Bruce Gard

 

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

This is my favorite race for so many reasons. The smells of high bush, the camaraderie and meeting/reconnecting with friends. The epic nature of the whole up-the-dome thing. I’ve done the full too many times to count~ it’s just a ritual that needs to be done or the year isn’t complete. I once did the relay and we were on course to break Stan’s record! Pretty exciting- and amazing that three pretty good runners (I was younger then!) couldn’t beat Stan the Legend of the Dome. Caveat- I saw Stan run the race once and he was the closest thing I’ve witnessed to Mr. Natural’s (remember him all you ol’ hippies?) stride~ and the guy went up the dome as fast as he went down (or so it seemed!). He really rocked it- as well as Murphy, but Murph bounced along with a totally different look. Both legends! 

When do you start training for this race? 

I usually don’t really specifically train for it. I coach and travel in the summer, and bike a lot, so running takes a back seat. Maybe the month before I’ll get some long miles in. Not fast enough to be serious, and the one year I was training “seriously” for it, my dog took out my ACL in late August, so that taught me to keep it fun!

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

I love running the first two legs- trails are us:) Great workouts and Katie, the wonder dog loves the trails, too. 

Katie

How often do you incorporate the Dome into your training?

Not much, but I do love going vertical, so at least a few times a summer. 

What are your key workouts in preparation for this race?

Eating. Fishing. Moose hunting (tons of hiking really- not much finding)/ Riding my mountain bike on trails. I keep it low key- not fast enough to get too wigged out about times. It’s more about the event than results for me.

What’s your favorite thing about this race?

The people, the fall weather, and the course are what keep me coming back. And seeing Stan at the Sheep Creek crossing near the end. He’s always so encouraging and, when I see him, I know I’m almost done. Sweet!

What’s your favorite part of the course? 

The finish line and the start line. And I do love the first 20 miles- the rolling trails and climbing. Those last six often do me in.

Your least favorite part?

Henderson and the power line. My legs are shot and the pavement hurts, and the unevenness of the power line trail knacker my ankles. 

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

Three times stand out. I made a pact with myself that I would come back from ACL surgery and run it the next year- I did and ran around 3:38, so that was cool. Another was running with a dude that was doing the ultra for miles. He was in his mid 20′s and had barely escaped meth and that whole life alive, and this was what saved him- running. His brother and dad were at every place you could see the race supporting him- pretty emotional for all involved. It was his first ultra- think he was second:) The third was the year George Bloom died and I watched Bobby Fyten veer off course and send some loving to George on the top of the dome where his ashes were spread. Pretty emotional. 

Describe the worst.

Bonking so badly (about every third year) and having Bad Bob pass me every time in that last few miles! He’s a great guy and friend, and we like to joke about it. 

Do you consider yourself a competitive runner? 

Ha! NO!!! I’m an awful runner- work my butt off to make up for a huge lack of any kind of natural skill! 

What are your running goals?

To see good friends, meet new people, and try not to get injured.

Fitness goals?

Just trying to keep that old slow fat and out of shape guy from catching me (that guy is the me if I stop working out:)

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

Have fun! Talk to people, don’t go out hard or you WILL pay, and look at the views at the top of the dome- you earned it. Oh, and stash warm clothes along the trail- I’ve gotten really cold, and it can really zap your energy stores and make the race no fun.

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

All the time, and too many to mention. 

Any plans on participating in the Equinox this year?

Yes~ I hope to run with two great people (Dee and Bob)and enjoy a good but not crazy pace. And no bonk pleeease.

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

Because it’s one of the most grueling marathons in the country…

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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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Tim Middleton

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 marathon about nine times, starting in 1997, and I did the relay (leg 3) in 2002. I worked on the trail with Nat Goodhue in 1963. This year’s Equinox was my first marathon since 2000.  My best marathon time is about 3:41.

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 don’t run the course because I live in Anchorage now.  We have a lot of hills in Anchorage.  My age and injuries have set me back the last six to seven years, but I’m finally healthy, and I run three days a week.  All these runs are hard; no junk miles.  I would do some interval work, and hard mid-distance over hills in Kincaid Park, and then a long run up in the mountains.  I try to avoid asphalt.  And I bike two days a week for two 1/2 to three hours.   I train on skis in the wintertime.

