Category Archives: last name S

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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Bob Perkins


Stian Stensland

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 it twice.  The first time was in 2009 – I was over here for a year of my Ph.D., and this year I’m back to prepare for my post-doc., and when I’m here (Stian lives in Oslo,Norway) I run the Equinox.

This year, we ran out as a group. I was feeling pretty fast in the beginning there.  Some people pulled away at the top of Ester Dome, but I was able to pick up the speed and catch Matias and Chris during the last part going down Henderson and Gold Hill Road. I was a couple of minutes faster in 2009, but I just pounded the ground and messed up my legs.   It was more of a positive feeling this year. It was two different experiences.

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?

In 2009, I started training on the course a month prior to the race.

I’ve had this year’s marathon in my mind for three months, so I started doing some longer runs in June after I finished my dissertation.  I was following a marathon schedule up until this last month when it got pretty busy at work, and then I got sick when I got over here from Oslo two weeks ago.  I was on the out and back a couple of times, and also, had a long run up Ester Dome and back.  I’ve been on every part of the course this year.

What are your key workouts in preparation for this race?

Get two to two 1/2 hour long runs in with varying speed, with about one hour of this at threshold or marathon pace.  Run your last one a couple of weeks before the race.  And I try to do general threshold runs two to three times a week for 30 to 40 minutes.  Sometimes I train more than once a day so I get eight to nine workouts in a week.  I ski a lot in the wintertime, and don’t run that much during the winter.

What’s your favorite thing about this race?

It’s the atmosphere.  All the people along the course cheering you on even though I’m from Norway.  Even though my support group wasn’t able to get to the top in time, there were other people there feeding me, and that was nice!

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

I probably have to work more on the hill section, especially the downhill.  When it’s so steep and you’re running on trails… that’s pretty technical, and you have to be able to let go.  If you break too much, you cause a lot of harm, and that really gets to your quads.  My best parts are the flat parts because I’ve been running a lot of track.  

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

Best moment was getting out to the forest after the chute, and getting onto Henderson and Gold Hill.  I was feeling pretty good because I moderately went down the chute, was able to pick up speed, and surged by Matias on the downhill section.  Two years ago, I went pretty fast down the chute, and then cramped up when I got down to the road.  My legs were toast and I wasn’t able to catch anyone that year.  

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

Yes!  Back home, I’ve been running track.  I competed in Nationals a few times.   I want to keep up my running ability.  This year, a lot of my emphasis was on finishing my Ph.D. in June.  I’ve been training fairly well, but focusing on my Ph.D. was a load on my mind and body.  If you work a lot, you can’t train as much.  Rest is something more than not training.  You need to rest your head, too.  

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

Many people are going too fast.  If you’re a beginner and you’re breathing really hard, that might be an efficient workout, but psychologically hard because you’re pushing it.  So the workout feels hard, and I think that many people feel it’s too hard to go running.  So if you start moderately, then you may feel better about it.  If you walk a little bit, you’re still moving.  You need to pick it up gradually.  When you’re able to run for awhile, like up to an hour, you should also do some threshold work.  Try to run 30 to 40 minutes at threshold level – 25 to 35 heartbeats below your max. Many people go too hard on that. 

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

I was teaching a field course back home and that was quite a lot of stress getting that finished before getting over here.  So I got sick traveling.  I shouldn’t have pushed it too hard before traveling. That was a mistake.  

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?

Right now, I cannot promise that because I don’t live here.  It’s pretty far away – a 10 hour time difference!  I know it’s the 50th anniversary.  Never say never!  In 2013, my wife and I plan on coming back for a year for my work, and I’ll run it then.

Well, I’ve been 2nd place twice!  It’s the main event of the Fairbanks running community.  This if my fifth time in Alaska, and it feels a little bit like home.    

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Stan Justice


Andrea Swingley

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 was the 3rd leg of the relay, and I dragged my sister up here from D.C. to do the first leg, and that was the year of the yellow jackets.  She got stung by them; I didn’t.  She said it made her run her last mile faster because of all the adrenaline!  This year will be my third full Equinox.

