How the Race Started

According to folklore, the tradition of the Mount Marathon Race began when two sourdoughs argued about the possibility of climbing and descending the mountain in less than an hour. “Impossible” one said. To settle the argument, and the resulting wager, a race was held, with the loser to furnish drinks for the crowd. At the same time, enterprising merchants put up a suit of clothes and other attractions for the winner and proposed the race take place on a holiday – why not the 4th of July? The optimistic sourdough lost his bet. The winning racer took one hour and two minutes.

Official records disclose that the Mount Marathon Race® actually began as an organized run in 1915 and has since become a regular part of the Independence Day celebration in Seward. Over the years, this home town historic event has drawn increased participation and resulted in new milestones. 54 women finished the first-ever women’s race in 1985, juniors began logging their age-group records in 1994, and 2005 heralded the beginning of the “staggered start” for the senior races. The popular Mini Marathon race starts them out young – toddling just a few feet to victory!

The Mount Marathon Race® application process takes place beginning January 1st each year and closes at midnight, Alaska time, on March 31st. The foot race is a climb and descent on Mount Marathon – a mile and a half up and a mile and a half down, complete with cliffs, scree fields, waterfalls, and a spectacular view.

If you have any questions or wish to volunteer, do not hesitate to contact the Seward Chamber of Commerce Events Coordinator at or 907-224-8051.