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Black bear, two cubs create confusion at Mayor’s Marathon halfway point

A black bear on the Mayor's Marathon course causes runners to stop.
A black bear on the Mayor's Marathon course causes runners to stop.(Megan Youngren)
Updated: Jun. 19, 2021 at 3:58 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Soldotna’s Megan Youngren won the Mayor’s Marathon women’s race in 3 hours, 7 minutes and 43 seconds. The Soldotna runner would’ve had a faster time if it wasn’t for a black bear and two cubs disrupting the race at Goose Lake.

“It’s all fun and games until the bear turns,” Youngren said after the race. “It’s not the first time I’ve seen a bear, it’s not the first time I’ve encountered wildlife. It just meant it wasn’t going to be the race I planned.”

Peninsula pride reigns as Soldotna’s Meagan Youngren wins the 2021 women’s marathon title. Congrats Meagan and to all of our finishers Saturday!

Posted by Anchorage Mayor's Marathon & Half Marathon on Saturday, June 19, 2021

Youngren planned on picking up her pace at the halfway point, but that all changed after she had to wait for the bears. She was the second runner to the bear and used the brief break to take a selfie with a fellow runner while they waited.

“I was in the zone until the halfway point,” Youngren said. “Then I waited for ten minutes, you get a little cold, you get a little cramped up.”

The top 25 runners were briefly stopped by the bear but made it through safely. With more runners headed towards Goose Lake the University of Alaska Anchorage, Assistant Director of Athletics Ian Marks decided to stop runners.

“It was chaos,” Marks said.

Soon the Anchorage Police Department and Alaska State Troopers responded and rerouted the race so it could resume after being halted for 30 to 40 minutes, according to Marks.

“We needed to keep people moving,” Marks said.

He said they didn’t realize two bear cubs were in a tree above the trail, and that’s why the mama bear stuck around the course for so long. Eventually, the bears moved along and the race was able to get back to their normal route.

One runner who was able to avoid wildlife was men’s champion, Benajmin Kopecky. The Saint Louis runner edged Christopher Osiensky late in the race to win in a time of 2 hours, 40 minutes and three seconds defeating Osiensky by 50 seconds.

“At mile 25.5 I saw him and was able to catch him,” said Kopecky. “Last uphill I gave it everything I had, and finally came across that finish line glad to be done.”

The complete results from the Mayor’s Marathon can be found here.

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