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’ve only done it with Team in Training, so I start when Team in Training starts in the spring, usually in May.  I was never a runner before, and I still do a lot of walking.  I start training late spring when the dog mushing season ends because I’m also a dog musher.  I run the Dome whenever the team runs it, and we cover the entire trail through the course of our training, so we have seen every bit of it.  I live off of Miller Hill, so I tend to run those areas of the trail.  And working on campus, I’ll often go over and try to torture myself with the hill at the start, and run that whole first part of the trail when I can.

What are your key workouts in preparation for this race?

The Team is out there a lot on the trail and getting familiar with it, making sure we do the out and back at least once if not more than that.  Having enough trips up Ester Dome is how you get a feel for what you’re doing and how long it will take you to do it.  We usually do an 18 to 20 mile peak workout.

What’s your favorite thing about this race?

The people.  Everybody says that I know, but it’s the people.  It’s just a Fairbanks event and it makes it so special.  I just love it.  

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

My least favorite part of the course is the out and back, but the good thing about the out and back is you see all these people.  That’s the redeeming factor.  That, and the cookies! 

My favorite part of the course is the trail right after the chute.  The trees, and the smells, and the rotting cranberries, and the leaves turning golden… The peacefulness and the beauty of it.  There are such interesting smells: rotting cranberries; somebody mowing their lawn; someone having their wood stove going…

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

Yes, and they’re kinda the same.  It was finishing my first full Equinox; it was my first marathon ever, and it didn’t go as planned.  And that was because I stopped on top at mile 12.5 and used the Porta Potty up there which I will never ever do again.  After that, my right IT band gave me trouble and in force.  So I hobbled the remaining 14 miles of the marathon.  It was extremely painful, but still extremely amazing because of all the support I got from my team, the coaches, the people that I knew out on the trail.  Ned Rozell ended up passing me.  His wife, an old friend of mine, would drive past and check on him and then come back and check on me, and then go check on him.  I was in such pain, but all these people were doing what they could to encourage me to the finish, and be there at the finish some eight hours 40-something minutes later.  It was amazing.  

I’m going to try to find a tree to lean on instead of squatting so it doesn’t happen again!

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

No, not in the least.  I still have to be talked into calling myself a runner.  My fitness goals are to stay healthy, and to have fun doing it.  Make the load a little lighter for my dogs if I can.  In terms of my running goals, keep getting out there and having fun.  I’m a big advocate of the Team in terms of what we do and why we’re out there doing it, and that’s what got me to finally get off the couch in the first place.

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

Enjoy the beauty; enjoy the people.  Stay on the trail!  Don’t go off the trail!  That’s how the yellow jackets got stirred up!  Enjoy the whole community and the Equinox atmosphere.  It’s so special.

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

It’s hard to make training errors when you’ve got the Team coach looking out for you.  Race day – not yet, but there’s still time!

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?

You bet!

It’s hard, but if you know that and train on it, it makes it easier because you know what to expect.  I keep coming back because it’s beautiful and fun.  I like the challenge.

This interview was conducted on September 16, 2011, the day preceding the 2011 Equinox Marathon.

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Ashlee Homan


Mark Simon

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

I’ve never done the relay or the ultra.  I’ve run the full marathon two or three times.  

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’m inconsistent at training.  One year, I trained with someone who was doing one of these regimented internet training plans and I would do what he was doing.  Otherwise, I start two to three months before.  I try to be more consistent about longer distances.  I’m not really a long distance type of person.  I would run the course a lot, and maybe run the Dome five or six times.  

What are your key workouts in preparation for this race?

It’s getting in distance, because I more naturally run for 30 to 45 minutes, so I had to force myself to get over that hump, and be out there for up to 2 1/2 hours.  Having a regimen and having to do an 18 mile run on a certain day was really useful.  And like most things, it’s more mental than physical.  The biggest challenge is mental, and staying out there and getting in shape.

