Allie Ostrander running under a 25 year old course record in her senior race debut at Mount Marathon, the annual July 4th mountain foot race in Seward, Alaska that the 2014 Nike Cross National has competed in every summer since grade school. (Photo by irunfar.com)
It's the Fourth of July in Alaska, what else would Allie Ostrander be doing? Of course, she would be scaling Mount Marathon again in Seward for the famous footrace which she made a legendary name for herself winning the junior race for six consecutive years. Last year, she did not just beat the all the girls, but all the boys as well in another course record breaking performance.
This year's Mount Marathon would be different for the 2014 Nike Cross Nationals champion and sub 10 minute two miler Ostrander as she was now jumping up to the senior division race to compete against the adults, which draws top mountain runners from the lower 48 states and internationally. The competition would be a lot tougher than the junior races, which drew primarily high school runners in Alaska that she had regularly dominated in the cross country and track seasons. The junior race is also only half the distance and halfway up the mountain. The senior race goes all the way up to the top at elevation 3,022 feet.
Another factor to make the odds of a seventh straight win at Mount Marathon less probable for the incoming Boise State freshmen Ostrander (pictured right by Cole Deal) was she just recently this past month had been dealing with a hip injury which forced her to pull out of two major post-season elite races that she had been gearing up for in the adidas Dream mile and Brooks PR two mile. She had just started running again the past two weeks and putting in only 20 miles a week. She had been cross training primarily since the Alaska State meet in late May and only run roughly a dozen days total over the last five weeks.
"Definitely felt let down at the end of my track season. I think I could have performed well at those races, but I couldn't," said Ostrander on her last month of high school track or lack thereof.
Her first real injury suffered in high school not only dashed hopes of ending her high school track career with fast new PR's in a rare opportunity to race against the nation's best, but also created a big question if it would jeopardize her streak of participation in her summer must do race?
The difficult and treacherous Mount Marathon race was so important to Ostrander that it was part of her recruiting process with college coaches if she would be allowed to still compete in the race each summer on her future college team. Allie was hoping to find the right school and coach, which would also be okay for her continued participation in Mount Marathon through college. Not a deal breaker, but being allowed to still race Mount Marathon was certainly a nice bonus.
Allie Ostrander and Mount Marathon go together like July 4th and fireworks. Even when it rains, flags still wave and fireworks still go off on America's independence day. Even when she's been nicked up and spending more cross training than running over last month, Ostrander is still on the starting line for Mount Marathon.
Was there any chance that she would opt to skip the race and continue to rest and ease into her summer training for the upcoming freshmen cross country season at Boise State? Ostrander's was decisively clear. Just like how she races.
"No. I missed too much racing already. I needed to race."
In her first time running the senior race today at Mount Marathon, which the first annual race dates back before 1915, Ostrander broke the women's course record which had stood for over 25 years in a time of 50:28. The course distance is listed as ranging between 3.1 to 3.5 miles depending on the path that runners take up and down the mountain. It's a part hike and part run race given the varying terrain.
So much unknown for Ostrander compared to her recent years as the overhwelming junior race favorite. She could not have been more content with the outcome.
"I really had no idea (how I would do), so I was happy with my race. I was pleased with where my fitness is at since I've been mainly cross training. It was an encourage finish. I'm excited for where my fitness can get once I'm running consistently."
Unfortunately for Ostrander, she wasn't the first woman to cross the finish line this year as another name will be next to the women's course record in the 2016 race program. Also in the race with Ostrander happened to be one of the World's best female trail runners in Emelie Forsberg from Sweden. The 18 year old Ostrander can take no shame in losing to the 28 year old Swede in Forsberg, who has a Wikipedia page which showcases her long list of credentials as a top international champion trail and mountain runner.
Ostrander had no clue about Forsberg's abilities until after the race. She chuckled, "Yeah I figured that out (Forsberg's world level trailing running credentials) after getting crushed by her."
Forsberg would obliterate the old course record and create a significant gap between herself and the recent high school graduate Ostrander in a winning time of 47:48, while racing Mount Marathon for the first time. Ostrander, who certainly was not at her top fitness coming off a track season ending injury, has many years ahead of her as a teenager to chase after Forsberg if she returns to Seward in future years or at least go after the new course record set by the Swedish world class trailer runner.
"Hopefully! I've got a lot more years to go after it." said Ostrander after being asked if she felt she could challenge the new course record in the future when completely healthy and fitter under a year of college training.
Asked about how she felt about her latest Mount Marathon performance?
"I was happy with my run considering my lack of actual running and training. I've only been running 20 miles a week the last two weeks and cross training 1 to 2 times a day."
Last year's race, a famous character at the event named the "Birdman" came up to Allie and her mom Teri before the race and told her "Hope you beat all the boys!", which Allie ironically ended up doing in the junior race to be the first ever.
This year, the Birdman came up to her before the race again and said "Hope you beat the record!" Breaking the Mount Marathon senior race women's record in Ostrander's debut on the longer course? Birdman demands and Allie delivers.
Next year can we get a "Hope you beat the Swede!" from the Birdman?
Just one amazing chapter of Allie Ostrander's lifetime story with the Mount Marathon race. Make sure to watch Episode 1 of ON THE RISE: Allie Ostrander below to learn about her beginnings and dominance of the junior race division at Mount Marathon.