Marathon Maniac #957
Okay, I’ll try to keep this brief…..
Erika offered a couple years ago to help me get up to Alaska to run the Equinox, but it just didn’t work out last year with job stuff in the way. This year we got started early trying to work out the flights. Erika very kindly offered her frequent flyer miles to get me to Fairbanks from Chicago, and all I had to do was get to Chicago. Erika even helped figure out the itinerary between different carriers – she was a HUGE help in this. I am not an experienced traveler, and for me the air travel part was the most difficult obstacle.
However, we got it all worked out, the planes didn’t crash, I finally arrived in Fairbanks, and we went immediately to the race expo:
See that lush green stuff on the ground? I hadn’t seen that in so long, I had almost forgotten what it was…
Then we went to Erika’s house. Here’s the lovely wooded street she lives on:
Her cozy house nestled in the woods:
While I was there, Erika and her DH cooked the most wonderful meals – amazing-good! Here’s a shot of the two of them. Truly, they treated me like a queen, letting me be the lazy houseguest, and I felt very spoiled.
I’m a bit jealous of her garden, put mine to shame, let me tell you. Every day we ate from it’s bounty. Those blue potatoes were amazing!:
Friday, Erika and I visited her dad and then did some sightseeing around Fairbanks, stopping to see the reindeer, who are, as Erika says, just caribou that got caught:
We also drove up to look at The Chute, and did a short run on part of the course. This is the trail right after you’ve come down the Chute and turned into the woods:
Race morning was cool and crisp, overcast, mid-30’s. Here’s as shot of Erika and I at the start:
There were a surprising amount of people running the race: 144 relay teams, 647 marathon finishers, and 32 ultra-marathon (40 mile) finishers. Here’s the start:
We were running mostly on trails in the forest. There were roots to watch for, hidden among the fallen leaves, but over all I was struck by how soft and forgiving the trail was, mostly either dirt, pine needles or bark.
We went up and down in gentle (sort of) grades until about 9 miles (I say gentle, but already my leg muscles were feeling the strain of the up-and-down), then began to climb so steeply that nearly everyone walked. The pictures don’t even capture how steep this really is, or the fact that we were all walking:
I walked pretty much from mile 9 to 13. Here’s part near the top where we had come out of the woods and were on a logging road:
Then we had a particularly wicked 4-mile out-and-back along the ridge with very steep climbs and descents. Here are a couple shots, again, you have no idea from this picture how steep these actually were:
A couple shots from the high ground:
See the Alaska range in the distance?
Here’s where we begin to descend - you can see Fairbanks in the distance:
Then finally to The Chute (this is looking down - have I said yet that these pics don’t actually capture the steepness we are talking about here?):
Not long after that, at mile 19.5, I met up with Erika’s DH and relinquished my waist pouch, camera, extra shirt, and gloves. (I have to take a moment here to say that Erika’s DH was simply awesome, dropping us right at the start – no waiting in the cold for us - showing up with water at mile #7, meeting up here at mile 19.5 with water, etc).
Here, I’m obviously dingy as hell, ready to take some ibu for my stiff and aching legs at that point (yes I was wimping out and taking ibu near the end of the race). Erika, speedy lady that she is, was already done by them, no surprise to me.
What a relief it was to drop the extra weight! Here’s me taking off then, feeling so much lighter.
Erika’s DH went back to his truck and began driving down the logging road that was part of the course, catching up to me again about a mile or so later.
And then here he catches me a little further down. My poor legs were so stiff, you can really see it in my gait.
Surprisingly, I passed a lot of people in those last 6 miles. I felt so much lighter without all that stuff around my waist, and I guess I was like the horse sensing the barn – I was impatient to get to the finish!
Here’s the elevation profile I downloaded from my Garmin:
Did she rock or what? GREAT RACING ERIKA!!!!
I probably lost 15-20 minutes stopping along the course to unzip, dig out my camera, take pictures, stuff the camera back, etc. (this got increasingly more difficult as my fingers stop working well the longer I run). However, I expect that my time would have been somewhere around 5 hours even giving it my best. This was a tough, beautiful course, set right in the most brilliant fall colors – I loved it!