What’s your favorite thing about this race?

This race is Fairbanks.  They go hand in hand.  It represents everything great about Fairbanks: the people, the event, the challenge, the fall colors.  It’s a little microcosm of Fairbanks tied up in a couple of hours.

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

I don’t think I have one.  Although I don’t love the chute, it’s a defining part of it, and certainly, you feel so much differently at the bottom of the chute than you do at the top.  If it ever disappeared, it would be a little sad.  I love it all.

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

Whenever I finish something like this that’s a challenge, it’s a euphoric feeling when I’m done.  I haven’t had any complete crashes on the course.  It’s a great event to be a part of.

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

I consider myself an internally competitive runner.  One year, Greg Finstad and I were neck in neck in running so we had some fun external competition.  I like to feel like I’ve run hard and competed well.  I like to be active.  I recently got exposed to this whole ultra thing which isn’t really natural for me.  I’m toying with the idea of going less hard for longer.  It doesn’t have a natural appeal, but it combines more of an experiential event with exercise because you’re not at that point of nausea or utter fatigue.  Getting up to those higher mileages at a slower pace is a different level of pain.  More like a chronic pain than an acute pain!

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

Being out on the course and doing it is a good thing.  Like most things in life, sometimes there’s an intimidation factor and people talk themselves out of it.  As one of my professors said a long time ago, you got to keep showing up, and if you keep showing up, then eventually you accomplish things.  Knowing the course makes it a whole lot less intimidating, and you can break it down into parts that are very manageable. 

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

One of the Equinoxes I did, I got a little underfed and under-watered, and that hurt.

When I had the race that I felt I did well in, I think the key was coming back from the out and back with something left in me.  To still be able to be strong after the out and back means you can take advantage of the downhill. Whereas if you get done from the out and back without energy then you got this long downhill and you can run out of steam.

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?

I wanted to do the ultra, but I tweaked my knee and am very slowly trying to get better.  I will be at the crossing at Ballaine helping all the ultra runners.  I look forward to seeing them all out there and cheering them on.

Again, it encompasses Fairbanks.  Being a part of an event that is so representative of Fairbanks is something I want to do.  From a physical point of view, it’s always good to have those challenges out there to achieve, and this is always a challenging race.

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Mike Kramer


Roy Strandberg

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

I’ve done the full race twice.  I’ve done the relay three or four times.  I think I’ve done the first and second legs, never the third.

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?

It’s been a few years since I’ve done the full race, about four or five years ago.

I started preparing for it in April.  The relay legs are such a short distance, there’s no special training.  I ran the Dome a fair amount.  I still run the Dome once or twice a year.

What are your key workouts in preparation for this race?

The long runs – three or four 20 milers.  

What’s your favorite thing about this race?

I did the group training runs, and those were always fun.  It’s a nice time of year.  It’s a time I associate with running cross-country in high school.  I like the smell of the air that time of year.  It’s usually cool and running is relatively easy.

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

My favorite part is coming off of Ballaine – going up into the woods there between Ballaine and the Skarland Trail and down the long road just down from Miller Hill.  My least favorite is the out and back.

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

The two times I did the full race, I did not have a very good time.  The first year, I twisted my ankle and fell on my face, and later on I stopped to take a p*ss and p*ssed all over myself.  My body broke down.  I was almost in tears at the end from being exhausted and frustrated.  The second year was even worse.  That was a really smoky year and I wasn’t physically prepared.  I ran by my wife, and basically wanted to crawl in the back seat and get in the fetal position.  

The relays are always fun.  I’m usually a pretty strong uphill runner so I enjoy running up Ester Dome, and I’m usually able to make up ground with people.  

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

I consider myself a semi-competitive person.  Specifically, in running I’m more competitive, but it’s all in good fun.  My competitive spirit doesn’t really motivate me, it’s more just the enjoyment I get out of running and being outside and the solitude.  I like to enjoy the physical environment that I’m in while I’m running.  

