The 52nd annual Equinox Marathon gets underway in Fairbanks early Saturday morning. KUAC’s Emily Schwing has more.
Race Co-Director John Estle says he expects this year’s race to be business as usual. “The Equinox Marathon is one of the oldest continuously run marathons in the country, so yes, it is really cool!" he says. "There’s lots of marathons that have come and gone and lots of marathons that have sprouted up in the time since the Equinox has started and I think people in Fairbanks are proud of the event. Its’ a big event for the community and sort of the official end of the running season.”
A few minor changes to the start and finish bring the course back to its original route in those spots. A new subdivision between mile four and five on the course adds another road crossing to the route.
Estle says heavy rains all summer long haven’t caused any major problems for a race course that follows mostly trails. “I haven’t heard any reports of that from people running on the trail," Estle says. "I’ve been on top of Ester Dome a little, doesn’t look like there’s a big problem there. I’m sure there are little things here or there, but I haven’t heard anyone saying ‘Boy there’s a real erosion problem here,’ or ‘you should see the gullies there,’ so absent those reports, I think the trail is in decent shape.”
Alongside the marathon is the 64 kilometer, or nearly 40 mile, Ultramarathon.
“It’s a real organization challenge," admits Estle, "because we’ve got things dialed in pretty well for the marathon, but for the ultramarathon it’s just longer, and more stuff to get out there and more things to worry about so we’ve been really working to make sure we take as good of care of the ultramarathon people as the marathon people.”
The race organization will also use a new chip timing system. Estle says they tested the system, last year to find out if would work for the race.
“We will have everybody, individual marathoners and ultramarathons as well as relay runners alike go over the chip readers just before the first exchange and just before the second relay exchange," he says, "and so we hope to have live results at eight miles and 17 miles that people can look at on the internet during the race and we hope to do finish results in real time at the finish.”
Registration numbers are down slightly from last year with just under 400 runners signed up to run the marathon. There are more than 100 relay teams planning to divvy the 26.2 miles distance up among three runners. Just under 40 athletes hope to tackle the ultramarathon. The races start at 8 am Saturday morning.