Last year, both Nat Goodhue and I turned 70.  I talked him into coming up here.  For three years, I nagged him to come up here.  He had to perform emergency surgery on my stomach on August 13 of last year so I couldn’t come. No matter what I was going to do it this year.

What are your key workouts in preparation for this race?

Workouts on the track or repeats of half-miles on the bike trail.  The second workout is a six or seven mile hard run, maybe even longer.  And a 14 to 16 mile trail run up in the mountains.

What’s your favorite thing about this race?

Oh, don’t get me started.  I get emotional about this… I love the whole thing.  It’s hard!  But it’s fun.  

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

My favorite part is getting off the chute and running down those hills on the dirt road.  I love running downhill; that’s where I gain my time over other people.  I also love the first leg.  If there’s a least favorite, it’s probably the out and back.  

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

I’ve had faster times; this was the slowest one I’ve ever ran, but today when I crossed the finish line was my best moment.  

Worst moment?  When it’s 24 degrees and snowing up on the hill! But those types of things you have to experience.  

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

My friends would all say that I’m really competitive.  If somebody’s in front of me, they’re there for me to catch, even at my age!  I want to keep staying fit.

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

Train on hills – uphill and downhill.

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

I can’t think of any. I tend to come prepared.  I can go the distance.  I don’t tackle these things lightly.

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 want to participate since it’s the 50th.  I’d like to get Nat Goodhue back and do a relay with him.  

The community aspect of it, and the camaraderie is just amazing.  The scenery and the variation of the course – you’ve got trees, stumps, roots, rocks, gravel, mud, asphalt… The genius of this thing was unrecognized.  

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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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Julia and John Mayer


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

Julia: I’ve run the relay three times (the last leg), and I ran the whole thing last year.  

John:  This will be my 11th Equinox in a row.  

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?

Julia: I ran up the Dome once this year, and I run on the trails by our house.

John:  We run hills.  If you don’t do hills, then you’re just not going to do well in the Equinox.  Unfortunately, we do soccer four times a week in the summer, so we can’t make it to a lot of the Thursday night Equinox training runs.  I’m the soccer coach so I have to show up.  Before the soccer years, I used to run pretty regularly with the running group, but now I try to run the Dome a couple times in the summer. Like Julia was saying, we run a bunch of trails around our house, and it’s hilly. 

What are your key workouts in preparation for this race?

Julia:  Trails, mainly.

John:  I think her big workouts are the soccer games and the practices.  I wore my GPS one time for practice and it came out to 4 1/2 miles of running, and that’s four times a week.  My key workouts are to get the distance in.  This year, we managed to do the half marathon and the Gold Discovery run together.

What’s your favorite thing about this race?

Julia: Saying I ran a marathon.

John: Being out there.  It’s such a huge running community here in Fairbanks and being out there with people I’ve seen for years, and being able to run with Julia the last few years.  It’s a rite of fall for Fairbanks. It’s wonderful.

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

Julia:  The last part because it’s mainly down hill.  The middle part, running up the Dome and the out and back is my least favorite part.

John: My favorite is the bottom of the chute to the road.  The least favorite part is coming out to the road at mile 23.  You have those last few miles that seem to stretch out forever.  

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

Julia: Hitting the wall at mile 18 is my worst, but crossing the finish line is my best.

John:  We were both sick last year.  It was pretty awful.  She had to stop and actually vomit at mile 22 or so!  My best experience was my first Equinox in 2001 which was my very first marathon, and I never ran any part of the Equinox before.  I was a total fool and didn’t know what I was doing!   The next one I ran was in ’07.  Julia was nine then and ran with two of her friends in the relay and that was a wonderful experience, and a perfect day.  It’s humbling to see what an awesome runner she is.  

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

Julia:  I’m not competitive.  The farther I run, the better.  My goals are to run a lot.

