Saturday, July 7, 2018

Anchorage Mayor's Marathon

Two weeks ago I checked off my tenth state by running the Anchorage Mayor's Marathon. My in-laws live in Alaska, so it wasn't my first trip up there, but it was my first time racing! This is one of the most popular marathons in the state, and has a reputation for seeing wildlife along the course (moose and even bears!), so I was pretty excited about it. Plus, with our temperatures at home starting to creep into the low 100's, I was really looking forward to running in some cooler weather!

The race was on Saturday, so we headed up there Thursday evening, getting in around midnight on the summer solstice - where it was still very much light outside! On Friday, we headed to the race expo to pick up my bib, and then spent the day with family - including my cousin-in-law and his wife, Shella, who was also running the marathon the next day!

You just can't beat the views on the flight to Alaska!

This is what midnight in Anchorage on the summer solstice looks like.

Getting my bib at the race expo!

I was up at 5:30 on Saturday morning to leisurely get ready for the 7:30am start. We left around 6:30 but since it was pretty cool out (high 40's), I stayed in the car until 7 when I decided to get out and make my way through the bathroom line before lining up for the start. I was happy to see Skirt Sports Ambassador Jennifer, who was doing the relay, and get a quick picture with her!

As I lined up for the start I found Shella and we chatted a bit in the few minutes before the start. Right at 7:30 we were off - I was hoping for sub-4 hours, but overall, I didn't have any major goals for this race. With some ultra's coming up, I really just wanted to just use this as a long run and enjoy myself while taking TONS of pictures (mission accomplished)!

The race started at a high school northeast of Anchorage and we had about 1/2 mile on the road around the school before getting onto a bike path for the next couple of miles. The bike path ran right along the Glenn Highway and felt pretty congested since we were still early on in the race and not very spread out yet. Despite the highway traffic, the views of the surrounding Chugach Mountains were great as we made our way northeast before turning off the bike path and heading southeast around Mile 3 1/2.

Lining up at the start line.

I think this sign sums up running a race in Alaska pretty well!

Running along the bike path next to the highway.

We ran over the highway and on a paved road for a couple more miles before getting onto a dirt road from from miles 6-13ish (if my memory serves me right - I need to start typing up my race reports earlier so I can remember this stuff!). This dirt road was great though and offered some views of the mountains with a lot of trees as well.

Around 13, we went over a bridge before getting onto an actual trail for the next couple of miles. This was definitely my favorite section - it was gorgeous with lush green trees everywhere and lots of wildflowers. I made sure to keep my eyes and ears open for wildlife but never ended up seeing any!

My miles might have slowed significantly through here because I kept stopping for pictures…

We got off the trail around 16 and made our way down a paved road and then back onto another bike path for a short section before running along some roads for a few miles. This section was my least favorite because after being secluded on trails and in the trees we were back in an open, urban environment with traffic. Thankfully that section was short and we eventually made our way back onto another bike path that took us almost the rest of the way to the finish line.

One of my favorite pictures I took - the trees were so dense!

One of the more "urban" sections I didn't enjoy too much.

Finally, around Mile 25, we ran by a pretty lake (I wanted to get a picture, but being at Mile 25, I didn't want to stop), where we joined in with the Half Marathon runners before having 3 short but steep hills (had I been on fresh legs they wouldn't have seemed so bad, but being 25+ miles into a marathon made them rough). My watch had been a little off from the mile markers, so I wasn't sure how much more we had to go and as such, I didn't push the hills as much as I probably could have because when we got to the top of the last hill, the finsiher's shoot was right there - I ran across it - finishing in 3:58:27. Shella ended up finishing right behind me by only a couple of seconds!


Shella and I at the finish - she did really good especially for her first marathon!

Race: Anchorage Mayor's Marathon
Date: June 23, 2018
Distance: Marathon (26.2 Miles - my garmin clocked it at 26.47)
Weather: Low 50's at the start, high 50's at the end, and fairly humid
Gun Time: 3:58:40
Chip Time: 3:58:27
Average Pace: 9:06 per mile
Overall Place: 154 of 613
Gender Place: 28 of 235
Age Group Place (F30-39): 7 of 38
Splits: 9:09, 8:44, 8:32, 8:33, 8:31, 8:48, 8:52, 8:20, 8:52,8:43, 9:37, 8:24, 9:42, 10:24, 9:29, 8:43, 9:01, 8:57, 9:26, 8:55, 9:03,8:58, 9:09, 8:56, 8:58, 9:12

Overall, I really liked this marathon. It offered a nice variety of running surfaces - from paved road, to paved bike path, some minimal concrete, about 6 miles of dirt road, and 3-4 miles of actual trail. I would say the course would be slightly challenging to try and PR on due to the mixture of terrain and the fact that there were quite a few significant hills throughout, with an overall elevation gain of about 800 feet. The one thing I was surprised by was that there actually weren't that many mountain views since the majority of the race was ran through a lot of treed areas. However, if you head up here to do this race, I'm sure you'll be doing a lot of other exploring to get your mountain views in! I personally did not end up seeing any wildlife, but I heard that a couple of people did see a bear (I think I'm grateful I wasn't one of them). I think the race was well organized and well marked, my only complain was that their website information was a little lacking.

The rest of our visit was mostly spent relaxing and spending time with family, with a couple short trips to scenic areas, including seeing a moose (always a highlight). Thanks as usual to my in-laws for hosting us - it is always fun to visit such a beautiful place! If interested in hearing about any of my other trips to Alaska, check out the bottom of my Scenic Trips page.

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