SEWARD -- For Anchorage's Brad Precosky, defending the Mount Marathon title in the men's race Tuesday was all about getting away.
Getting away from the other racers after the halfway point of the 3,022-foot mountain. Getting away from the throngs that line Seward's streets for some quiet time before the race. And getting away with a slip while training on the mountain Monday that could have resulted in a serious fall.
Precosky got away with all those things, allowing him to come away with his second straight Marathon crown in the 73rd running of the race. His time was 45 minutes, 31.2 seconds, just under two minutes faster than second-place finisher Eli Lane of Seward.
Last year, when Precosky, 33, won his first Mount Marathon title, he was the pressure-free underdog. All eyes were on Todd Boonstra, who was looking to win his fourth straight Marathon.
But Precosky upset Boonstra with a blistering downhill to earn the king of the mountain title -- and all the expectations that come with it. With Boonstra off in Boston earning his master's degree in education, all eyes rested squarely on Precosky Tuesday.
"I was definitely really nervous," said Precosky, who spent 10 years as a commercial fisher in Kasilof until stopping in 1997. "I needed to get away and be by myself before the race."
Precosky escaped to Seward Middle-High School and spent some time by himself thinking about the trail.
"It really wasn't more than a couple of minutes into the race before I got really into it," he said.
And once he was into the race, the rest of the field -- slowly but surely -- fell out of the race.
Precosky, who said his training method is simply "getting out and enjoying myself in the mountains," started pulling away when he emerged from the trees at the midway point of the mountain. He made it to the top in about 35 minutes, then careened down the mountain in less than 11 minutes.
He said, in the end, he was aided on his downhill by some training he did on the waterfall Monday, but it almost didn't turn out that way. The waterfall is the giant rock face at the bottom of the mountain where spectators, as well as medical personnel, commune for thrills and spills.
Precosky said he was coming down the waterfall when his foot hit a rock and nearly caused him to go down the face face first. But he was able to locate a dimple on the rock and find enough leverage to right himself.
"It was pretty scary when it happened, but I'm glad I trained on the waterfall," he said. "It meant I did that part of the course smoothly today."
Not that, in the end, it mattered. Lane, who graduated from Seward in 1993, would have needed far more than a slip on the waterfall to catch Precosky. What he said he could have definitely used was some rain.
"I'll take rain or whatever makes it cooler," said the former all-American NCAA Division III cross country athlete. "I definitely do terrible in hot weather."
Last year, with temperatures at about 90 degrees, Lane struggled to an eighth-place finish. Before Tuesday, Lane's best finishes were a third in 1993 and a second in 1994. He said both came in cool weather.
In Tuesday's sunny but cool conditions, Lane decided to stick with Anchorage's Barney Griffith, who would finish fourth, early.
"Barney sets a great pace," Lane said. "He's a real steady runner. I run like a yo-yo, so it helped sticking with him."
Lane reached the midway point up the mountain in third, but by the top he was solidly in second. He ended up defeating third-place finisher Quinn, a cross-country skier at powerhouse University of Utah, and Griffith by a minute.
In one final amazing Marathon feat, Seward's Fred Moore, 60, finished his 31st Mount Marathon. Alaska's answer to Cal Ripken Jr. finished in 1:00:56, good enough to break his age group record but not good enough to extend his string of 27 years in a row under an hour.
Quinn and Lane, by the way, weren't even born the last time Moore raced and didn't break an hour -- a time recorded by just 41 of Tuesday's 250 finishers.
His secret? "Just practice," he said.
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