Gary Holton


Describe your experience with the Equinox.  Have you participated in the full marathon, the relay, and/or the ultra?  How many times?
 
I’ve run the marathon three times starting in 2005; the relay (1st leg) once; and the 40 mile ultra course once.

When do you start training for this race?  How much of the course itself do you incorporate into your training?  How often do you incorporate the Dome into your training?
 
I usually transition to running in late March, right after the Sonot Kkaazoot. I run portions of the course regularly, including the Dome at least once per week.

What are your key workouts in preparation for this race?

Long runs, hill repeats, tempos, and track intervals. A marathon really requires a combination of all of these workouts. Lately, though, I’ve been incorporating a lot more hill work. The Dome is great, but there are other good climbs in Fairbanks, like the Moose Mountain ski hill.

What’s your favorite thing about this race?

The energy! I’ve never encountered a race with such energy — from runners, volunteers, spectators. It’s just a great time, all the runners in the crisp Fall air, reflecting back on a season of running, thinking ahead to what the coming winter will bring.

What’s your favorite part of the course? Your least favorite part?

I love cresting the top of the Dome and heading out the out-and-back. I usually feel a surge of energy here (though it doesn’t always last). Least favorite part has to be the descent down Henderson road. My
quads are thrashed and I find it hard to keep a quick pace on the pavement.

Describe the best moment you’ve experienced during this race. Describe the worst.
 
So many good moments that it’s difficult to choose. The worst had to be bonking at mile 24 on Goldhill Road.

Do you consider yourself a competitive runner? What are your running goals/fitness goals?

As someone who started running later in life I continue to be amazed at what the human body can do. I may not get any faster, but I’ll continue to explore the limits.

What’s the best advice or training tips you can share with others who are new to this race?

Here’s my advice for people wanting to transition from the Marathon to the Ultra. (1) slow down. Drop you marathon mile pace by 30-60 seconds. (2) go long. Unless you’re Geoff Roes or Ellie Greenwood,
ultra running is more about time on your feet than about running. Get used to being out for 4, 5, or 6 hours on your long runs, and don’t be afraid to walk. (3) learn how to fuel your body. See if you can eat a PB&J while climbing the Dome.

Have you made any big training errors, or race day flubs that adversely affected your enjoyment or time in this race?

Going out to fast. I know it’s a cliche, but it’s a trap I often fall into. Those first eight miles are such a joy to run that it’s easy toget sucked in to going faster than I should. Best to take a reality check at mile 1 and get settled into a realistic pace.

Any plans on participating in the Equinox this year? This race has been described as one of the most grueling marathons in the country! What keeps you motivated to participate in this event?

Unfortunately, I’ll be out of town for the 2012 event, but I’ll certainly be back again. This is a fantastic race, and though it’s still mostly a local event, I expect we will see increasing participation from outside Fairbanks in years to come.

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Bruce Gard

 

Kristen Bartecchi Rozell

Describe your experience with the Equinox. Have you participated in the full marathon, the relay, and/or the ultra? How many times?

I’ve participated in the full marathon every year I’ve lived in Fairbanks except a few years when I was sick, injured, and those years I crewed for friends or took times for the relay- I think I’ve run it 12 times. I’ve never done the relay or ultra.

The Equinox marathon is a very special event for me and has marked every year I’ve been in Fairbanks, starting from when I came up for graduate school and didn’t know anything about the race. My advisor, Ed Murphy knew I was a runner and told me I should do it. I’d never done a marathon, and hardly ran all summer, but I signed up the night before the race. I couldn’t believe how tough the course was and I had many unusual pains during that race. The last six miles my shoulder was too sore to support the weight of my arm, so when nobody was looking I would carry it with my other arm. I still really enjoyed that race- the trails, scenery, and the vibe from the spectators and participants. I was hooked.

At the finish of my first Equinox I was also introduced to Ned, who I later married, and years later for an engagement gift he gave me a lifetime bib. Now we have a 5 year old who’s completed the course 3 years with her father and dog.

When do you start training for this race? How much of the course itself do you incorporate into your training? How often do you incorporate the Dome into your training?

