Alaska Mountain Runner
Fred Moore is an Alaskan legend, having run Seward’s Fourth of July Mount Marathon Race 50 consecutive times.
Competitors on this 5K up and down Marathon Mountain choose between scrambling over muddy roots in thick vegetation or clambering up a cliff face on the approximately 3,000-foot climb to the summit before turning around for the descent, speeding down a slope of sharp, loose rocks and even an experts-only waterfall shortcut on the way back to the finish line downtown. Moore, who first tackled this grueling 5K in 1970 at age 30, is now joined by his children and grandchildren on the trail, and the 81-year-old shows no signs of stopping any time soon.
Fred Moore. Photo courtesy of Peninsula Clarion.
What brought you to Seward?
I came here from Pennsylvania in 1959. I had been working in a sawmill before I left and when I got here, I worked in sawmills again up until the job that I lost right before I started doing the mountain. After that, I became a carpenter.
How did you start running the mountain?
I found myself out of work and there was a mountain standing there right beside town. I wasn’t that interested in the race at that time. I just figured, “Well, I’ll start climbing it and get in shape for sheep and goat hunting in the fall.” So I climbed it quite a bit. Then Fourth of July came around and I was feeling pretty decent … so I went down, paid my dollar, and got in the race and kind of surprised myself. I decided, “Maybe I’ll just do this again next year. It’s not that bad.”
What do you love about Seward?
The mountains, the water, the ocean, the bay. It’s a small place.
What would you tell friends to do while visiting Seward? If they like to get outdoors, there’s some real good trails around here. We have the Kenai Fjords National Park, the glaciers, cruises on the bay, whale watching and charter boats will take you out fishing.
What keeps you in the race every year?
There’s a lot of friends I’ve made there that I might only see on the Fourth of July or maybe a time or two in practice. Even though I’m not around them a whole lot, we’re pretty close. We just have a mutual bond. I don’t really enjoy competition. I don’t go into the race trying to beat other people, because they’re all my friends. So competition isn’t why I do it. If I do something, I like to try and do it well.
–Written by Sarah Anne Lloyd
This story originally appeared in the July/August 2021 edition of the AAA Washington member magazine, Journey.