyond setting state prep records at 1,600 and 3,200 meters, Ostrander has proven herself on the national stage. In April, she finished second to Alexa Efraimson in the prestigious Arcadia Invitational in California, running 10:03.66 to Efraimson’s 9:55.92.
In June, Efraimson ran the second-fastest prep 1,500 time ever to finish 10th at the addidas Grand Prix Diamond League meet in New York, which is a prestigious professional meet. After the meet, Efraimson said she had not ruled out turning pro for her senior year of high school.
It was that kind of talent Marshall was tasked with holding off once he reached the road.
The junior race goes halfway up the mountain, while the men and women do the full 3,022. Anchorage’s Luke Jager, the eventual boys runner-up, got to the midway point first, followed by Ostrander and Marshall.
Marshall passed both on the scramble down the mountain, while Ostrander passed Jager. She said she hit the road 25 meters behind Marshall.
“I passed him almost right away,” she said. “I think he was pretty shot.”
But before that pass came a flirtation with acquiescing to the unique, full-body pain that floors runners as they transition from mountain to road running.
“When I got to the road and saw the police car was in front of Michael, I was like, ‘You know, it wouldn’t be that bad to get beat by one boy,’” she said. “But then I thought it would be bad to not give it my all.
“I thought, ‘I’m going to do everything I can to beat him.’”
The girls junior victory is a record sixth straight for Ostrander. Next on the roll is Ransom, with four wins.
Her time of 28:54 lowers her previous record of 2011’s 30:32, and the 17-year-old leaves the junior category with all three age group records.
Ruby Lindquist of Moose Pass was second in the girls race at 36:38, while Ninilchik’s Riana Boonstra, daughter of four-time champion Todd, finished fifth in 37:55 in her debut.
“I wanted to break 30 this year,” Ostrander said. “It was my last chance at halfway and I didn’t want to let it slip by.”
Before this year, Ostrander’s time would have won the junior race in three of eight years.
The full trip up the mountain now awaits.
“Every time I get halfway up the mountain, I’m like, ‘People go all the way up this racing?’” she said. “I’ve gone all the way up, but only on a training hike and never super hard.
“The halfway is just so mentally taxing. I can’t even imagine the full mountain.”
Marshall also made the most of his final junior appearance, notching his first victory in 11 appearances with a time of 29:36. He is currently living in Portland, Oregon, and won despite coming back Monday and training on the mountain just twice.
Marshall said he will now take a break from the race.
“This race is special to me and it’s definitely something I will do when I get a little bit older, but I definitely want to take a breather from it and refresh myself,” he said.
The heat didn’t play a massive factor in the junior race held in the morning, especially since Ostrander had sustained a minor heat stroke running a two-mile race in North Carolina in temperatures nearing 90 degrees and extreme humidity.
“Coming here today, I was like, ‘I can handle this heat. This is nothing. It isn’t 90 degrees,’” she said.
But temperatures swelled into the 70s in the middle of the day, forcing men’s and women’s racers to miss the times they put up in training by at least a few minutes.
“The heat affected everybody,” said Strabel, who was dominant in claiming his third victory in the men’s race in the past four years.
Last year, Anchorage’s Strabel ran 42:55 to strike Bill Spencer’s iconic 43:21 from the record book. This year, Strabel ran 44:46 to top runner-up Matias Saari of Anchorage by 1:07. Ricky Gates of San Francisco, who broke Spencer’s record last year in a runner-up effort, was fourth at 46:49.
For those looking for another reference point as to the quality of Ostrander’s time, remember that Strabel was in a prep career that saw him win state skiing, cross-country and track titles when he won the junior race at 28:30 in 1999.
“I’m glad the men’s and women’s races are separate,” he said. “I don’t have to race her next year.”
Strabel stumbled at the base of the mountain, receiving a gash on his knee and back, but that only left him raving about the quality care he received in the medical tent.
“The volunteers make this race,” he said. “Mount Marathon isn’t just about the mountain, it couldn’t happen without Seward. It takes the whole city to put on this race.”
In the women’s race, Holly Brooks beat Christy Marvin to the top and held on to win by just two seconds, running 52:49. Brooks won for the second time, while Marvin’s closing kick just narrowly missed a second-straight title.
The host city put on an impressive show in the race, as Seward athletes claimed eight of the top 20 spots.
Brooks also got a kick out of Ostrander’s feat.
“I’m so proud of her,” she said. “That’s some serious girl power.”
Allie’s sister, Taylor, finished sixth in the women’s race at 58:17, improving on her 17th-place finish of 1:04:13 a year ago.
While Allie is a known track commodity, Taylor was a no-track commodity when she graduated from Kenai Central in 2012. She never ran track in high school.
But in just two years, she has transformed into a runner that took 11th in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the NCAA Division III Track and Field Championships in May.