I would usually start training mid-April. I run on the course a lot, but mainly because I live right on it and I prefer running on trails. I usually run the Dome many times over the summer.

What are your key workouts in preparation for this race?

I’ve been part of John Estle’s running group most years that I’ve lived in Fairbanks, so that’s ensured that I did weekly hill workouts or intervals on the track. I would usually do 3-4, 20+ mile runs, and at least one of those runs would include 5-8 miles and then up Ester Dome.

What’s your favorite thing about this race?

It’s in my backyard, and it always feels like a friendly race even when I’ve been competitive. I haven’t run many other marathons, but this one has many things I like- trail-running, good competition, fall colors, and cool temps. I love that young people, older people, and folks of all fitness levels and abilities come out to run/walk and everyone supports each other. At my house, this has also become a weekend event starting with the Pump House spaghetti feed. We usually host runners from Anchorage or the lower 48, and I enjoy hearing their stories of the race. We haven’t had any visitors who didn’t want to return to run the Equinox again.

What’s your favorite part of the course? Your least favorite part?

My favorite parts are of the trail sections and uphills. My least favorite are the pavement sections and the “back” of the out-and-back.

Describe the best moment you’ve experienced during this race.

I’ve had many great moments during this race, but I remember the year I ran my best time (3:30) I felt good from start to finish. Usually my race is a bit more of a roller-coaster.

Describe the worst.

I don’t think I’ve had a “worst”. One of my more difficult years I had a problem with my hip that I never experienced before or since. The last 9 miles, one hip felt like it was ratcheting up so tight it wouldn’t move anymore and I had to keep stopping and rubbing it. I limped the entire rest of the course. But misery loves company, and fellow runner Karl Olson was having a rough race too -starting when he slipped on ice and I saw him tumble out of sight on the out and back. We leap-frogged that last 3rd of the race with our staggered stops and starts. Jamie Hollingsworth kept my spirits up by running with me for about 3 miles in his logger boots and carhartts.

Do you consider yourself a competitive runner? What are your running goals/fitness goals?

I consider myself competitive. I’m working through an injury that kept me out of running for a year, so my current goal is to try to keep that problem at bay and stay healthy enough to keep running.

What’s the best advice or training tips you can share with others who are new to this race?

If you’re running competitively, run all sections of the course so you know what to expect. Make sure you have a good base of long runs, intervals, hill workouts. Don’t run the course or Ester Dome too much or you might hate it all by race day. Wear layers- it’s always a cold start and sometimes very cold Ester Dome and then a much warmer finish. Drink regularly- that was very good advice someone gave me my first year. Sitting in the Chena River is great post-race recovery.

If you’re not competitive, don’t be afraid to try this marathon. Even if you have to walk parts of it or all of it- it’s still an accomplishment. Its always a beautiful day and you’ll get lots of support along the trail. If children under 10 can complete the course and my neighbor did it on crutches, I think almost anyone can complete it if they want to.

Have you made any big training errors, or race day flubs that adversely affected your enjoyment or time in this race?

One of the years I trained the hardest I wore shorts on a cold morning and my legs were glowing pink and felt stiff the whole race. Another year I entered the race just days after getting over swine flu and had to drop out at the top of the Dome because I was having trouble breathing.

Any plans on participating in the Equinox this year? This race has been described as one of the most grueling marathons in the country! What keeps you motivated to participate in this event?

If I’m not away for work I’ll be out there.

I’ve never regretted participating in the race. Even when I didn’t perform as well as I hoped there are always lessons to learn from the experience.

Kristen with family, Ned and Anna.


Beth Zirbes

Describe your experience with the Equinox.  Have you participated in the full marathon, the relay, and/or the ultra?  How many times?

My first experience with the Equinox was as a volunteer. I held a stop sign at the Musk Ox crossing. Since I was running for UAF I couldn’t run the race for a few years, but I knew that I wanted to immediately. The first time I did the race was in 2008 as a relay. I thought that running the downhill leg would be “easier” but I was VERY wrong. I wore racing flats (very silly of me) and I trashed my legs. Of course, I wouldn’t let myself slow down and by the end of the race I was in a lot of pain. My calves were so sore that my husband carried me up and down the stairs for a week. In 2011 I ran the full race for the first time. Ironically, I was less sore after running the full marathon. 

