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 marathon many times, the first in 1987, after my first full year in Fairbanks. I then learned how to recover from a training bonk with a can of pork & beans.
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 start training when I smell the musk of highbush cranberries. I don’t do much of the course or Ester before the race. That way, the course is a friend I haven’t seen for a year.
What are your key workouts in preparation for this race?
It’s nice to get the Gold Discovery Run in, but it doesn’t always happen.
What’s your favorite thing about this race?
The leaves, the fall smells, the people cheering you on, the spiritual vibe of the passage from light to dark seasons. Seeing people like Bob Baker, Andy Sterns, Dave Covey, Jim Brader, Andy Holland, Ted Fathauer, Tina Devine, Jane LeBlond, Kristen Bartecchi, Johnny Estle, Stan Justice at the train crossing and so many others who are always there.
What’s your favorite part of the course? Your least favorite part?
Favorite—the mining trail from the chute to Henderson. Running on a gold carpet, and so quiet.
Least—the turn on to Gold Hill and that toothy pavement.
Describe the best moment you’ve experienced during this race. Describe the worst.
Finishing is always the bomb. And I’ve had tears in my eyes just going up the UAF ski hill, knowing I’m doing it again. That cannon makes me cry.
The worst year was ’99 when a since-healed meniscus injury kept me out of the race.
Do you consider yourself a competitive runner? What are your running goals/fitness goals?
I felt more and more competitive in the Equinox each year until 2000. That year, I was knocking off personal bests in every race in a fun competition with Kristen. But that changed suddenly in August, when my dad died. I went to New York for a few months and missed the race. I lost a bit of my competitive snap after that, and it hasn’t returned in running. But I’ve shifted to something even more fun than competing for seventh in my age group. The last few years I’ve done the race with my daughter Anna. She was 3 in 2009 when we first charioted, piggybacked and walked the course with our dog Poops. I did it because I wanted to, but she enjoyed it too, so much that we finished last year when she was 4. Shattered the nine-hour mark both years. They still gave us a patch.
What’s the best advice or training tips you can share with others who are new to this race?
If you want to kick butt, learn to run fast on downhills, and run more uphills than those you hope to beat. If you are just out for a good day, consider walking with a bit of jogging mixed in. That’s what most of the participants did in the late ‘60s, and I can tell you it’s less suffering (and for me, more fun).
Have you made any big training errors, or race day flubs that adversely affected your enjoyment or time in this race?
Skimpy nylon shorts when it snowed my first year. The pain was temporary.
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?
Me, Anna, and Poops (and maybe Kristen) will be there at the tail of the ski hill procession again. The Equinox is part of my Alaska life I can’t miss. It’s Steve Bainbridge’s fault for selling me a lifetime bib.
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