“The other day somebody asked me what I was thinking about doing for post-collegiate running and I kind of laughed and they were like, ‘Why is that funny?’” said Ostrander, who runs for Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. “A couple of years ago I never would have imagined myself competing at college, let alone having such an amazing opportunity to compete at nationals.”
So how does coach Matt McGuirk feel about his rapidly ascending runner ascending Mount Marathon?
“I don’t think he really knows what Mount Marathon is like and I’m looking to keep it that way,” she said. “He knows that I do it, but I’d really hate for him to know what going up and down the mountain actually looks like.
“His opinion might change a bit.”
While Brooks weaved to the finish in a trancelike state and sat for several minutes, moaning, on a bucket after crossing the line, Ostrander finished with a smile on her face.
But don’t interpret that smile to mean she took it easy with her track career in mind.
“I’d describe my face at the finish as an expression that can only be brought about by Mount Marathon,” she said upon completing her third women’s race after one race as a junior. “There’s so much pain and so much joy in that face.
“I could barely walk across the finish line.”
Teri Ostrander, the mother of Allie and Taylor, finished the women’s race in 91st place in 1:24:23. It was her seventh finish. She said she normally finishes in that range.
“I don’t know where they get that mountain goat ability,” she said of her daughters. “When we do training hikes, I never see them after the first part. They’re just gone.”
In the men’s race, patriarch Paul Ostrander was the fourth and final Ostrander to cross the line, taking 149th at 1:17:28.
Ostrander had watched his wife and daughter do the race for years, finally getting in this year on his 14th try in the lottery held to fill the limited field.
He threw himself into training, doing Mount Marathon four times, Skyline seven times and Butte once. He has been working out four or five times a week since February.
Even with all that, the race wasn’t as easy as his daughters make it look, especially in the heat.
“It was absolutely brutal up there today,” he said. “I stopped four times, and I’ve never stopped on a training run.”
Teri said she always felt sorry for Paul in past years because he would go on training runs with the family, then have to sit around and carry gear on race day.
At Squirrels Inn, the quarter pole up the mountain, spectating sounded good to Paul.
“It’s much, much, much harder than you think it is watching it,” he said. “I wanted to quit from the Squirrels Inn up. I just wanted to quit. Every single step I had to make myself go.”
But like most racers, wanting to quit Mount Marathon is a race, and not post-race, activity.
“I had to finish in the top 225 to get an invite for next year,” he said before he knew his placement. “If I did, I’ll be back.”
2014 Mount Marathon
Friday in Seward
Top 5 — 1. Allie Ostrander, Soldotna, 28 minutes, 54 seconds; 2. Ruby Lindquist, Moose Pass, 36:38; 3. Molly Gellert, Anchorage, 37:10; 4. Hannah Booher, Chugiak, 37:47; 5. Riana Boonstra, Ninilchik, 37:55.
Other Peninsula finishers
13. Megan Pitzman, Homer, 40:35; 19. Josephine Braun, Seward, 42:55; 20. Sadie Fox, Soldotna, 43:30; 25. Aliann Schmidt, Soldotna, 45:46; 27. Iris Anderson, Seward, 46:36; 38. EmmaLee Moore, Seward, 48:51; 41. Danica Schmidt, Soldotna, 50:14; 42. Sasha Hamner, Seward, 50:29; 44. Kellie Arthur, Soldotna, 51:07; 47. Laura Kromrey, Moose Pass, 51:30; 48. Maile Moriarty, Seward, 51:35; 49. Meret Beutler, Sew, 51:39; 50. Mckinze Hauze, Seward, 52:12; 51. Annika Nilsson, Seward, 52:15; 56. Naomi Ifflander, Seward, 53:26; 58. Samantha Legate-Smith, Cooper Landing, 54:37; 61. Elsa O’Neill, Seward, 56:30; 62. Lydia Jacoby, Seward, 56:35; 63. Brenna McCarron, Homer, 57:37; 64. Haley Buckbee, Soldotna, 57:58; 69. Izabelle Hagge, Homer, 1:01:03; 74. Lauren Evarts, Homer, 1:04:03; 78. Lucy Hankins, Seward, 1:06:20; 82. Sonora Martin, Kenai, 1:08:30; 85. Katie Kilfoyle, Kenai, 1:11:21; 94. Noelle Buck, Seward, 1:23:31; 96. Keegan Lorring, Seward, 1:24:10; 102. Makaira Williams, Seward, 1:29:32; 103. Allie Dixon, Seward, 1:30:36.
Top 5 — 1. Michael Marshall, Seward, 29:36; 2. Luke Jager, Anchorage, 29:42; 3. Roan Hall, Eagle River, 29:43; 4. Derek Steele, Anchorage, 30:17; 5. Jack Martensen, Anchorage, 30:17.
