Sunday, June 27, 2010

Mayor's Midnight Sun Marathon Race Report

Here is our race report and pictures from the Mayor's Marathon on Saturday, June 19, 2010 in Anchorage Alaska.

We arrived in Anchorage on Tuesday, June 15th and we were lucky enough to stay until Tuesday, June 22. We stayed with Bethany's parents who are in AK for the entire summer with the motor home (yes, they drove to AK from Cape Cod, MA).  We really didn't know what to expect for the race, although we heard a couple of interesting things about this course beforehand. We heard that it was hilly, and half of it was through rocky trails through the woods. We also heard that numerous grizzly bear maulings had occurred in the Far North Bicentennial Park, which we run through for a few miles during the race.

So, we got to Alaska on Tuesday and had a couple days to see the sights, beautiful mountains, walk on glaciers, acclimate ourselves to the time change, enjoy the midnight sun, and get ready for the race.

The race had a relatively small expo at a local Anchorage hotel, with some vendors and bib pick-up. The most interesting (and somewhat disconcerting) table at the expo was a table addressing Bear Awareness, and what to do if we encountered bears along the course.

Saturday morning, June 19th, we got to the race start about an hour or so before the race, and much to our surprise, there were only two other runners there already. I guess things are a little more laid back in Alaska. Most of the other 1,000+/- runners sauntered into the starting area with around 20-30 minutes before racetime. We did get to meet fellow blogger Becca from "Running Becca."

Our race plan was to just go with the flow, and kind of take whatever the course gave us (and avoid getting mauled by a bear.) So we enjoyed the first 7 miles which ran along bike paths along the highway, we cruised these miles around 9 min/mile pace. Then at mile 7, we took a turn into the woods, and that's when things got interesting. The next 10 miles or so were on extremely rocky (and somewhat hilly) trails through the woods. I'd compare it to running on a crushed golfball-sized rock driveway. (I still have bruises on the bottoms of my feet.) There were bear droppings everywhere, we had to cross a couple small creeks, and at points the trails narrowed down to some serious singletrack. We kept our eyes open, but didn't see any bears, thankfully. We slowed down a bit in this section, but picked things up a bit once we got out of the woods, to finish the last few miles on bike paths again. We finished with a time of 4:17:09, which put us around 300th out of 1000 runners. Our goal was to finish between 4:15-4:20.

The only complaint I have was that the race shirts were not given out at the expo, they were given out after the marathon. In addition to the marathon, there was also a 1.3 miler, 5 miler and a half marathon, all three races finished much earlier than the marathon, obviously. By the time the marathoners had finished, all the small T-shirts were long gone. I (Bethany) thought that was pretty lousy and very unfair. Not to down play anyone's accomplishment, but the marathon runners ran the furthest, did the most work and paid the most, it's not fair that there were only Large shirts left when we finished. I think races should give out the shirts at the expo, that way if you are worried about not getting the size you want, you just get to the race early. Fair and square. Well, the race shirts were realllllly cheap anyway so as soon as I saw them I didn't care about getting a big shirt. They were white cotton with a TINY logo on the front. Good thing we bought nice Brook's shirts at the expo! :-)

Overall, it was a fun race. Nothing too special about it, aside from the location. After the race, we refueled with some mix1, which we brought all the way to AK with us. We also got some AWESOME race pictures! Including a great one of us holding hands while crossing the finish line.

All in all, it was an amazing vacation, such a beautiful area, and we're already thinking of heading back someday to run Alaska's other marathon (Humpy's Marathon?).

We still can't believe what an amazingly beautiful place Alaska is. The whole trip was wonderful and still feels surreal. Originally we said it was a 'once in a lifetime vacation,' but we know we will definitely go back again someday!!!

 Pre-race, sporting out RaceMenu gear 

 The start line
Taken by Bethany's parents at mile 18

Mile 23 (mom and dad surprised us here! Thanks!)

Running to the finish

 He's fine, just taking a little rest :-)

**A special CONGRATS to Steve Taylor for finishing the Western States 100 Miler today!! You can check out his blog here**

Have a good week everyone!!


Mel -Tall Mom on the Run said...

Wow CRAZY! I cant imagine having to look out for bears....UGH! And the rocky conditions..URGH!

GREAT time for the both of you, fun pictures. Check off Alaska..

sorry about the shirt, I fully AGREE with you.. Maybe put your input on

Amanda said...

Awesome race report. Sounds like you had a good time despite the threat of bears and tough course conditions.

That is too bad about the shirts - I am looking at a race that does the same thing and I wasn't overly thrilled by the fact that you don't get them until after the race either and now I can see where it might be bad.

I would love to get to Alaska at some point for a race!

Alee said...

Sounds like you guys had a great time. It's so cute that you held hands crossing the finish line!!

Jill said...

Love the RR, sounds like a great time...and so glad you didn't see a grizzly! I was running there a few years ago and thought the same thing...please don't run into a bear!! Glad you got to spend a week there, how fun. And driving to AK from MA? That had to take like a month! Congrats!!

Marci said...

Sounds like a fun race... minus the rocky conditions on the trail! Congrats!

Jennifer said...

Congrats! Sounds like a great race and you did well, bummer about the t-shirt! Cheers!

Johann said...

Super run and report! Well done! Thanks for sharing, it all looks just wonderful.

Jen said...

Wow, sounds like an amazing race. I bet it was just beautiful. The bear thing sounds a little scary, but it seems like you handled it well. Too bad about the bruises on the feet, that's rough. What were the temperatures like?

misszippy said...

Congratulations! What a cool experience that you shared together.

Marlene said...

What a uniqie experience! I have always wanted to see Alaska. Pretty scary about the grizzlies, though! Congrats to you both!!!

Katie A. said...

What a cool race! Congrats!
Silly question maybe, but did it start at midnight or in the am? Just curious!
And crazy having to watch for bears! No thanks! You are def hardcore for that!

MCM Mama said...

Awesome! We leave for alaska soon and I can't wait. I'm not running a marathon, but I am definitely looking forward to some runs up there.

Denise said...

awesome!!! on you nailed your goal! glad you guys had fun!

Katye said...

SUPER cute last picture! That must be involved in your wedding at some point =) you guys should label your tables at the reception by the different races you've run haha

Morgan said...

I can't believe you had to worry about bears! So insane! Sounds like overall it was a great race though and an even better vacation! Congrats on another marathon finish! You guys are my couple hero's! :)

EricaH said...

Great race report sounds like a beautiful destination to race in aside from the watching out for bears

Ms.Droark said...

I'm an Alaskan, mayor's is tough but Humpy's is flat and fast COME BACK!