I had the good fortune to run the 55th annual Equinox Marathon in Fairbanks, Alaska last weekend. It was absolutely gorgeous, due to the fall colors. Birches--white bark, yellow leaves. Aspens. Pines. Yellow everywhere, with long views across interior Alaska.
The race is a community treasure for Fairbanks and Alaska. The race has a 10 hour time limit, which is long for 26.2 miles. This is because when it started--and today--the race has always been for "Runners, Joggers, Hikers and Walkers." Matias Saari, a former winner, recently published a book on the event, which looks terrific: "The Equinox: Alaska's Trailblazing Marathon." Once upon a time, aka the '60s, the marathon was the largest in the world for three years.
The event has a little bit of everything: trail, road, hills, flats. I think it has about 3000 feet of elevation gain. Temps started at 35, and climbed to 60 or so, but always with a brisk breeze. It is Alaska, after all. Find me another place where they nail thermometers to trees on the course. Probably for colder times, but it made me laugh.
Every mile of the course is marked by a permanent sign, sponsored by listed individuals/family. Aid stations every couple miles. About a 1000 runners, when counting the three part relay, which is run simultaneously. A way cool patch at the finish line. A banquet in the evening.
My friend Tony ran the relay. It was great to meet up with him briefly beforehand. Running strong, as ever. Me, not so much. But I ran, I jogged, I hiked, and I walked. The combo. 26.2 is a little bit more than I should be doing, but give me enough time, and I'll find the finish line, which I did. Despite the blisters, I'm happy about it.
The first half is more challenging than the second half, with most of the climbing happening between miles 8 and 12. A fair number of beer aid stations on the course. I saw a six pack sitting in the woods at one point. Mt. McKinley aka Denali was visible from the high point on the course--a pic below as it, but it's hard to pick out. There is one gnarly, steep power line drop, called The Chute, at mile 18, which I loved. The pic above is a view from the chute, as you go down. Love those colors.
I threw a few other pics below of my visit to Fairbanks. The Museum of the North at University of Alaska-Fairbanks is worth the visit. It has some really good patrons, including the Gates Foundation. I was taken by the art, which mixed elements of traditional native art with modern day themes, sometimes edgy. I also found time to visit the Alaskan pipeline.
After the race, I took the Alaska Railroad from Fairbanks to Anchorage. I'll put a few pics of that incredible 12 hour ride up in a separate post.
I'd run the Equinox again. Fairbanks in September is spectacular.