Ostrander is the pick: Mt Marathon women’s Top 10 predictions

July 2, 2018

– By Matias Saari;  Alaska Sports Blog Contributor

1. Allie Ostrander, age 22 (PR 49:19, 2017 champion)

Allie Ostrander track running

Allie Ostrander

If she decides to race, it’s hard to imagine Allie O getting beat.

The Soldotna native and current Boise State University standout won the junior girls’ race six times, is the defending women’s champion and boasts the 2nd (49:19) and 3rd fastest (50:28) times in women’s race history.

However, in an interview after winning her second straight NCAA steeplechase championship on June 9, she hedged when asked whether she’d participate in Mount Marathon. Ostrander’s concern was that she’d have too little time to prepare properly and that racing the demanding mountain would require a lengthy recovery.

Ostrander hadn’t announced her decision by Monday and told the Peninsula Clarion she might decide on race day.

Ostrander, who has two years of college eligibility remaining and could make a bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics, was spotted recently training on Mount Marathon.

Ostrander climbed the mountain last year in 36:58, a time no woman in this year’s field can come close to matching. Then she descended in 12:21, thirty-four seconds faster than Christy Marvin.

It would take a rough day for Ostrander and a career day for Marvin or another woman for Ostrander to be dethroned.

If she shows up, that is. If not, a handful of women have a shot.

2. Christy Marvin, 37 (PR 51:02, 2-time champion)

Christy Marvin

Marvin, a two-time champion, already has dominant wins this year at Crazy Lazy, Knoya Ridge and the 30-mile Kesugi Ridge Traverse on June 23. But she showed a chink in her armor when Jessica Yeaton edged her by 11 seconds at Bird Ridge.

Her advantage on the downhill, however, should keep her ahead of anyone who fails to considerably gap her while climbing.

3. Jessica Yeaton, 26 (MM rookie, 2018 Olympian)
Yeaton, of Anchorage, certainly gain confidence by pulling away from Marvin in the final minutes at Bird Ridge to become that race’s second fastest woman ever. She’s also a 2018 Olympian, as she represented Australia (her mother’s homeland) this February in Korea.

Like Rosie Frankowski, she’ll need a decent downhill to hold her place from the climb. Perhaps she can get some tips from her significant other, David Norris.
4. Rosie Frankowski, 26 (MM rookie, 2018 Olympian)

From Left: Frankowski, Yeaton and APU teammate Becca Rorabaugh

This APU Nordic skier was a late addition to the field by virtue of her impressive victory at Government Peak on June 2 (sans Marvin).

Frankowski also competed at the 2018 Olympics, making the most of her only start by placing 21st in the 30-kilometer event.

Like most skiers, she is expected to excel on the climb but her descending skills are unknown.

5. Denali Foldager-Strabel, 28 (PR 53:40)
Her mother, Patti Foldager, and husband, Eric Strabel, are both Mount Marathon champions, and Denali longs to join that club some day. Fourth last year, she had her best race of the season at Bird Ridge (3rd) and is among the fastest downhillers. If she can stay within striking distance of Yeaton and Frankowski on the climb, she could pick them off on the descent. However, that will be easier said than done.

6. Anita Ortiz, 54 (MM rookie)
Ortiz, of Colorado, has been to Alaska at least once before. In 2002, she raced Wolverine Peak, a qualifying race for the US Mountain Running Team and defeated Nina Kemppel by an astounding five minutes. Kemppel was in good form, too, having competed in her fourth Winter Olympics that winter and a few weeks shy of winning her record 8th Mount Marathon. One wonders what Ortiz might have done at Mount Marathon in 2002.

Now 16 years later, Ortiz is still achieving solid results in her mid-fifties. The 50-59 age-group record (59:23 set by Sheryl Loan) is in serious jeopardy.

7. Najeeby Quinn, 38 (PR 54:07)
A long-time mountain and trail racer who now also competes in ski mountaineering events, Quinn was second at Knoya and fourth at Bird Ridge. But Mount Marathon’s field is much deeper, so she’ll probably need to crack 55 minutes for a shot at the Top 5.

8. Allison Barnwell, 26 (PR 55:08)
Barnwell, a Seward native living in Anchorage, placed second at Mount Marathon in 2013. The field is stacked this year, so unless she can improve on her typical result of 55-57 minutes, Barnwell will be relegated to the back half of the Top 10.

9. Hannah LaFleur, 30 (PR 56:41)
The Boulder, Colorado, resident had an impressive debut a year ago. If she achieves another strong race she exceed this prediction.

10. Abby Jahn, 25 (PR 59:31)
Jahn broke an hour for the first time in 2017 and continues to improve. Watch out for her to make a jump in a couple years, but not quite yet.

Top 10 Hopefuls Who If They Feel Slighted Should Prove Me Wrong:
– Mackenzie Barnwell, 24 (PR 1:00:55)
– Julianne Dickerson, 30 (PR 1:06:17)
– Rachel Dow, 39 (PR 58:07, 8 top 10s)
– Heather Edic, 26 (MM rookie)
– Lauren Fritz, 30 (PR 54:47)
– Sarah Glaser, 29 (PR 1:00:27)
– Ruby Lindquist, 18 (2nd junior female, 2017)
– April McAnly, 36 (PR 59:08)

Hillary Allen — In September, 2017, Allen took a horrific 150-foot fall off an exposed ridge at a race in Norway, an accident that broke 12 bones and could have killed her. Nine months later, she has returned to competition and was a close second at the Broken Arrow Vertical Kilometer June 15, finishing just 24 seconds behind Morgan Arritola, last year’s Mount Marathon runner-up.
Allen reportedly is coming to Seward for the holiday. She’s not registered for Mount Marathon, but might she seek entry at the auction on July 3?

Signed Up But Not Racing:
– Anna Dalton, focusing on Berlin Marathon (PR 59:13)
– Ann Spencer, recovering from injury (PR 55:11)

Other Top 2017 Finishers Not Returning:
– Morgan Arritola, 2nd in 51:09

Guest Picks:
Holly Brooks — Ostrander, Yeaton, Marvin, Frankowski, Quinn, Foldager-Strabel, Ortiz, LaFleur, Jahn, McAnly
Scott Patterson — Ostrander, Marvin, Yeaton, Foldager-Strabel, Quinn, Barnwell, Frankowski, LaFleur, Jahn, McAnly
Harlow Robinson — Ostrander, Marvin, LaFleur, Frankowski, Yeaton, Barnwell, Foldager-Strabel, Jahn, Ortiz, Quinn