Other Peninsula finishers
7. Hunter Kratz, Seward, 31:16; 13. Dylan Gillespie, Seward, 33:23; 14. Kelemen Legate, Cooper Landing, 33:52; 19. Thomas Zweifel, Seward, 34:16; 21. Brandon Moore, Seward, 34:42; 25. Paxson Berry, Seward, 35:28; 28. Samuel Koster, Seward, 35:33; 30. Max Pfeiffenberger, Seward, 35:46; 31. Zach Burns, Soldotna, 35:47; 35. Conway Seavey, Sterling, 37:40; 38. Neil Lindquist, Moose Pass, 38:47; 42. Luke Cutter, Seward, 40:24; 45. Christopher Kingsland, Seward, 41:08; 48. Sully Hauze, Seward, 41:32; 50. Ethan Pitzman, Homer, 42:29; 60. Brooks Berry, Moose Pass, 45:22; 63. Hunter Hollingsworth, Seward, 46:28; 65. Craig Lott, Soldotna, 46:46; 69. Marshall Vest, Soldotna, 47:46; 76. Nate Graves, Seward, 48:25; 78. Trey Ingalls, Seward, 48:31; 85. Ian Beals, Seward, 48:57; 86. Karl Pfeiffenberger, Seward, 49:35; 87. Elias Davis, Seward, 50:12; 92. Cody Bryden, Moose Pass, 51:08; 95. Joshua Dela Cruz, Seward, 51:42; 97. Roman Hamner, Seward, 53:27; 99. Michael Moriarty, Seward, 56:22; 102. Jed Christenson, Seward, 57:18; 104. Casey Bryden, Moose Pass, 58:03; 105. Zac Buckbee, Soldotna, 58:45; 107. Cole Norcross, Seward, 1:00:06; 112. Eldon Zinis, Seward, 1:17:24.
Top 5 — 1. Holly Brooks, Anchorage, 52:49; 2. Christy Marvin, Palmer, 52:51; 3. Najeeby Quinn, Anchorage, 56:17; 4. Ann Spencer, Anchorage, 57:14; 5. Allison Barnwell, Seward, 57:50.
Other Peninsula finishers
6. Taylor Ostrander, Soldotna, 58:17; 8. Aubrey Smith, Seward, 59:41; 9. Karol Fink, Seward, 1:00:58; 10. Rachel Dow, Seward, 1:02:13; 11. Sarah Glaser, Seward, 1:03:10; 12. Denali Foldager, Seward, 1:03:10; 14. Tekla Seavey, Seward, 1:04:02; 20. Mackenzie Barnwell, Seward, 1:05:41; 26. Anna Widman, Kenai, 1:08:17; 27. Kristen Sieminski, Seward, 1:08:36; 30. Tara Swanson, Seward, 1:09:07; 31. Isabel Barnwell, Seward, 1:09:11; 38. Gyongyver Schilling, Hope, 1:10:48; 39. Leah Legate, Cooper Landing, 1:11:05; 48. Lisa Hartman, Seward, 1:14:55; 51. Amber St. Amand, Seward, 1:15:42; 52. Patricia Foldager, Seward, 1:15:51; 56. Jolie Glaser, Seward, 1:16:51; 57. Jennifer Uriarte, Seward, 1:17:02; 59. Stephanie Wright, Seward, 1:17:21; 63. Helen Lindemuth, Seward, 1:17:45; 71. Jackie Marshall, Seward, 1:20:08; 75. Binget Nilsson, Seward, 1:20:54; 88. Sadie Ulman, Seward, 1:23:57; 91. Teresa Ostrander, Soldotna, 1:24:23; 93. Letty Swanson, Seward, 1:24:40; 94. Christy Phillips, Seward, 1:24:41; 95. Hally Werner, Seward, 1:24:49; 101. Evelyn Bear, Cooper Landing, 1:26:21; 106. Stacy Schaffer, Seward, 1:27:01; 109. Justine Pechuzal, Seward, 1:27:32; 113. Mary Beth Koster, Seward, 1:28:13; 117. Julie Litchfield, Soldotna, 1:28:44; 118. Lindsey Kromrey, Moose Pass, 1:28:47; 125. Diana Hill, Seward, 1:29:36; 134. Tracy Pitts, Soldotna, 1:31:02; 135. Katharine Tongue, Kasilof, 1:31:19; 142. Hannah Beutler, Seward, 1:33:47; 150. Kathleen Morrison, Soldotna, 1:35:14; 151. Nancy Osborne, Seward, 1:35:15; 154. Marion Glaser, Seward, 1:36:26; 157. Jennifer Dougherty, Seward, 1:36:59; 173. Saundra Hudson, Homer, 1:42:17; 178. Whitney Martin, Kenai, 1:43:33; 180. Pamela Skogstad, Hope, 1:43:44; 182. Emilie Springer, Homer, 1:44:02; 183. Elysha Chapple, Homer, 1:44:10; 188. Wendy Bryden, Moose Pass, 1:44:49; 190. Eileen Audette, Seward, 1:45:34; 192. Kelley Sefton, Seward, 1:45:58; 193. Maddy Turner, Soldotna, 1:46:09; 194. Brooke Estes, Moose Pass, 1:47:19; 207. Sarah Rawson, Kenai, 1:51:09; 216. Carey Quiring, Seward, 1:55:58; 217. Willow Hetrick, Moose Pass, 1:56:00; 221. Cathern Zweifel, Seward, 1:56:34; 223. Frances Evarts, Homer, 1:56:41; 223. Brenna Evarts, Homer, 1:56:41; 225. Amy George, Soldotna, 1:57:19; 226. Rebecca Dixon, Seward, 1:57:20; 244. Meghan O’Leary, Seward, 2:10:35; 246. Melissa Staton, Kenai, 2:10:47; 248. Margaret Griffin, Soldotna, 2:13:07; 249. Emmanda Wood, Seward, 2:13:28; 251. Charlotte Coots, Kenai, 2:13:51; 254. Amanda Burg, Soldotna, 2:17:24; 269. Kristina Goolsby, Soldotna, 2:38:56; 275. Melissa Lundahl, Kenai, 3:21:36.