John:  Julia’s competitive.  She’s won her age group for forever!  I am not a competitive runner.  I rapidly realized that I’m not going to win any age group awards in this town because there are so many superb runners, but I just love running.   I want to be Corky - I want to run until I can’t run anymore, and I want to run with my grandkids like he does.  

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

Julia:  Just enjoy it.

John:  That’s kind of our philosophy when we run together.  

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

Julia:  No, I was just sick during it.

John:  It takes awhile to learn how to eat properly – not overeat the night before, and have a little nutrition and hydrate along the way.  It took me quite a few marathons to figure that out.

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?

Julia:  Yeah, and I’m doing the Portland Marathon.  It’s fun.  I’ll probably do it for years to come.

John:  I hope to keep running until I can’t move anymore.  We’re doing the full marathon.  Maybe some day I’ll be crazy and do the ultra!

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

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Jim Decur

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

I started running the Equinox in 1994, and I’ve run the marathon up until two years ago when the ultra started.  Although I missed the marathon in 2008 due to a bike accident.  I live down in Denali Park and while commuting to work on my bike, a tour bus turned out in front of me.  I didn’t have a enough time to stop and I ran into the bus. Fortunately, I don’t remember a thing about the accident, but I was in the hospital for two weeks and in a neck brace for six months.  The doctors wouldn’t let me run, although I really wanted to.  I did walk the first eight miles of the Equinox that year.  

I’ve done the ultra the last two years, and I’m hoping to finish the ultra tomorrow.

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 feel like I’m training year round.  I don’t really do anything specific to train for the Equinox, I just continue to run.  I just enjoy running, and I live in such a beautiful area. We have so many great trails down in Denali.  There have been a few times where I’ve come up to do Steve’s training runs, but generally, I don’t do any Equinox training on the trails or on the Dome.

What are your key workouts in preparation for this race?

Just running.  I enjoy running, and I do a lot of long runs.  I’ve done 26 to 30 mile runs several times this summer. 

What’s your favorite thing about this race?

When it’s over!  The whole atmosphere, and getting to see so many old friends who I generally only get to see at the Equinox.  

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

My favorite part of the course is the trail from the start of the race to the bottom of Ester Dome.  Least favorite part is the pavement on Gold Hill Road.

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

I don’t have any bad moments at all.  My best moment would be the year I managed to finish in the top 10.  Every Equinox is special.

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

I don’t consider myself to be a competitive runner.  I just go out and run how I feel, and I’ve been fortunate enough to stay in pretty good shape, and I’ve felt well enough where it’s produced some pretty good results.  I want to keep on running.  I’ve really gotten into running ultras, and I hope to be able to keep progressing and going farther.

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

Do your training runs and make sure you do your long runs.  I think it helps to do hill workouts, even if you’re not running up Ester Dome.  Try to duplicate as much as the Equinox trail as you can no matter where you live.

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

I don’t think so.  Everything has always seemed to work out fairly well.  There’s always the dilemma as to what to wear the morning of the race.  Sometimes, I tend to overdress or under dress, but I make do.

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 am.  I’m going to do the ultra again tomorrow.  I’ve never run 40 miles, so we’ll see how it goes, but I think I can just keep putting one foot in front of the other, and persevere to the end.

The challenge to see if I can keep doing it.  I’ve never really felt it was that hard.  I just did a 50K run down in northern Michigan that I thought was much tougher than the Equinox.

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

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John Lyle

The Equinox Bug hit me hard in 1985 when I moved from a small rural Yukon River village to the big city of Fairbanks. It was at running races that I met Corky Hebard, Stan Justice, Bob Murphy and several others who encouraged and inspired me to give the marathon a try. In the past 25 years I’ve participated about a dozen times and I must admit I enjoyed the ultra the most. For me it’s more a spiritual pilgrimage than a race…the awesome setting and transitional time of year; the camaraderie of runners regardless of ability or performance; several hundred participants starting in one chaotic bunch, panting and plodding up that steep sledding hill; catching your breath and finding a comfortable pace as you funnel into narrow forested trails. The Equinox has often been billed as one of the toughest marathons in North America. That may well be, yet regardless of the physical toughness of it, I think it’s got to be one of the most moving, inspirational marathons anywhere.

