The University of Alaska Anchorage Seawolves hosted Alaska’s most popular marathon and half-marathon event June 20. Several thousand runners competed in the race. It seemed as if the only one who forgot to show up to the Mayor’s Marathon was the sun, which shines for a boastful 20 hours during summer solstice. Instead, overcast skies, a slight breeze, and 58-degree temperatures gave runners a cooler, and arguably more favorable, climate to run in.
One of UAA’s past cross-country and track athlete, Paul Rottich, won the men’s marathon with a time of 2:32:39, beating out Sam Tilly of Indian, Alaska, by less than 10 seconds.
It was redemptive performance for Rottich, who was in Tilly’s shoes the last time he ran the marathon in 2014, when he finished a close second to David Kiplagat.
UAA cross-country and track and field coach Matt Friese, who coached Rottich from 2006-2010, was proud of his former student-athlete.
“He came close to winning last year and he came close to losing this year,” said the longtime Seawolf coach. “I’m glad to see him win and hey, it’s tough to win a marathon. For him to do that is impressive.”
On the women’s side, Colleen Bolling was the fastest in the field, covering the 26.2-mile course in 3:14:37 and approximately two minutes ahead of second place finisher Alison Huppert.
Unlike the top 10 male finishers in the marathon, which was dominated by Alaskans, seven of the top 10 women’s finishers were from out-of-state, coming from locales as far out as Albuquerque and Toronto.
A couple from southern Utah stole the show in the half marathon of Saturday’s even. Hayden and Ashley Hawks, who registered as residents of Cedar City, Utah, both won their respective races. Ashley proved she is as good of training partner as anyone for her husband, after she finished the race in 1:20:25, only 13 minutes behind her husband.
Seawolves Henry Cheseto, Edwin Kangogo, Victor Samoei all looked in competitive form, finishing in the top 10 in the half marathon.
Another UAA cross-country and track and field alumna Christi Schmitz proved she still is an elite runner, finishing the half-marathon in 1:30:32.
There were many other great athletes in attendance in addition to those who placed or were UAA athletes, including international marathon enthusiast Doug Beagle.
Beagle arrived in Anchorage around midnight on race day, a couple of hours before sunrise, and less than nine hours before he would be staged at the starting line for the marathon in the parking lot of East Anchorage High School.
“It was a little tough today,” said the 65-year-old runner from Houston, Texas.
Beagle travels all over the world with his wife and never forgets to pack his running shoes.
When asked if this was his first marathon, Beagle replied nonchalantly he’s run in over 200 marathons, which includes some ultra marathons, which are races longer than 26.2 miles.
“We do a marathon every two weeks,” Beagle said. “We enjoy the travel.”
Beagle’s passion for exploration and exercise has led him to all over North America and the world. Beagle says he’s run in all but two continents: South America and Antarctica.
The 5’10” Texan doesn’t allow age to get in the way of his running.
“That’s the thing about getting older — you train just as hard, you put just as much effort into it, and you go slower,” Beagle said. “Every day, every race is different.”
That was certainly the case for Oregonian Theresa Crawford.
Crawford’s father, Larry, was chief-of-staff under several past Anchorage mayors, including Tom Fink, Rick Mystrom and most recently, Dan Sullivan. Crawford passed away two years in Sullivan’s term. The younger Crawford was glad to be close to her dad on Father’s Day weekend.
“I did this for him,” she said.