Nikiski's Chris Huff did little to hurt Alaska's distance running reputation Sunday at the Seattle Marathon.
Huff, 28, finished second in the race with a time of 2 hours, 32 minutes and 14 seconds. German Uli Steidl, a 28-year-old graduate student at the University of Washington, won the race by crossing the tape in 2:27:13.
With an Anchorage runner finishing in the top five at the Seattle Marathon, the race once again proved serious marathon training is possible in Alaska.
David Morris of Eagle River was the American record holder in the marathon until this year, and Anchorage's Chris Clark gained fame this summer by representing the United States in the women's marathon at the Sydney Olympics.
"There was some kind of shock, I guess, when they saw the abbreviation 'AK' behind my name," said Huff, who moved to Nikiski in August. "When the guy from Anchorage finished up there, that helped a little bit.
"When the newspeople and TV guys found out I just moved up here from Nebraska, it seemed a little more believable."
Huff, the cross country coach at Nikiski High School, said he ran stride-for-stride with Steidl until mile 18 of the 26.2-mile race. At that point, both were running one mile every 5:32. At mile 18, Steidl dropped to 4:55-mile pace and left Huff behind.
Steidl has run a marathon in 2:13, while Huff's best is at 2:28, so Huff knew it was a matter of time before Steidl would break away. The German collected his second straight win at the race.
"If I would have tried to keep up with him when he broke away, it would have destroyed my whole race plan," Huff said.
Huff, who ran track and cross country at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa, said he wasn't quite satisfied with his time.
"Of course I wanted a time that was a bit faster, but I'm young in this race," Huff said. "I'm just learning it.
"For that course, I'll take it. I didn't know the course. I was going in there blind."
Huff said he eventually would like to qualify for the Olympic trials in 2004 in the marathon. He just moved up to the marathon after concentrating on five- and 10-kilometer races when he was younger.
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