By Hassan Aboukhadijeh
Amjed Aboukhadijeh of El Dorado Hills won the Moose’s Tooth Alaska Marathon during the Big Wild Life Runs in Downtown Anchorage, Alaska which took place Aug. 17.
More than 3,000 runners toed the line to compete in the states largest running event; participants had the option to choose between a half-marathon or full marathon. The marathon attracts many locals as well as hundreds of runners from out of state. The event is part of the 50 States Marathon Club in which individuals aim at completing a marathon in every state around the country — Alaska being the 49th state.
This year’s overall marathon winner was Aboukhadijeh, who graduated from Oak Ridge High School in 2010 before competing in Track & Field at UCLA. Aboukhadijeh’s time of 2:45 was extremely impressive as he managed to out-run the other runners in the race, including many of Anchorage’s own top athletes. The race was competitive the whole way before Amjed made a big move to the lead around the 20-mile mark.
“I felt really smooth and knew I had the right training under my belt to make a move to the front that would be tough for the other elite runners to match,” Aboukhadijeh said as he managed to open up a slight lead on the field going into the final mile of the race.
Less than 5 minutes from the finish line, the cold, wet and rolling hills of the course took a toll on Aboukhadijeh and his lead began to shrink. Heading into the home-stretch of the race, thousands of eager spectators cheered the local on as he managed to hold off the competition before crossing the line and winning by an 18 second margin. The victory was only Amjed’s second marathon of his life and first marathon win.
It was an all-around great day for Californian’s as the female winner of the marathon was Santa Barbara resident Christina Knapp, who placed first for the females in an impressive time of 3:17.
The 26.2 mile race begins and finishes in the heart of downtown Anchorage, making it a prime location for spectators to watch the event. Live music and great food from local restaurants provided the entertainment for the large crowd of people waiting anxiously to see their loved ones finish the marathon — a truly great honor that less than 1 percentof the world can make a claim they have ever completed.
Despite the unfamiliar terrain and unpredictable weather of Alaska, the event was a great success. Not only did many participants find themselves setting lifetime personal records on the course, the race succeeded in attracting a lot of people to the beautiful city of Anchorage.