Tilly wins marathon in Korea

November 8, 2017

Sam Tilly has come a long way from his days at Anchorage’s Dimond High School, where he failed to even qualify for its junior varsity cross country team.

On Sunday, Tilly handily won Korea’s JoongAng Seoul Marathon in a personal-best 2 hours, 30 minutes and 43 seconds. The race featured 17,000 runners.

The 31-year-old native of Rainbow Valley near Indian is confident he can go even faster.

“I think I can run a sub-2:25 with a good build-up and a competitive race,” said Tilly, who sometimes commutes to work by running and logs about 10 hours a week.

This is Tilly’s fourth year in Korea, where he teaches high school math and heads the robotics program at Chadwick International School in the city of Songdo not far from Seoul.

“Running aside, family and work life is awesome here,” said Tilly, whose family includes wife Tessa Rhyner and their two young children. “I work at an amazing school and I get to travel a lot.”

Tilly may be happy in Korea, but he still enjoys returning to Alaska each summer. His visits coincide with the Mayor’s Marathon, where he placed third in 2016 (2:32:10) and second in 2015 (2:32:48). In 2015, Tilly finished just nine seconds behind champion Paul Rottich and nearly overcame a two-minute deficit in the final five miles.

Another benefit to Tilly’s location is that he’ll be able to attend the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang next February.

“We have tickets to some of the cross country skiing races, so maybe we’ll see an Alaskan,” Tilly said.

– By Matias Saari, Alaska Sports Blog contributor