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.
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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