There's no better place to celebrate the summer solstice than Alaska, which hosted its annual Anchorage Mayor's Marathon on Saturday.
The annual event featured a marathon (26.2 miles), half marathon (13.1 miles), marathon relay (4x6.5-mile legs), four-miler and Youth Cup (1.6 miles). A USA Track and Field-certified competition, finishing times can be used to qualify for the Boston Marathon.
Three days before the event, race director Michael Friess noted that the registered list of 4,100 put them on pace for an-all time high number of participants. According to the Anchorage Daily News' Beth Bragg, he attributed moving the finish line to the Delaney Park Strip last year.
"That's about the highest we've ever had at this point," Friess said. "I think people like finishing at the park strip better. It's more central."
The number increased to over 4,400, with around 1,000 people running in the 26.2-mile marathon. Those runners all dealt with wet conditions, as illustrated by the Anchorage Daily News.
Earlier this week, the Westchester Lagoon bridge, which connected the Chester Creek Trail with the Coastal Trail, collapsed. The loss created course changes but nothing drastic to threaten its certification.
Here are the top finishers from the men's and women's marathons at Anchorage. For the full list of results, go to the official Anchorage Mayor's Marathon website.
Men's Marathon Results
|Men's Marathon Top Finishers|
David Kiplagat claimed his second consecutive marathon victory and his third title in four years with a final time of two hours, 32 minutes and 11 seconds.
Last year, he fell 24 seconds shy of breaking the race record with a finishing time of 2:22:53. Although he veered further from Michael Wisniewski's 2:22:29 high time set in 2009, Kiplagat preserved another win in a photo finish, beating out Paul Rottich by two seconds.
Solomon Kandie, who finished in second last year, trailed steps behind, crossing the finish line 13 seconds after the victor. The top three runners were all Kenyan, with two of them University of Alaska Anchorage (AAU) alumni.
Kiplagat has won three of the last four events while finishing third in 2012, so it comes as no major surprise to see him standing atop of the leaderboard. As long as he has a number next year, he should be considered the runaway favorite to have everyone else's number again.
Maybe he'll finally get that record next time.
Women's Marathon Results
|Women's Marathon Top Finishers|
Davya Flaharty finished with five minutes to spare, becoming the only woman to clock a tally under three hours at 2:59.51.
Another former AAU track star, the 29-year-old produced the day's most lopsided result, winning by a margin of five minutes, 55 seconds. She was also the only women's marathon runner to operate at an average of less than seven minutes per mile, maintaining a 6:52 pace throughout her impressive performance.
Anchorage's own Kirsten Kolb once again earned runner-up, falling shy despite improving her 2013 time by nearly 13 minutes. While her 3:05.46 mark would have propelled her to victory last year, she'll have to once again settle for second place.
Men's Half Marathon Results
|Men's Half Marathon Top Finishers|
Allan Spangler edged out Derek Gibson and Colin Wolfe by slightly more than a minute to take home the men's half marathon at 1:15:16.
Another local participant, Spangler was among four of the top five finishers to make Anchorage proud. Keeping the accolades in house, all top 10 finishers except one are Alaska natives.
The one holdout, Patrick Jones, represented Canada with an eighth-place finish.
Women's Half Marathon Results
|Women's Half Marathon Top Finishers|
A year after winning the full marathon, Anna Dalton decided to chop her workload in half en route to picking up another first-place finish.
The Anchorage native registered a 1:26:15 final time to win the half marathon over Tacoma's Rachel Johnson, who lagged 59 seconds behind in second. More than three minutes behind Johnson, Beth Lewis placed third.
Dalton finished 44th among all women in last year's New York City Marathon, ranking second among the 20-24 age tier. Had she sustained her per-mile pace of 6:36 from Anchorage's half marathon over the full 26.2 miles, she would have won that event.
Only seven men finished with a faster time than Dalton in the half marathon, so she joins Kiplagat as one of the Mayor's Marathon's top mainstays. The gold standard of each event, it will be interesting to see which discipline she'll pursue if she runs next year.
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