When do you start training for this race?  How much of the course itself do you incorporate into your training?  How often do you incorporate the Dome into your training?

I train more or less all year long. I don’t follow a very rigid plan, but I do try to plan most of my workouts. As soon as the snow is off of the course we are out there running most pieces with our dogs. We live at mile 20-21 of the course which means that we do a lot of running on the Henderson/Alder Chute portion. The “dome” gets incorporated into some long runs and as a stand alone workout as well. 

What are your key workouts in preparation for this race?

I haven’t really gotten the training “down” yet, but I think that the long runs are key. I think that in addition to helping my body prepare to run for four hours these long runs help my mind prepare as well. 

What’s your favorite thing about this race?

I love the trails. 

What’s your favorite part of the course? Your least favorite part?

Running down the alder shoot after coming down the cute. I also really enjoy the view coming down Henderson. 

Describe the best moment you’ve experienced during this race. Describe the worst.

The best moment was coming down the chute in last year’s race and realizing that I wasn’t too tired. It was so much fun to be able to really run down the hills. 
 
The worst? I hope to never have one of these moments. 

Do you consider yourself a competitive runner? What are your running goals/fitness goals?

Tough questions. Yes! (Or, at least I like to pretend to be!) My running goals are not very specific at this point in time.  After a few years really “off” I am just enjoying getting fit again and running new distances. I would like to race a half-ironman triathlon new year.

What’s the best advice or training tips you can share with others who are new to this race?

Don’t run too fast on long runs. Too often I see people running their long runs at “race pace” and I think that this is a really easy way to burn yourself out. 

Have you made any big training errors, or race day flubs that adversely affected your enjoyment or time in this race?

I started too fast in last year’s race. It wasn’t a huge flub, but I got caught up in the crowd mentality. I then was passed by a lot of people for the next two miles and it really killed my confidence. Thankfully, I slowed down and recovered by the second half of the race. 

Any plans on participating in the Equinox this year? This race has been described as one of the most grueling marathons in the country!  What keeps you motivated to participate in this event?

Yes! I signed up a few weeks ago, but I have been planning on racing ever since finishing last year’s race. My motivation? The race forces me to train, the pressure of the competition helps me run on days when it is difficult or inconvenient due to the constraints of work/life.


Michelle Mitchell

Describe your experience with the Equinox. Have you participated in the full marathon, the relay, and/or the ultra? How many times?

I ran the Equinox from 1996-2002. In 2003, I moved to Wasilla and started running Chicago in the fall in 03-05 for time. The first time I ran Equinox was only 10 days after I had just moved from Chicago to Fairbanks to teach at West Valley. I had spent that summer training for something around 3 hours in Chicago, got the call to work, scrapped Chicago, and had a very rough awakening in my first Equinox-it’s a HARD course! Oh, and it snowed to boot!

When do you start training for this race?

I would run nice base miles in the winter and do hill repeats once a week at West Ridge til the snow melted just to keep fit. Come April, I’d start training for Humpy’s /Equinox.

How much of the course itself do you incorporate into your training?

I was gone an awful lot of those seven summers. I only spent two of the seven in Fairbanks, so I never did lots of training on the Dome in the summer. My Equinox best in 2002 of 3:31, I did after summer grad school in Moscow. I lived near the very VERY hilly 1980 Olympic cycling course at the time and did hill work and long runs there. I also did a 30k mountain running race outside Moscow that has an elevation gain and drop of nearly 3000m of up and 3000m of down over the 30k. I hurt more after that than the Equinox! My course record of 3:01 still stands from 2004-to give you an idea of how difficult that 30k course is.

How often do you incorporate the Dome into your training?

See above. I ran the Dome more in the winter sometimes just to get above the inversion on cold days! If you can’t run the Dome in the summer training months -find other hellacious hills and make friends with them. Between the cycling course in Moscow and the the mountains near Middlebury,VT (where I was all those summers), I was still able to get in good hill work.

What are your key workouts in preparation for this race?

