Homer Alaska - Sports

Story last updated at 9:46 PM on Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Runner reaches Homer

By Lindsay Johnson
Staff Writer


Photographer: Lindsay Johnson, Homer News

Matt Montavon runs past Alaska Adventure Car Rentals on Ocean Drive in Homer last Friday. Montavon's 1,100-mile adventure ended a few miles down the road on the Homer Spit.

One thing Matt Montavon learned during the course of his 1,100-mile run across Alaska is that people are generally good.

Though he did run into some dirty looks and comments about bums, Montavon was far more moved by shared stories, fruit and spare parts.

After camping with his wife, Amanda, and a friend outside Ninilchik last Thursday night, He was up and running at 6 a.m. last Friday for the last 40 miles of the trip that began five weeks and five days earlier from the top of the state.

"One of the things I think stands out is how really nice and supportive people have been and how receptive people have been for the cause," he said after the run.

Since setting out from Deadhorse on May 2 Montavon ran an average of 30 miles per day, some days more, some less, all pushing an old-school stroller loaded with gear. He took two days off. The goal of the trip, besides running across Alaska, was to raise money and awareness for the Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit, nonpartisan charity that helps injured service members. Donations continued after Montavon stopped running. As of Tuesday he had racked up more than $4,200 for the cause, $700 more than the week before.

People warned Montavon about the perils of traveling in Alaska, but the recent grad of Alaska Pacific University's Outdoor Studies program found most of his surprises to be pleasant. Truckers on the Haul Road from Prudhoe Bay gave him room and credit for trucking along the freezing way. South of Fairbanks, a man drove miles out of his way to retrieve a bolt to replace one that had broken on the stroller. A battalion of soldiers from Fort Richardson set a brisk pace as they ran with Montavon on the path into Anchorage. People sent thumbs-ups, honks, smiles and fruit from their passing cars and trucks.

"It kind of brings out the adventurous spirit in people, which is super cool," Montavon said of his excursion.

Positive people experiences like those combined with the state's spectacular scenery, made moments like running through Wasilla in 85-degree weather on Memorial Day and rude construction workers in Anchor Point dissolve into an overall cheery moving picture.

Though the left wheel of Montavon's cart—a "Baby Jogger" bought for $30 at an Anchorage thrift shop—was rolling wonky for need of another wrench to tighten it on, Montavon himself felt great as he trotted into Homer.

He figured he would be crawling or in really great shape by the time he arrived at the end of the road, but like his attitude, his body held up fine.

"I felt really good," he said a few days after finishing the run. "It was really good to be done with the road and get into the mountains."

After a eating a salmon sandwich on the Spit, Montavon loaded in the car for the drive north. After two days unpacking, cleaning and repacking at their cabin in Palmer, Amanda delivered him to the Alaska Mountaineering School in Talkeetna, where he'll begin a six-day mountaineering course today. Next Friday, Montavon and a group of wounded warriors will fly in to Denali National Park for an attempt on the summit.

More about Montavon and his trip may be found on his website, www.endorphinchase.com. Learn more about the Wounded Warrior Project at www.woundedwarriorproject.org.