I’m always trying to run under 18 minutes for a 5K, and under 38 minutes for a 10K. Those goals have eluded me for the past couple of years, but I’m always chasing after the holy grail. As far as general fitness goals, if I continue to make a good effort in making my specific running goals, then my overall fitness goals will be pretty well covered.

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

It’s very difficult physically and emotionally to dedicate a whole season preparing for it.  It’s much more difficult than a 20 mile training run, so just be prepared for that.  But it’s definitely a worthy goal to pursue. Having done it, I feel it’s a significant personal accomplishment.

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

Maybe I didn’t think enough about calorie replacement during the race.  I definitely felt like my gas tank was completely empty, and I could have brought some GU to maintain more energy.  Being a shorter distance type of guy, this was not something I thought about.  I prefer to run unencumbered by water bottles and GU packets, and the stuff a lot of people tend to carry for longer distances.

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?

No solid plans.  The past few years there’s always been something else going on that gets in the way.  I’ve been licking my wounds from my last bad experience, but the ups and downs in running any race is inevitable.  

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Michael O’Brien

 


Curtis Seelen

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

I first ran the Equinox marathon in 2005 after having wondered about it for several years.  I was not very athletic up until that point and I wanted to train just to finish it.  I made the mistake that first year of not training very much on the trail itself and on race day it kicked my butt.  The thing that amazed me was the great people that come out to cheer everyone on and that is what made me decide to run it again the next year.  I’ve run it a total of three times so far.

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 as soon as the trails were dry.  The summer races in and around Fairbanks are a great way to get into shape for the race.  After the first year I started running almost exclusively on the course itself.  Some of my favorite segments are from the University to the Musk Ox farm and from the base of Ester dome through the out and back.  I found Steve’s Training runs to be key in helping me to be successful in the race.  After June, I would always try to run up and down Ester Dome at least once a week.

What are your key workouts in preparation for this race?

My key workouts were just running the course itself while preparing for other races around town, such as the Santa Claus Half Marathon and the Gold Discovery run.  I found that these two runs in particular gave me smaller goals that helped me keep motivated through my training.

What’s your favorite thing about this race?

My favorite thing about the race would absolutely have to be the people.  I have never participated in another marathon that had quite the same feeling of community as in the Equinox.  A close second is the beautiful scenery, especially in the out and back and after the chute.  The smell of the fall leaves when the air is crisp and cool can’t be beat.

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

My favorite part would have to be the out and back.  It is probably because I make a point of training on it quite a bit.  One great piece of advice that I got from one of the Equinox winners was to be ready for the out and back because it can break you if you are not prepared.  The part of the course that I dislike the most would have to be the chute.  No matter how many times I tried, I could never go down that section fast.  I know that some people were able to literally fly down that steep descent, but I was always the person who slowly picked his way down carefully.

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

I think the best moment that I have ever had during the race was everytime I finished it.  Sure I had different time goals as I ran it each year, but ultimately I felt just as successful each year I finished regardless of my time.  The worst moment was the first year I ran it in 2005, and I got a big rock stuck in a cavity underneath my shoe coming down the chute.  I noticed that my one foot felt differently when it landed but I was so focused that I didn’t slow down to figure out what was different.  When I got to the pavement the extra pounding of landing on that rock with each stride basically crippled me, forcing me to walk the last four miles.  When I finally finished and pulled off that shoe I saw that rock sticking out about a quarter inch from my tread.  I felt somewhat sheepish for not stopping to figure it out, but now I won’t let something like that happen again.

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

I don’t consider myself a competitive runner at all.  I run mostly for fitness but I do try to beat my previous times if I can.  I usually try to stay fit enough year around so that I can run several half marathons and at least one full marathon each summer.

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

Get out on the trails.  You really can’t prepare yourself for this race with out hitting the trails.  So many unexpected things can happen on the trails that it is best to experience most of them before race day.  Also, I would highly recommend Steve’s training runs.  Such a great group of people shows up and there are runners of all ability levels, so you will always have someone to run with.  I think that the cameraderie that develops during the training runs really carries through to the marathon.