Ironically, all that work plus speed and long runs were prep for a fast Humpys in August. I always knew it would be cool there (never hot) and the course was fast. There was usually about 4 weeks between Humpy’s and Equinox and I came back and did Equinox on whatever I had left after Humpy’s. I would do 2 hard workouts a week making one of those hard workouts hill repeats every other week. I sometimes did longer races as tempo runs and got in at least 2-3 long runs a month of about 20 miles. West Ridge is great for hill repeats!

What’s your favorite thing about this race?

The scenery, the cool weather, the smells of fall…and the VIEW from the top of the Dome! Love the view just before the Chute too!

Your least favorite part?

The sledding hill at the beginning! The Chute if it snows and ice is involved!

Describe the best moment you’ve experienced during this race.

The year I PRed. I think I started out as far back as 9th and just kept working my way up. I was pretty stoked.

Describe the worst.

Toss up between trying to negotiate a very slick and snowy Chute in 96 or in 97 when I managed to pick up a chest cold 2 days before the start.

Do you consider yourself a competitive runner?

Is the sky blue?

What are your running goals?

I like to keep challenging myself to continue improving as much as I still can. I thought those days of PRs were done, but I’ve very recently started PRing again at short and long distances. This year’s Bucket List includes going for a 100KPR (that’s done finishing 25th in the Euros and 38th at Worlds), go for a 50k PR again at the World Cup series in a month and try to win Lativan NCs again ( I am a dual national competing for Latvia since 2010). If I do Chicago 50K late fall, I want to go after the CR. Next yr at 100k Euros, I’d like to see if I can eek into the top 20.

Fitness goals?

Maintain or improve on where I currently am. Next year – hopefully altitude training before the 100K Euros in March and get as far under 9 hours as I can. Someday…I’d like to see if I could do a 100miler.

What’s the best advice or training tips you can share with others who are new to this race?

Get in hills, intervals, tempos, and long runs. Keep training consistently. It takes time to really build strength and endurance. Race day- never change your plan or try anything new.  This means nutrition wise especially! Go out conservatively in the first half – don’t overwork the climb between 9-13. If you run smart, you should have a nice reserve left to hammer from the bottom of the Chute to the finish. Oh, and be sure to familiarize yourself with the course before you do it. I never got to train on the course before I first ran it, but John Estle was nice enough to drive me along the course before the race so I could see what I was getting into.

Have you made any big training errors, or race day flubs that adversely affected your enjoyment or time in this race?

Yeah, running the race cold turkey 10 days after moving from the FLAT Midwest-OUCH!

Any plans on participating in the Equinox this year?

Never say never. I’d actually like to try the 50k sometime.

This race has been described as one of the most grueling marathons in the country! What keeps you motivated to participate in this event?

The challenge and the support on the course!

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Corinne Reinhard

Describe your experience with the Equinox. Have you participated in the full marathon, the relay, and/or the ultra? How many times?

Yes, I’ve run the Equinox marathon, maybe 5 times or so…I can’t really remember! The race consisted only of the marathon when I ran it. Then they started adding the relay and I guess now the ultra after that! So I didn’t know any better and just ran what it was at the time—Equinox Marathon.

When do you start training for this race? How much of the course itself do you incorporate into your training? How often do you incorporate the Dome into your training?

I can’t really recall when I started each year training for this race, but it was what runners were doing at the time so I just followed everyone else’s cue……We were all on the same schedule. I suppose we started in May or June when the weather got good. I remember running the Dome often and it was a regular part of my training..the road or the trails around there…….Sometimes we ran most of the course–Up to around 20 miles.

What are your key workouts in preparation for this race?

Gradually increasing distance in the runs and repeated running of the actual course–long runs.

What’s your favorite thing about this race?

When I lived in Fairbanks it was the only marathon and it was the culmination of the running season for runners. We always had a great community of runners and I trained with some great people who taught me a lot and pushed me. This race cost 10 dollars and most of the races in town were either FREE or 10 dollars at the most. When I moved away, I couldn’t believe that people actually paid so much money to run races!!!!! We were a tight knit running community. Everyone knew everyone and everyone’s abilities!!! We were also very supportive of each other. We were friends!

