I'm going to try out a new format that I modeled from the Marathon and Beyond publication that is no longer in print. I've separated out the extra travel that we did into its own post so you can wade through that as you wish.
Mayor’s Midnight Marathon History/Tradition:
The Mayor’s Midnight Marathon is one of the oldest marathons in Alaska (this year was the 44th). It is one of the most popular Team in Training destination marathons.
I primarily chose it because the date was close to our 30th wedding anniversary and it made a good jumping off point for our Alaska adventure.
12 out of 15 points Cost:
The $75 registration is very reasonable relative to other races. Hotel and food costs were higher than most races I have done in the past few years. Helpful Hint: When booking your lodging, make sure that the historic hotel you are staying in has AC.
7 out of 10 points Locale:
Anchorage was a nice place to visit although it was a bit “touristy” with all of the souvenir shops. My wife found plenty of artsy stores and purchased some artwork. Transportation options were great with access to trains, roads, and flights. There was a good selection of restaurants and coffee shops. We enjoyed some of the best ice cream at a place that had opened up just a week before.
12 out of 15 points Weekend activities:
The race didn’t offer many other activities but Anchorage held a Solstice Festival that closed down a number of streets for vendors, kids activities and other food options. I doubt that many of the people in attendance at these events had any idea that a race was going on, but it gave us something to do after the run.
8 out of 10 points Expo & Registration:
The expo was a decent size but not anything special. Just a few local vendors and races. There was a helpful volunteer that helped us scope out a good spot for my wife to see me along the course and we drove there after the expo. Registration was one of the oddest I have encountered. When you pick up your bib, it is assigned to you on the spot rather than being assigned previously. I was a little concerned about how this was going to work, but it was fine. I do like having names on the bibs and this prohibits that.
6 out of 10 points Course:
The course is a nice mixture of bike trails, gravel road and just a short section of trail through the woods. We ran less than a mile on a street through a neighborhood at the very end of the race. I liked how scenic and remote the whole race felt – very much like Alaska. The first 14 miles trended uphill so we got some downhill on the way back in but there are 2 nasty hills in the last half mile. I didn’t see any wildlife during the race (just some moose poop
) but there were rumors of a bear sighting. There was a section where I felt that the mile markers were off by a good bit, but it may have been trees blocking the signal to my watch.
The race starts at a high school outside of town and the transportation was very smooth and there were plenty of porta-johns for the number of runners. They had a local radio station pumping music and keeping the runners entertained while we waited for the start. In addition to the national anthem, the radio host (an American Idol contestant) sang the Alaska Flag song which was a lovely addition.
I never felt comfortable during the race. I don’t know if it was all of the travel that tired me out, but the whole race was a struggle. My pace was off at 6 miles and I knew it was just a day to cross off the state. I walked most of the bigger hills and tried to enjoy the day as much as I could. My back tightened up around halfway and that was a concern for the rest of the race. I chatted with a few people along the way but never latched onto anyone for any stretch of time.
Official finish time: 4:27:59. State #37 Marathon or more #60.
16 out of 20 points Race Amenities:
We received our race shirts once we finished the race. The marathoners received a nice long sleeved tech shirt. It’s a nice shirt, but the design looks like they have been using it for about 40 years and could use an update. The race medal was a nice size and design, and a bit plain by modern standards.(I by-passed the regular volunteers and received my medal from Miss Alaska
) I thought that there were several things about the race that could use some updating – the printed information looked like it hadn’t been updated in quite some time. The biggest ding I will give is for their post-race beer tent. I waited in a decent line and got to the front and chose an IPA from the 3 or 4 options and was asked if I had already paid my $5. As I had already picked it up and almost started drinking, my wife generously paid. They did have a number of activities post-race but I was ready to go after the bad beer experience.
5 out of 10 points Volunteers/Spectators:
Since the race course is not easily accessible, there were very few spectators. We ran through an Army base around mile 5 and went right by the golf course / driving range. We did receive a smattering of polite golf claps in there.
Volunteers were very nice, but a few aid stations early on were understaffed. I will also mention that the Gatorade served was the lightest mix I’ve ever encountered. It was basically light blue colored water. There was no Gu offered along the course although they did have fruit, pretzels and gummy bears and many of the aid stations.
7 out of 10 pointsBonus - Beer Scene:
Anchorage had a lot of breweries and we were able to visit quite a few in the limited time we had. A couple were a few miles out of town so a car or cab would be needed to get there. The best beers we had were at Anchorage Brewing which features many saison styles and uses Brett yeast in many of their beers.Score:
73 out of 100