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

Well to go back to worst moment answer from before it would be that darn rock!  I would just have to say, if something feels wrong while you are running, slow down to figure out what it is.  Running a few miles is very different from a marathon and small issues can add up to big issues fast.  Now my shoes no longer have big cavities in the soles that large rocks can get lodged in :-)

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?

No plans on participating this year as I now live in Minnesota, but I hope to be back soon to see how well I can still do.  I try to run as many trail races in Minnesota as I can but nothing can really compare.  There is one marathon on the North Shore of Lake Superior, called the Moose Mountain Marathon, that comes close so I will have to settle for that.  The motivation for races like the Equinox really comes from the people and the great course.  They can’t be beat!

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Roger Sayre


Andy Sterns

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

I have not run the ultra.  I’ve run the relay once, and I’ve run the marathon numerous times.  I don’t really keep track.

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 think I’m always training for the race.  I’m skiing in the winter and I’ll start running in the spring.  I ride my bike in the summer.  Lately, I hardly train on the course at all, unless someone wants me to, then I will. But I almost like it better that way, because the day of the race, I’m more excited to see the parts of the trail that I haven’t seen since the previous year. And lately, a lot of times when I run up Ester Dome, I just run straight up the road so I don’t even see that section of the trail but once a year.  

What are your key workouts in preparation for this race?

I actually don’t have any key workouts, but there are a few key races that I do.  If I do well in them, then I’m ready.  I don’t know if I’ll do Gold Discovery this weekend, but usually I do that because it’s a longer one. And I like to do Granite Tors; and Steve’s Sunday Equinox run, the final training run for the Equinox.

What’s your favorite thing about this race?

Seeing everybody.  The Fairbanks’ running community is the best.

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

My favorite part of the course is either going up Ester Dome, or else the out and back.

My least favorite part is when you make that left-hand turn at the bottom of Henderson to start coming up Gold Hill.  I usually feel terrible there.

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

Every time I cross the finish line seems like the best.  I’ve been faster some years, but I didn’t necessarily feel any better about the race than when I’ve been slower; just happy to finish.  

The worst was twice I’ve started the race when I would’ve been better off not.   I had injuries and hadn’t run in weeks, or even months.  I figured I would be okay, and then it didn’t work out well.  I caused myself unnecessary injury.

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

I’m definitely not a competitive runner, although I like to do as well as I can.  My running and fitness goals are just to keep going. 

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

There’s definitely going to be sections of the race where you’re going to feel terrible, but you just have to keep going and enjoy seeing people and enjoy the day.  It seems like unless you’re hurt, you can find a way to grind it out to the finish, and you’ll probably feel better at some point during the race.

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

One year, I decided I was going to try eat one GU every mile.  It worked out pretty well until mile 20, and then my stomach rebelled on me.

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?

I am planning on running the race this  year.  It marks the change of the seasons.  It’s a fun event, and I get to see everyone out there.

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Kevin Yetman


Bruce Sackinger

Joe, Karl, and Bruce Sackinger ready for a winter run up the Pipeline Trail in January, 2011.

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

My experience with the Equinox began when my Mom took me along in about 1978. I recall hiking it 4 or 5 times, and then half-running it in ’83 or ’84 during the Stan Justice/Bob Murphy years (Bob Murphy taught the other half of my “Core” class at Ryan Jr. High back then). I think my best was a little over six hours, when I ran it with Jeremy Crooks, who, as he and I both still recall, delighted in referring to my tiny blue nylon 1970′s backpack as “Maggy the Maggot.” Even though I’m a pretty avid runner now, I wish the hikers still showed up in the numbers they used to. That’s probably what I’ll be doing in 30 years if I’m not as tough Jim Madonna ;-), and I’m sure I’ll enjoy it just as much. After living Outside for almost 20 years I moved back in 2009. One of the first things I wanted to do when I got back was the Equinox and, because I had taken up running during my expatriacy, I decided to try running it. I had worked for Jack Townshend at the USGS back in ’89 and remembering the obvious joy he got out of running inspired me to do a lot more of it. I might have been in decent shape for a 5K that year, but I was pretty under prepared for the marathon and ended up with a 5:30. The next year I ran a lot more and did all the Northern Trails Series races over the summer. I ended up tweaking my achilles tendon around the Gold Discovery Run, and spent the rest of the summer just doing races and recovering from them rather than training. I recovered enough to pull a 4:46 on the Equinox. It was a great improvement, but I was aiming for 4:00. My brother Joe has held the family course record for as long as I can remember. He improved it to a 4:37 last year, I think because he was worried I might beat it ;-). Sackingers have collected a lot of those patches for a long time.