So, this was quite an adventure for this Ohio girl, but really, the best part of the weekend was being able to spend some quality time with a dear friend and her wonderful DH. Thank you, Erika and Peter!!!!
Now Erika – it’s time for you to add the details of your race.
Life is a headlong rush into the unknown. We can hunker down and hope nothing hits us or we can stand tall, lean into the wind and say, "Bring it on, darlin', and don't be stingy with the jalapenos."
Wow! Awesome report, Holly! Great pictures! Fantastic videos! What a great adventure with some fantastic hosts. Man, I wish I hadn't already done my Alaska marathon...I would love to do Equinox. Thank you so much for taking the time to post all of that! CONGRATULATIONS!!!
Very entertaining report and pics, Holly. I'm glad you had the chance to do this. Nice to have a good friend up north!
Very cool report Holly,
Looks like you had a wonderful time on and off trails. Great pictures of the course.
Chumbawamba: I get knocked down But I get up again You're never going to keep me down
Nice!!! Thanks for sharing your adventure Holly
Congrats to Ericka for being a great hostess...
Courage ! Do one brave thing today...then run like hell.
Yay! I loved this! What a great report full of pictures and videos!
I really don't have a race report, but have just a few bits about my race. I've done the Equinox every year since 2005. It was my first marathon and I loved it! I did the ultra in 2009 and 2010, but it was just 50k, adding 5 miles of nice trails at the end. Now it's a 40 mile monster with those last 14 miles being extremely hilly, so I've gone back to the regular. It's our only local marathon and I was so happy to have Holly come up and run it this year.
Many of my races are good-natured competition with a running friend, Bob. We are really pretty well matched for pace, and ran a race earlier this year as a team where we finished within seconds of each other. So... when I passed Bob in the 2nd mile, I wanted to see if I could stay ahead of him. We did the leap frog thing for part of the race, but after I saw DH at mile 19.5 (I gave him my shirt and pack, too!), I took off and ended up finishing 5 minutes ahead of him. Ha! Here's the stop at mile 7 though, where Bob (in white cap) passed me for the first time.
In past years I've had a problem with getting caught up with the relay runners, who go out way too fast for someone running the full distance. I think I'm learning to take it easy and run my own race (finally). By taking it easier in the first half (lots of single track trail and the biggest climbs) I have more for the best part, the last 9 miles which are mostly downhill. I ended up passing just about all those people who were in front of me at mile 7...
Another picture Holly took that she didn't post is an awesome shot of Denali peeking out from the clouds, taken from the plane on her trip up here.
It was so much fun to have her here, but it was such a short visit. Afterwards, I thought of all the things we should have done, or wished we'd done. There's gotta be a next time, right?
Great report and photos and videos. I loved seeing those birch trees! What a beautiful place to run this time of year. Glad you got treated like a queen by Erika and her DH, you deserve it Holly.
Ok, was anyone else nervous watching those videos Peter was taking while driving?
"During a marathon, I run about two-thirds of the time. That's plenty." - Margaret Davis, 85 Ed Whitlock regarding his 2:54:48 marathon at age 73, "That was a good day. It was never a struggle."
There's gotta be a next time, right?
There's gotta be a next time, right?
I'm game if you are!
Plus - you have got to find a way for you and Peter to come down here and visit us. We have so many lovely trail races and ultras around here, it would be awesome for you to let us be YOUR hosts...
Great report!! And that looks wonderful. And i already know Erika and Peter are great...! needs to get on my list...looks like a beautiful course
Rose Colored Glasses
Great report, Holly! I loved all the video. Alaska is on my bucket list of places to see.
Leslie Living and Running Behind the Redwood Curtain -------------
Trail Runner Nation
Wow, what great reports. I was on the Equinox site looking to see what next year's date is. I'm hoping for after the 18th or so...in which case I might make it. Whether I can train well enough to finish it comfortably is another issue.
14 Days to Alaska
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Valley Road Run
Troy, it's always the third Saturday in September. Plan on it!