What’s your favorite part of the course?

The OUT and the down hill.

What’s your least favorite part?

The BACK.

Describe the best moment you’ve experienced during this race.

Each time, Finishing!!! We also had some brilliant days to run.

Describe the worst.

I remember one time…I think my first marathon up there, where I didn’t eat or drink and finally up at the top of Ester Dome, I really needed something, and my friend brought me a banana, but I just couldn’t eat ….I suffered!!!! Felt horrible, but finished!?

Do you consider yourself a competitive runner? What are your running goals/fitness goals

I was more competitive back then when I was running the races in Fairbanks, although I never ran the Equinox to “race” it. I always ran just to be able to finish it. I am competitive but only to a point. When it starts to hurt, I always seem to let the others go on ahead!

My current running goals are just to get out and stay fit. I don’t do races anymore….(or rarely) and my fitness goals are perhaps the same as they’ve always been….stay strong and enjoy being outside! I ride my bike now more than before, so I am riding and running almost daily, but not excessively. I’m not compulsive.

What’s the best advice or training tips you can share with others who are new to this race?

Give yourself lots of time to work gradually up to the distance you’ll be running and do the course in your runs. Patience. If you get injuries, such as tendinitis etc. STOP running, back off and let things heal. John Estle who kindly coached a few of us, once told me that it was just as useful to hike if you can’t run…..So if you have injuries, I think go that route. Do your homework…your long runs are key.

Have you made any big training errors, or race day flubs that adversely affected your enjoyment or time in this race?

In the Equinox, my main error was not eating and drinking enough. In another marathon, I went out too fast and ran the pace of the half marathoners in the first half, and then died, the last half. Another mistake I made was to run the full course a few weeks ahead of time and I felt great….but then on race day was dead! I’d run my race on that previous training run and didn’t have it in me for race day!!! Don’t do that!!!

Any plans on participating in the Equinox this year?

No, I live in Boulder, Colorado now and don’t run to do races. It would be fun to be part of that great community event however!!!

This race has been described as one of the most grueling marathons in the country! What keeps you motivated to participate in this event?

For me, it was always a natural progression for the summer running season that all of us tried to do…such a great community thing—we were friends. Since we all knew each other it was always very motivating….It put a closure to the race season in Fairbanks! Plus, the course is BEAUTIFUL!!! And, yes, a challenge!

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Marla Statscewich

Marla at the Musk Ox Farm.

Describe your experience with the Equinox.  Have you participated in the full marathon, the relay, and/or the ultra?  How many times?

I’ve been bike support for many friends and my husband over the years, but two years ago, I started to do the relay with my friends Georgina and Stacey. Our team name is the Funky Felines and we have a great time together…I’ve always run the first leg, George has done the second and Stacey brings it on home with the third. So this year will be my third relay.

When do you start training for this race? 

I usually start training after the Beat Beethoven run…it’s great encouragement to run all summer.

How much of the course itself do you incorporate into your training?

We usually run most of the course over the summer in 5 mile legs so we all run each others legs.

How often do you incorporate the Dome into your training?

We usually run up together once a summer but since George is actually running the uphill portion, she does it more than once. We’ve done the out and back together a few times and have also run the alder chute a few times but mostly, we stick to the trails near campus because we all work there.

What are your key workouts in preparation for this race?

I would say it’s pretty key to run down Ester Dome…it seems like it should be easy but I’m always torn up after, so I think it’s good to work those downhill muscles.

What’s your favorite thing about this race?

I love the weather, the time of year and doing it with my friends. The hand-off at each station is so much fun!

What’s your favorite part of the course? 

I love coming down the hill towards the musk ox farm and hearing people cheer!

Your least favorite part?

Running “up the hill” on the road near Ann’s greenhouse. I know it’s nothing compared to the Dome but it always feels really hard reaching the transition point and my team mates.

Describe the best moment you’ve experienced during this race.

Our team came in 10th out of 49 women’s teams last year and that was pretty sweet.

Describe the worst.

Can’t really think of a bad experience I’ve had during this race, but it’s always challenging getting to the top of the dome in time to cheer my team mates on.

