What’s on your list of must-do Alaska races?
Ah, another year is upon us. A chance to recalibrate your fitness goals is at your doorstep. It’s a perfect moment to take advantage of last month’s Christmas gift of “time.” Decide what is important to you, and go for it.
Create and start knocking of items on your “Fitness Bucket List.” Here are six suggestions, with some liberties on execution. Distances vary in this list; it’s more about the experience and less about the time.
Run/Walk Mount Marathon: It is hands down the most prestigious event in Alaska. The largest running party in the state is held every Fourth of July in Seward. Entries are tight because of low runner turnover but one can still bid on a bib, if necessary, to be an official contestant. An alternative if you do not get a slot in the lottery is to watch the event, marvel at the athletes then the next day or week take to the slopes yourself with some friends and mimic the event. Heck, compare your time with those who ran in the race. It’s all a matter of perspective. Distance 3.5 miles total, up and down the mountain.
Crow Pass Crossing: This is an epic run from Gridwood to Eagle River. The event includes a challenging ascent to the pass with a snowfield traverse, descent toward a bone-chilling river crossing then only 13 miles to the finish line at the Eagle River Nature Center. Qualifying standards and field size exist. Alternatively, check out the trail before or after the event and see how your trek compares to those who secured a bib. Distance is approximately 26 miles.
Musk Ox Farm 5K and 10K: Visit Palmer and see the furry wildlife that’s usually reserved for the comics. The event is a real party and ambles over rolling hills past the musk oxen. Enjoy post-event music and possibly score a door prize.
Alaska State Triathlon Championships: You have eight months to improve your swimming, biking and running skills for this Olympic distance event (1.5-mile swim, 40-kilometer bike and 10-kilometer run), which takes place in Knik. Choose between the triathlon and duathlon. It is professionally staged on a fast course. And the bonus? There are no qualifying times.
Lost Lake Breath of Life Run: As noted in other columns, this is my favorite trail race, traversing just less than 16 miles from the Primrose Campground toward Seward. This Cystic Fibrosis Foundation fund-raiser will sell out by June. Definitely run or hike it pre- or post-event.
Cross Our Universe: The Anchorage Solar Traverse starts at Fifth Avenue, at the sun behind the Performing Arts Center and heads west along Fifth Avenue to Bootleggers Cove and the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. Explorers venture toward Kincaid, passing planet kiosks along the way that inform terrestrial astronauts about the cosmos. The route between planets is done to scale as part of an Eagle Scout Project sponsored by the Rotary. Do it with friends and debate whether Pluto is a planet or dwarf star. If you like gravitational pull, start at Kincaid and go downhill to the city. Heck, pretend you and your companions are aliens, then shape shift upon arrival in Downtown by tossing on dry clothes and digging into some tasty earthling treats at one of the many area eateries.
If these aren’t enough suggestion check out The Alaska Runners Calendar, which is published by the Municipality of Anchorage’s Parks and Recreation Department. It is a super resource for building your own Fitness Bucket List, and should be online by the end of the month.
To all my Running Wild Friends: Happy New Year once again, and remember: Life is not a spectator sport!
Keep striding and smiling,