For me the Equinox is also one of the most humbling races I’ve run. I’ve made the mistake of going out too fast, only to have a sobering reckoning with reality at the base of Ester Dome. The steep downhills have also been tough on my ankles and knees. I love the uphill but the downhill really tears me up, so I typically take baby steps down. The power line along Gold Hill and on to the finish has always been a powerful time for me emotionally, especially with the ultra. I often move into an altered state, back and forth between bliss and pain. Most of all while running the Equinox, I’m filled with powerful memories of times with friends and family which always seems to pull me along through the tough parts like a bungee cord.

I suppose I’ve been training for the Equinox since I was four years old, though I didn’t realize it at the time. My mother had stories about me running barefoot as a young child in SE Texas in +100 degree heat for extended periods of time. She worried and took me to a child psychiatrist for an examination, fearful I was terribly deranged. As the story goes, the doctor returned me to my mother and said, “The boy likes to run. Let him run”. Bless his heart. The doctor was spot on. As a kid in school, I was easily distracted and couldn’t keep still. I loved sports but being quite small I was trampled. It soon became more clear that the thing I could do well, and really love was to run.  It seemed the meditative, rhythmic pace and breathing calmed and comforted me. Running made me feel good about myself and the world. I found that running as part of a team made it all the more rewarding. And running the Equinox along with such a good-natured, extended family of runners–aided and cheered on by an even larger extended family of supporters–is about as good as it gets.

In the mid 80’s I was a very competitive runner but starting in 1987 I’ve been dealing with one major injury after another, unfortunately missing more Equinox Marathons than I’ve run. In the last 10 years I’ve felt blessed to be able to just enter the race, regardless of whether or not I’m able to finish it. Given the state of my knees, it’s not a sure thing if I’ll run another Equinox. But I’ve always realized, even as a little kid running barefoot in Texas, that running was a blissful, sacred thing and not to be taken for granted. This year I had another knee surgery the day before the Equinox. When I watched the seemingly endless stream of runners from the window by the bed I was so happy for them all, doing this incredible thing together on such a beautiful day.

In many places people run on  busy roads but we’re really spoiled here in Fairbanks with such an incredible variety of trail systems on which to run, ski, bike, walk or snowshoe. Fairbanks also has a huge number of runners (and bikers, skiers, etc) for a small city its size. Most people are able to train on the Equinox course which is great. We learn our challenging places, our dark places, where we shine and where we hurt bad. And we make peace with the hills, knowing we play by their rules.

I’ve run several marathons and ultras in Hawai’i and unfortunately most are not run on terrain anywhere as diverse or pristine as the Equinox. Two exceptions are the Hilo-Volcano Ultra, starting at sea level and climbing to 4,200’ elevation, and the Volcano Wilderness Marathon which, like the Equinox, is largely off-road and quite diverse in terrain. But honestly, there’s something very special about the Equinox. Whether one’s an elite marathoner or a casual jogger/hiker, it’s an event which brings out the best in people regardless of how fast or far they go.

My advice to runners is pretty simple. As my old mentor Richard Frazier use to say: “Start off slow, then ease way back”. It’s easy to start too fast, then realize the tank’s half empty before the big climb begins. There’s more than enough time to make up at the end. Unfortunately, I’m very familiar with over training and running on legs that haven’t fully recovered, which makes it a bit of a slog. I guess I’d say that for me training begins the day after Equinox and continues to the start of the next race. Lots of hill work, cross training and hiking have helped me. And yoga has been a wonderful thing to incorporate… my wife, Susanne points out that I could always do much more of that.

As time passes I’m all the more in awe of the record times that individuals have set in this race. Susan Faulkner’s 3:18 and Stan Justice’s 2:41 are both phenomenal. Hot shot relay teams are hard pressed to beat these record times. And all the runners right on their heels shows what a historically talented community of runners we have right here in Fairbanks. It’s true in Fairbanks and it’s true almost anywhere you go: if you want to connect with engaged, happy, talented people, show up at a running event. The rest will be history.


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