Golden gait

by • August 31, 2012 • UncategorizedComments (0)926

For its complexity, varied terrain and scenery, and as one of the most northern marathons in the world, the Fairbanks Equinox Marathon has always been a feather in the cap of long-distance runners. Now, having reached a landmark 50th running, Equinox has the prestige of age. This year’s races begin at 8 a.m., on September 15, and organizers are delighted to host such a milestone run. An increased turnout is expected.

“We’re hoping we get a little bigger crowd and a little more interest than normal,” said John Estle, co-director of the event.

One reason for that is runners can expect additional fun to celebrate with some new vendor involvement as well.

“We’re planning on doing an expo with the bib pick up,” said Estle. “There will be a few shops and booths there.”

Some of the historical founders and early racers may want to pay a visit, too.

“We’re going to have a reception for past champions and some of the founders from the early days,” Estle said.

Event organizers are expecting individuals in their late 50’s and early 60’s with fond memories of the original races to turn up the heat in 2012, and all runners will have one of three races to choose from.

The entire event is comprised of a marathon, ultramarathon at 60 kilometers, and a marathon relay that provides the aspiring marathoner a way to get in on the action without overexerting oneself. The ultra was increased from 50K to 60K last year to facilitate a race only true ultra-runners could love and endure.

Runners come from all over for these races, some annually.

“We have 50 or 60 living life members, and a very high percentage of them come back every year,” Estle said.

As of mid-July, registration numbers were looking high.

“So far our online registrations are over 150, and we’ve gotten people from all over,” said Estle. “We have several entries from overseas, places like German, Japan and England, just to name three. And we’ve gotten several from states in the Lower 48.”

Their course takes them along paved roadways within Fairbanks. Exiting town, runners transition into the more technical park and forest trails. The intensity increases as climbs and descents are tossed into the course with a climactic summit of Ester Dome. On clear days Mount McKinley can be seen to the southwest before runners then make the journey all the way back into town for the finish. Few footraces can compare.

“It is one of the oldest continuously run marathons in the country,” Estle said.

He also cites the adventurous terrain features, 1,500-foot climb and descent, remote location and required racer skills as reasons Equinox is such an attractive and unique race.

“A runner really has to have a full arsenal of skills to be at the front of the pack for the full race,” said Estle. “I think that is quite different from marathons that are all on trail or all on roads.”

For 2012 the race will include more off-pavement racing than ever before. It is estimated that less than five miles of the course uses paved roadway, making Equinox far more leg friendly than before.

The full story of this marathon which dates back to 1963, and the registration link, can be found on the Fairbanks Equinox Marathon website,


—Justin Matley


2011 Champions

Men: Matt Dunlap, 2:51:22.2
Women: Laura Brosius, 3:27:47.4

Men: Gary Holton, 5:55:18.4
Women: Laura McDonough, 6:32:09.5

Marathon Relay
Team: Novelty Sized Bananas
Ben Nelson, Devin McDowell, Chad Carroll, 2:47:52.5

Event registration

Find registration forms on the Equinox Marathon website,, or register online, Entry fees range from $35 to $125 depending on date of entry, membership status and race.



4-8 p.m.
Registrations, spaghetti dinner and bib pickup at Pump House Restaurant

6:30 a.m.
Race day registration opens (no relay or ultramarathon registrations)

7 a.m. Racer briefing in athletic field near UAF student recreation center
8 a.m. Race
6 p.m. Finish line closes, awards banquet begins at UAF Wood Center
7 p.m. Awards ceremony begins
8 p.m. Awards ceremony ends

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