1. Eric Strabel, Anchorage, 44:46; 2. Matias Saari, Anchorage, 45:53; 3. Matthew Novakovich, Anchorage, 45:59; 4. Ricky Gates, San Francisco, 46:49; 5. Jim Shine, Anchorage, 47:12.
Other Peninsula finishers — 11. Brent Knight, SoHi graduate, 50:29; 12. Miles Knotek, Moose Pass, 50:46; 19. Pyper Dixon, Seward, 52:59; 20. Solomon D’Amico, Seward, 53:25; 37. Karl Mechtenberg, Seward, 58:00; 43. Joey Klecka, Kenai, 59:16; 44. Tannen Berry, Moose Pass, 59:25; 46. Josiah Martin, Kenai, 59:48; 51. Joseph Nyholm, Seward, 1:00:21; 55. Karl Romig, Cooper Landing, 1:01:15; 63. Brett Vadla, Soldotna, 1:02:52; 64. Nicholas Zweifel, Seward, 1:03:11; 69. Dan Marshall, Seward, 1:03:40; 81. Mark Chase, Seward, 1:07:13; 83. Samuel Young, Seward, 1:07:22; 85. Flip Foldager, Seward, 1:07:53; 91. Matthew Moore, Seward, 1:08:28; 92. Bixler McClure, Seward, 1:08:46; 96. Nicholas Swann, Seward, 1:09:33; 105. Jerry Swanson, Seward, 1:11:16; 114. Matt Hershock, Seward, 1:13:07; 126. Thomas Gillespie, Seward, 1:14:24; 131. Jason Moore, Kenai, 1:15:10; 133. Fred Moore, Seward, 1:15:17; 135. Jared Wallace, Seward, 1:15:35; 138. Dan Linkhart, Seward, 1:16:15; 149. Paul Ostrander, Soldotna, 1:17:28; 156. Rick Luebke, Kenai, 1:18:12; 162. Walter Moore, Kasilof, 1:19:22; 170. Anthony Uriarte, Seward, 1:20:23; 174. Sam Satathite, Soldotna, 1:20:52; 183. Curtis Schmidt, Soldotna, 1:21:44; 185. Wayne Humbert, Seward, 1:22:00; 193. Joshua Eavis, Seward, 1:25:02; 202. David Martin, Kenai, 1:26:54; 203. David M. Lorring, Seward, 1:27:09; 217. Levi Sutton, Soldotna, 1:31:01; 219. Edward Hartman, Seward, 1:31:30; 220. Sebastian Kratz, Seward, 1:31:32; 239. Kevin Lauver, Sterling, 1:38:09; 244. Glen Anderson, Seward, 1:40:12; 252. Harold Faust, Seward, 1:42:32; 255. Paul Pedersen, Soldotna, 1:43:06; 257. Andrew Buchanan, Seward, 1:43:41; 259. James Conant, Seward, 1:44:32; 268. Daniel Conetta, Kenai, 1:49:42; 269. Kevin Wastell, Soldotna, 1:51:29; 270. Timothy McDonald, Seward, 1:52:19; 271. Thomas Swann, Seward, 1:52:55; 276. Mark Kromrey, Moose Pass, 1:56:41; 277. Ronn Hemstock, Seward, 1:56:43; 289. William Hankins, Seward, 2:18:33; 291. Corbin Stirling, Seward, 2:20:04; 298. James Carlsen, Seward, 2:32:44.