Gary Krugger, a 27-year old runner from Flagstaff Arizona, established a new course record at the 5th Annual Madison Marathon on July 22, 2012 in Montana. Krugger’s winning time of 3h 12.28 broke the existing record, set by Elliot Welder in 2010, by just over three minutes. The Madison Marathon is the highest road marathon in the country with an average elevation of over 9,000 feet above sea level.
Placing second was Mark Handelman of Missoula, Montana with a time of 3h 25:09. Handelman placed 5th in the 2011 Missoula Marathon. Rounding out the podium and taking third was Eric Huff of Sheridan, Montana with a time of 3h 38:17. Huff was the winner of the 2009 and 2011 Madison Marathon.
Lena Petersen of Bozeman, Montana triumphed in taking the women’s crown in her first attempt at the Madison Marathon with a time of 4h 39:31. Placing second was Bonny Doerfler of Polson, Montana with a time of 4h 47:35. Rounding out the podium and placing third place was Jamie Wieferich, of Bozeman, Montana, in a time of 5h 00:10.
There were more than 150 finishers in this year’s Madison Marathon. The race is held on the Gravelly Range Road in the Beaverhead Deerlodge National Forest in Madison County in Southwest Montana. The starting line of the race is over 9,200 feet above sea level. There are only 13 states in America with mountain peaks higher than the race’s starting line. The route tops out at nearly 9,600 feet and the finish line is at 8,550 feet. The entire route is on a good quality gravel road and is not a trail run.
In the five years of the race, the route’s elevation and hills has had a huge impact on runners. Most runners say that the elevation and two to three mile-long uphills add from 45 minutes to one hour onto their usual times. For the half marathoners, most agree that at least 30 minutes will be added because of the route.
The hard evidence is in the numbers. There have been 179 marathon finishers since the inaugural race in 2008. In total, there have been just 10 runners who managed to break four hours (nine men and just one woman – Debbie Gibson from Helena Montana).
“Part of the appeal of this race is the challenge of running at such a high elevation. I frequently tell runners that they may record a PW, but most of them ultimately won’t really care because the other appeal of the race is the incredible beauty of running on top of Montana,” said Sam Korsmoe, the race director of the Madison Marathon.
Every year, many 50 State Club and Marathon Maniac members run the race. The 6th Annual Madison Marathon will be on July 28, 2013.