Every year on the 4th of July, mountain runners from Alaska and across the world gather to run in Seward’s Mount Marathon Race.
It’s a grueling uphill run that participants register for through a lottery, auction, or invitation process before being allowed to earn their spot in the race by finishing among the top runners in their category.
Normally, runners can defer only under very special circumstances. But this year marathon officials are granting all runners an option to defer their registration to 2020 due to the wildfire smoke expected to remain in the area.
Four-time runner Amber McDonough said that doesn’t settle the matter for her just yet. She’ll be traveling to Seward with her husband to see just how thick the smoke is before deciding.
“The course changes every year and you have to be prepared for different variables but something like smoke is just something that no one intentionally trains for,” McDonough said.
But others, like five-time marathon runner Najeeby Quinn, said it’s time to throw in the towel with this air.
“You take being sick and then you add in really hot temperatures like what we had last year and then you add the potential of not clean air and this just doesn’t sound fun,” said Quinn, lamenting not being able to attend and cheer on other runners.
According to a statement from the Seward Chamber of Commerce the two non-junior races are expected to proceed as scheduled on July 4. However, the junior race may be canceled depending on smoke conditions.
Runners have until an hour before the race to decide whether or not to defer.
Additional information on the smoke advisory can be found at the National Weather Service web page.
Approximately 1,000 runners participate in the mountain race annually.