Alaska Foot & Ankle Specialists’ Dr. Jared Kern is gearing up for his second Mt. Marathon Race in Seward, Alaska. Dr. Kern last competed in the race in 2014.
The Mt. Marathon Race was first organized in 1915. Since then, it has grown into a popular Independence Day tradition. Race participants start in downtown Seward, running towards the base of Mt. Marathon and up 3,022 feet of switchbacks and chutes towards the peak, before running back down the mountain. The course includes areas of extreme difficulty, with steep inclines and loose rock and shale.
The challenge of Mt. Marathon is well-known in the running community, even outside Alaska. “People around the world know about Mt. Marathon,” says Dr. Kern. “Anytime I’ve traveled to races outside Alaska, people always ask me about it.”
Dr. Kern, who has been training as much as his busy schedule will allow, says he is confident he can beat his last time. But his top objective is to land in the top 225 finishers, which automatically positions him for future races. Otherwise, participants are selected by lottery.
Dr. Kern has been a runner his entire life, an interest that indirectly led to him becoming a foot and ankle doctor. “My uncle was a podiatrist,” explains Dr. Kern. “After he treated my shin splints in college, I decided to do a day of job shadowing.” It was then that Dr. Kern decided a career helping others with their foot and ankle problems was something he wanted to do.
As a doctor, Dr. Kern says sprained ankles are a serious concern when it comes to trail running. He suggests taping or an ankle brace, and encourages adventurers to wear trail or running gaiters to keep rocks and debris out of their shoes.
When asked why he would participate in such a grueling race, Dr. Kern doesn’t skip a beat: “I like to run. Mt. Marathon is hard, but fun to do. And it’s a measure of your fitness level.”
Good luck to Dr. Kern and all the Mt. Marathon participants!