To directly answer your questions: I’ve only ever participated in the full marathon, and have done it 7 or 8 times. 

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?

Last year I started on the treadmill in February. After the marathon I took about two months off to heal the achilles completely, and then started running outside in late November with the Fahrenheit-be-Darned RCN group and haven’t stopped–or set foot on a treadmill–since. I incorporate various parts of the first half of the course regularly into my training. I did the Dome several times this spring. I’ll probably concentrate on it more again as the marathon approaches, but I’ve been getting plenty of elevation gain elsewhere so I’m not too worried for now.

What are your key workouts in preparation for this race?

I’m not sure, but I’m looking at doing even longer (i.e. 15-20 mile) runs this year, combined with lots of hill work. Last year my long runs capped out around 12, and I think that was why things fell apart on the Out and Back. I’m also trying to run slower sometimes on purpose, though I find that really hard.

What’s your favorite thing about this race?

There’s something special about running in the fall. The Equinox itself can be surreal: it’s like a special gift for Fairbanksans once Alaska knows the tourists are mostly gone–sort of a peace offering to the natives for the darkness and 50 below to come. I love the incomparable exhilaration of running for hours upon a frosty yet usually sun-dappled blanket of leaves.

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

I have to give you two. I love the section from above Dalton Trail to the MuskOx Farm. I can always open up there, and it’s quite scenic, even if there are more houses there now. The section from the Chute to Henderson is just amazing, but lately I haven’t had much left once I got there. I’d love to get rid of all the pavement on the course, so Gold Hill has to be my least favorite. I also hate the cattle chute on the University ski hill at the start; I don’t think it needs to be quite that constricting to assuage UAF’s sledding safety/liability concerns.

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

My best moment was last year, when I met my goal of hitting Ullrhaven in 2 hours. Things fell apart on the Out and Back after that, but that wasn’t the worst. The worst was the first time I did it, when I finished after the cutoff. I was about 8 or 9 at the time, almost no one was left by the time I reached the end, and I was practically in tears. Someone gave me a patch anyway. I’m glad they made a small child exception that time–it would have been devastating otherwise. Don’t tell anyone ;-).

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

Yes, but I’m more a runner than competitive. I’m always eager to see how I do against others, but I don’t agonize over a less than stellar performance. There are always people faster than me, it’s just a matter of how many. I’m pretty sure I’ll never reduce that to zero, so that can’t ultimately be my “raison de courir,” if that’s how you say it.  Anyone who finishes a marathon, much less the Equinox, is probably ahead of 90% of the general population, so as long as I do that I consider it a win.

I have an arbitrary goal of running a marathon in 3:30. Kind of a tall order for the Equinox, but it’s my favorite and most accessible marathon, so that’s what I’ll try to do. I doubt I’ll hit that this year, but I think I’ll get closer. I’ve always wanted to bench press 315 pounds and do a one armed pull-up too, but I weigh about 35 pounds less than I was when I was close to doing those, so I doubt I’ll check those off any time soon. Doing a five minute mile was on my list too, but I put that on there before I knew how hard it is. I think in another 5 or 10 years I’ll probably just switch to staying comparatively active and leave the bucket list stuff out of the bucket.

