FAIRBANKS - On occasion in the past, unknown newcomers have won the Equinox Marathon.
There was Pat Cross with a record-setting performance in 1983 and an impressive winning effort by Daniel Shaw, of Houston, Texas, in 2002.
This year’s surprise winner came in the women’s division when Emily Routon, of Sitka, took a talented field by surprise to claim the title with a winning time of 3 hours, 25 minutes, 40.3 seconds.
“All I wanted to do today was do my best,” the 29 year-old cross country running coach at Mt. Edgecumbe High School in Sitka said after getting a boisterous greeting from her husband Aaron, who finished eighth in the men’s race in 3:10:53.3. “I certainly did not expect to be in first place.”
The Equinox just happened to fall on the right weekend for the Routons and their friend Sam Scotchmer, who finished fifth in the men’s race.
“Our best friends have taken jobs in Delta Junction, and this was the weekend we decided to visit them,” Emily said. “We finally made it up here, so we decided to make this happen.”
Routon said she enjoyed every bit of the 26.2 race from the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus to the top of Ester Dome and back.
“I really enjoyed the fall colors and it was nice to run on a dry trail instead all the wet ones we have in Sitka,” she said.
Routon credited the victory to her husband, who ran with her for part of the race.
“He was pushing me all the way,” she said.
Routon said she didn’t have any problems knowing exactly how far ahead she was, once she moved into the top spot while climbing Ester Dome.
“Everyone was telling me exactly where I was, even though they didn’t know me,” Routon said. “It was so nice for people to do that.”
Routon was almost shocked when race co-director Susan Kramer asked the winner if she was going to be at Saturday night’s awards banquet to pick up her $300 winner’s paycheck.
“Someone mentioned prize money the other day, but it had nothing to do with how I ran the race,” Routon said. “I feel bad about taking money, so I’ll figure out some charity to give it to.”
Melissa Lewis of Fairbanks made a strong charge in the final nine miles and came within a little more than a minute of catching the winner.
Lewis, who finished second last year to Laura Brosius, finished Saturday’s run in 3:26:58.6, almost two minutes faster than in 2011.
Bonnie Axman, who is with the U.S. military in Japan, led the field in the early stages of the race finished in the third sport in 3:27:54.7.
Fourth place went to Laura Brosius, of Fairbanks, in 3:29:08. It was the first time in four starts Brosius did not take home the race’s top prize.
Christy Marwin, a former Glennallen High School standout who now lives in Palmer and runs many trail races in that part of the state, captured the fifth spot in 3:32:52.8.
“It was brutal,” Marwin said as she stretched after the race. “I didn’t know what to expect.”
Marwin said she hopes to come back and run the race again next year.
Rounding out the top 10 finishers were: Kinsey Apperson, of Fairbanks, sixth in 3:42:47.2; Anna Worden, of Fairbanks, seventh in 3:7:48.8; Christie Haupert, of Fairbanks, eighth in 3:49:57; Gayle Hoffmeiser, of Eagle River, ninth in 3:56:35.2; and Erika Burr, 10th in 3:59:04.1.