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Race lives up to reputation for being dangerous

Posted: July 10, 2012 - 12:00am
Men's competitors in the annual Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2012, in Seward, Alaska, struggle up the mountain. The race is an annual tradition, with runners competing to be the first to run up the top of the 3,022-foot mountain and then race back down. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)  Mark Thiessen
Mark Thiessen
Men's competitors in the annual Mount Marathon race on July 4, 2012, in Seward, Alaska, struggle up the mountain. The race is an annual tradition, with runners competing to be the first to run up the top of the 3,022-foot mountain and then race back down. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

ANCHORAGE — This year’s Mount Marathon Race is living up to its reputation of being a treacherous scramble up and down the shale-covered sides of a 3,022-foot mountain.

One man is missing and another race participant remains hospitalized and in a coma with life-threatening injuries from a fall, KTUU-TV reported Monday.

The official search for Michael LeMaitre, 66, was called off Saturday, but volunteers and local firefighters intend to continue looking for the Anchorage man. He vanished Wednesday during the annual Fourth of July race.

A 72-hour search of the mountain using tracking dogs, technical climbers and helicopters turned-up no sign of LeMaitre. Searchers worked under the assumption that he had possibly wandered off the trail and suffered a fall.

The odds of the man, who was wearing only a T-shirt, running shorts and shoes, surviving four nights with wet weather and temperatures dipping into the 40’s are not good. All 20 square miles of the mountain were examined without any sign of LeMaitre.

Infrared imaging of the mountain also failed to locate him.

Alaska State Troopers announced Saturday that they have canceled their search. The Alaska Mountain Rescue Group also has given up looking for LeMaitre.

But Seward Fire Chief Dave Squires told the Anchorage Daily News that the fire department will continue the search by first compiling all the information gathered so far. That information includes high-resolution photos of the mountain. The department also will start taking names and phone numbers for anyone interested in helping with the search this week.

LeMaitre’s family has said he was racing as a rookie and welcomed the challenge.

Meanwhile, Matthew Kenney, a 41-year-old father of two from Anchorage, suffered brain injuries and a compound fracture of his leg in a 30-foot fall while descending the mountain.

Kenney remains in critical condition at Regional Hospital in Anchorage. Doctors have been draining fluid from his skull, in what appears to be a successful effort to relieve intracranial pressure, KTUU reports.

Family friend Brad Precosky said Kenney has taken part in eight Mount Marathon races and understood the risks.

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