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

Build slow and get at least four or five long runs (15+ miles) in before the Equinox. Make sure you can run at least five miles AND run up Ester Dome (on race day you’ll have to do 8). Ester Dome is hard enough, but you have to be able to do a normal run and THEN do it. Running the Dome can be deceptive, because you think that because you can run up it you’re OK. No, you’re not OK unless you can do it when you’re tired and still have something left. Oh, and take a rest when your body tells you to–injury will screw up your plans way more than a week off.

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

Yes. Last year I didn’t do enough long slow runs and beat myself up racing without an adequate base. That, and I was overoptimistic on the first half pace and probably over hydrated. Debilitating cramps on Henderson were the result. I still enjoyed myself though, even shuffling like Frankenstein for about four miles.

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 plan on participating this year. I just like being out there in the beautiful Fairbanks fall, so would probably be out there in any event; I would say that a big component of it is maintaining a connection to my past, so that probably motivates me as well.


Peggy Sullivan

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

I’ve ran the full marathon four times, and the ultra twice.  I’ve never run the relay.

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?

For my first marathon, back in 2002, I did zero, I mean zero training.  I was on my way home from work and I happened to hear that it was the last night to sign up for the 40th annual Equinox Marathon.  I didn’t even know what a marathon was, but I always knew it was a big event here in the community and I thought I’m just going to do it.  And I saw a patch, and wanted a patch.  Somewhere along the line, I heard you had to do it in 7 1/2 hours to get the patch.**  My goal was to get a patch!  I put on my hiking boots, my jeans, and my backpack – probably could have survived for about a week out there.  I did it in 7 hours, 29 minutes, 50-something seconds.  I was so excited I got this patch, though I don’t recommend this at all!  I didn’t walk for almost a week afterwards.

Four years later in 2006, I’ve been riding my bicycle once a week with the LOL, Ladies of Leisure, and I figure I’m in shape, and tried to convince them to come and run the Equinox with me.  I had no takers except for Sheryl Reily.  We ended up doing it in 6 1/2 hours.  Still didn’t walk too well for a week because there was no training, but it’s kinda like childbirth – you forget how painful it was; you remember the goodness of it all.

In 2007, Bonni Brooks came up to Fairbanks and introduced Team in Training to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Susan Butcher has just passed away in 2006, and there was a team for her.  I had family members that died of leukemia and lymphoma, and money raised was also used for other cancers such as colon cancer; my mom had just been diagnosed with colon cancer.  So I told myself, I don’t care if I crawl myself across the line, I’m going to do this.  I wrote down that I would walk and maybe jog a little bit, but I ended up actually running most of it and did it in just under 5 1/2 hours.  So the training really does help.  I’ve trained with Team in Training ever since.

**Later, Peggy found out that the cutoff time to receive a patch is 10 hours.

What are your key workouts in preparation for this race?

The long runs that we do.  We do that once a week as a whole team, and that really helps a lot.  If I’m not able to do it, I try to do it on my own or I do cross-training, such as bike riding.

What’s your favorite thing about this race?

I like the challenge of it all, and I really like the excitement of it and how the whole community gets involved with it.

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

My most favorite are the views from the top, and Alder Trail.

My least favorite:  that sections along Ballaine Road. And that one section along Goldhill Road – that to me is one of the longest roads ever.

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

The best was in 2007, my first year with Team in Training and crossing the finish line with Dena Doublex and Bonni Brooks.  We ended up being on the front page (of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner).  We also did it in just under 5 1/2 hours, 5:29:54, which was amazing.  Very much an accomplishment.

(click on photo to enlarge)

Worst moment was the same marathon in 2007. At mile 8, I tore my left hamstring.  It was very painful but I was bound and determined to finish it.  At the time, one of my cousins, Michael who passed away two months later, was struggling really hard with cancer, so I did it for him. I was able to give him a Team in Training shirt and hat before he died.