Do you consider yourself a competitive runner?

No…I’m a closet competitor. I’m only competitive when other people don’t know I’m racing them.

What are your running goals?

I would like to be able to run my leg faster every year.

Fitness goals?

I would love to do an Ironman race once in my life.

What’s the best advice or training tips you can share with others who are new to this race?

Run on all the trails if you can. If you are doing the whole thing, make sure you run up AND down Ester Dome. Don’t miss the turn-around for the out and back during training.

Have you made any big training errors, or race day flubs that adversely affected your enjoyment or time in this race?

The first time I ran the relay, I hadn’t ever run up the sledding hill near the SRC and that was kind of tough because I didn’t realize how long that hill is. My husband and I started together and he got me to the front of the pack where everyone is running and I wanted to keep up with him but just couldn’t. The second time I did that start, I was stuck in a pack of walkers but wanted to run and that was sort of frustrating.

Any plans on participating in the Equinox this year?

Hope to run it again with my team mates but since it’s the 50th anniversary, we might need to find another person to run up the Dome if George decides to do the whole thing.

This race has been described as one of the most grueling marathons in the country!  What keeps you motivated to participate in this event?

The course, the trails, the people cheering the runners on, and most importantly, running with my friends.

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Stacey Baldridge

Stacey at the finish of the Breakup Tri in 2012.

Describe your experience with the Equinox.  Have you participated in the full marathon, the relay, and/or the ultra?  How many times? Relay, 2 times. Third leg both times.

When do you start training for this race? I train all year, but ramp up the miles in May-June until the race.

How much of the course itself do you incorporate into your training?

90%. I love trail running, and it is so much more fun. We train together, and like to take turns on each others running sections.

How often do you incorporate the Dome into your training?

Once or twice- we do a car swap, she runs up, I run down.

What are your key workouts in preparation for this race?

Practicing downhill running- getting my quads prepared for the third leg. And pushing just a little further than I normally would, because 9 miles is pretty far for me!

What’s your favorite thing about this race?

The weather!!! I also love following my team, and other racers and cheering for them. I love costumes, too. Anyone who is wearing a costume will get a huge holler out of me :)

What’s your favorite part of the course?

 Just after the alder shoot to the bottom of Henderson. The view is fantastic!

Your least favorite part?

Running up Goldhill. The powerline water/drink station is a cheerful stop.

Describe the best moment you’ve experienced during this race.

Finishing over 15 minutes faster in 2011 than I did in 2010.

Describe the worst.

I saw a woman fall in front of me out of exhaustion 300 feet before the finish. It was heartbreaking.

Do you consider yourself a competitive runner?

No, not at all. I never really ran until a few years ago, and I just do it because it makes my legs look good. HAHA!  No, I love the camaraderie, and cheering others on. I’m just there for the fun of it.

What are your running goals?

To finish my first ½ marathon in Seattle this summer!

Fitness goals?

Maintain a strong heart and mind.

What’s the best advice or training tips you can share with others who are new to this race?

Practice running downhill! It might seem ridiculous, because obviously running downhill is easier on your heart and lungs, but it will tear up your knees and leg muscles. Make sure you’re ready for it.

Have you made any big training errors, or race day flubs that adversely affected your enjoyment or time in this race?

Always do a long practice run in the outfit and socks you will use on race day. I wore shorts that rode up, and got a pretty nasty inner-thigh rash! Oops! Won’t do that again. It didn’t really become noticeable until about mile 7, and then I realized what had happened.

Any plans on participating in the Equinox this year?

Yes! Funky Felines are getting trained up and ready for the relay!

This race has been described as one of the most grueling marathons in the country!  What keeps you motivated to participate in this event?

It is absolutely the peak of fun for my running season. The cheering fans, the gorgeous fall weather, and the smiling packs of runners- both pro and slow.  I can’t think of anything else I’d rather do in the fall, than run through the trails at UAF! (I know, I’m super sappy). And my boss won the ultra last year. Kinda makes me feel like I need to step it up ;)

Stacey (center) with her Equinox relay teammates, the Funky Felines, pre-race in 2011.


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