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Another injured Mount Marathon racer was hospitalized in Anchorage

Craig Medred

With Mount Marathon runner Michael LeMaitre lost and now presumed dead, and with racer Matt Kenney still in a coma in an Anchorage hospital, it has been revealed there was yet another runner who suffered serious injuries in the legendary July Fourth race on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula.

The Seward City News, a local online publication, Tuesday posted a note from the boyfriend of 34-year-old Penny Assman from Salt Lake City, Utah, who was hauled off the mountain on a backboard: 

Penny's injuries include: Lacerated Liver, Internal Bleeding, Several Broken Ribs, MANY scrapes and bruises (right side), and gash on her forehead. I am Penny’s boyfriend of four years; I witnessed the entire event and was fortunate to help load her on the spine board and carry her down the mountain. She was taken to Seward Hospital; Dr. Martinez, the staff, and Anchorage Volunteers (Orange Shirts!!) there did a fantastic job going to work on Penny. Due to the nature of the internal bleeding and the potential for her condition to deteriorate to a state that required surgery, they flew her to Providence Alaska Medical Center early morning on 5 July.

She and I spent five nights in the hospital. She spent the majority of her first three days sleeping; she was heavily medicated and on an ice chip-only diet. By day four, she was allowed to eat a clear fluid diet, and she walked for the first time on Saturday, 7 July. From there she progressed steadily.

Assman was discharged from the hospital on Monday, but remains in Anchorage. Her boyfriend's post said, "We are staying in the area as our doctor in Anchorage would like to see her once more before we fly home to Salt Lake City.''

Her boyfriend noted, as have others, the danger of the cliffs where the race course leaves Seward roads and starts up the mountain.

"Based on the speed with which Penny came down the cliffs, it could have been so much worse," he wrote. "We are still desperately seeking the name of a female EMT standing at the base of the Cliffs. She can be seen in photos preparing to break Penny's fall. We truly believe she is the reason why Penny's injuries were relatively non life-threatening."

He added that he was a little surprised race organizers made "no effort" to check on Assman's condition after the race. 

Memorial for missing Anchorage racer presumed dead

Officials have said they are reviewing what happened this year and considering changes to Mount Marathon next year.

LeMaitre's wife, Peggy Oaks, published an obituary celebrating the missing 66-year-old racer's life and announcing a memorial service, scheduled Friday, July 13 at 7 p.m. at Anchorage City Church. Oaks describes her missing husband as an adventurous man who loved Alaska, "his family, the outdoors, his dogs, sailing, hiking" and community events. 

She also said that besides fulfilling his longtime dream of running Mount Marathon, LeMaitre completed in the Iditaski (now known as the Iditarod Invitational), another Alaska extreme sports race, for which he won the Sportsmanship Award. 

Contact Craig Medred at craig(at)alaskadispatch.com