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

No, I don’t consider myself a competitive runner.  In fact, I never considered myself a runner.  I love to bike ride, and I’m not a competitive bike rider either, but I ride bikes more than I run.  I just compete against myself, not against other people.  My whole goal was to just finish, and hopefully finish upright.

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

Have a training plan.  Team in Training provides us with one.  We run once a week as a team, but during the week, it gives us workouts.  If you follow that or get in good cross-training, you’re going to do okay.

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

Yes.  If you eat or drink too close to the beginning of the race, combined with the stress — you’re going to be running in and out of the woods, and thank goodness we have woods here! Just learning when to eat. Also, don’t change anything that you haven’t trained with.  Don’t bring anything new into it.  No new clothing, or foods and drinks.  Run with what you’re trained with.

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?

I’m definitely going to do the full marathon again.  I have done the ultra twice, and I had planned on doing this year, but they changed it to 40 miles.  I can do the 50K, but 14 extra miles is a lot of miles to think about, so I’ll probably only do the full marathon this year.

My motivation besides Team in Training is because it’s right here in our back yard!  Why waste it?  It’s here, be a part of it.   I may end up being on a relay team some year, but I’ll always be a part of it.


Matias Saari

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

Marathon 11 times, relay 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?

My training for the Equinox has changed in recent years. I used to train beginning in April and the Equinox was the pinnacle and culmination of the racing season. Now I run virtually year-round and due to other target trail and mountain races I don’t specifically train for the Equinox until August. Typically I only ran up Ester Dome a handful of times before the race but I spent considerable time on the out-and-back and descent of the Dome. Now that I live in Anchorage the opportunity to train on the Equinox route is of course diminished.

What are your key workouts in preparation for this race?

At least three long runs of 20-23 miles and maybe a half-dozen tempo/threshold runs of 6-10 miles. I rarely if ever do speed work any more.

What’s your favorite thing about this race?

I love everything about the Equinox: the community’s enthusiasm for it, the race’s history, the satisfaction of earning another patch, the post-race socializing, the challenge of the course and the camaraderie of all involved.

The Equinox has influenced me to such an extent that I am writing a book about its nearly 50-year history.

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

My favorite section begins by charging down the Chute then navigating the technical trail through the golden forest until reaching Henderson Road.

I don’t have a least favorite section but I find the out-and-back to be the most difficult mentally and physically.  

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

My best moment was gaining a gap on Harald Aas by attacking off the top of Ester Dome en route to my first win in 2007. 

My parents coming to watch in 2005 (my mom was a bit alarmed by the suffering she witnessed) and my brother from Michigan in 2009 were also special.

Though I cramped miserably in my first few Equinoxes, undoubtedly my worst moment was the helpless feeling of having Mike Kramer pull away on Goldhill Road for the second straight year in 2006.

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

I am ultra competitive by nature but I aim to celebrate each race without taking myself or the result too seriously. Now that I’m age 40 my goal is simply to stave off slowing down for another year. I would be thrilled to break three hours 10 straight years but even more thrilled if I am still running the Equinox in my 70s. 

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

Train your legs to handle the punishment of the downhill and pavement from Miles 17-26; that’s more important than training to climb Ester Dome. Become familiar with the entire course and do a workout at race pace or faster on each section – perhaps dividing the route into thirds – to simulate what race day might feel like. If you’re from out of town, study the course description and profile and try to mimic the terrain in training.

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

Using shoes I got at Value Village, I ran my first full Equinox on a whim in 1998 after my relay partners bailed out. I had never run more than 15 miles before and within a quarter mile of charging down the Chute my hamstrings seized, followed quickly by my calves. I shuffled and walked to the finish, couldn’t descend stairs frontwards for days – but was instantly hooked on the Equinox and distance running.

In 2008 I spent so much time putting on a hat, gloves and windbreaker atop a stormy Ester Dome that race leader Harald Aas took off never to be caught again.

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?

I am a lifetime member of the Equinox and will no doubt participate so long as I am able – regardless of where I live. Getting to spend a day each year reveling in the aura of the Equinox and its community is more than enough motivation to return each year.  


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