Thursday, August 30, 2018

Down Memory Lane Part 2

We returned to Seward for the Fourth of July, where the town of just under 2,800 explodes to approximately 40,000 as people from around the world swarm to the scenic town for food, fun, fireworks, a parade, and the annual Mount Marathon Race. Downtown streets are blocked off for a fair with a wide variety of food concessions and souvenir stands.

Street fair in Seward on the Fourth of July with Mt. Marathon rising above it
We looked for familiar faces of friends we knew would be there, but in that crowd connecting was impossible. Parking lots and RV parks were packed. Fortunately, my classmates we had visited a few days before had invited us to make their home our base for the day and had reserved a place for us to park in front of their house just three blocks down from the main street.

The main event of the day is the Mount Marathon Race, among the oldest mountain footraces. According to folklore, the tradition began in Seward's early days when two sourdoughs (Alaskan old timers) argued about the possibility of climbing and descending the mountain in less than an hour--a mile and a half up and a mile and a half down a trail complete with cliffs, loose shale, waterfalls, sometimes snowfields.

The famous as well as amateur racers climb up the nearly vertical face of 3,000-foot Mount Marathon (the trail is visible from town).The Junior Race began at 9:00 a.m. from the center of town to the halfway point on the mountainside and back. At 11:00 a.m.,  the Men's Race began with a maximum of three hundred competing. The women's race was at 2: p.m. following a short parade at 1:00 p.m.

The winning time for the men's race from the center of town to the top of the 3,000-foot mountain and back this year was 42 minutes and 13 seconds; for the women's race, 51 minutes and 30 seconds.

In my youth when I lived in Seward, I climbed that mountain several times, but it took me much more than an hour! The spectacular view from the top more than made up for the painful muscles I suffered afterwards.

Leading off with a military color guard, the parade featured the Seward police and fire departments, political floats, scouts, and various civic groups. Here are some shots of the parade:
The fire truck lining up with Mt. Marathon rising above.

Waiting for the women racers to come in.
I loved the flag hanging from the hook and ladder truck over the
church steeple with the mountains as a backdrop.

We left late afternoon to drive back to Anchorage. I hope you enjoyed this glimpse of the Fourth of July in Seward, Alaska. Next week I'll continue my travelogue--our trip to Fairbanks up the Parks Highway.

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