Friday, June 28, 2013

Race report: Mayor's Half Marathon (Anchorage, AK)

Everybody loves a parade but Anchorage loves a half marathon.

These are people who have changed my life
 This 40th Annual Mayor's Marathon half-marathon is responsible for convincing my husband that we should retire to Alaska.  We bought property based on this race and the incredible beauty of the day.  For serious!

Future home?
I ran more slowly than I planned and it didn't get to me as it normally would.  I was really happy to be running with UJ, his CSM, and Dan.  UJ has always pushed me to do my best athletically but we have never been able to compete together before.

UJ's daughter ran the kid's 1.6 mile race in under a 7-min mile pace, putting us all to shame.

The half marathon is a scenic course starting (and returning) to the Delaney Park Strip between 9th and 10th Avenues.  The course sets out along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail with a uber-narrow half-mile trail run in the middle (through Kincaid Park) and a killer hill at the end back to the Park Strip where the race began.  You are not running in the mountains but there are some naughty hills along the way.  Don't let sight of the airport fool you into thinking flat!

I ran this race in 2005, much more quickly, when it was a slightly different course.  I think I placed so well then because it was a chilly rainy day and there was a much smaller field.  This past Saturday was quite different, with sun, many more runners, and great views of the Chugach Mountains to the east and the Knik Arm of the Cook Inlet to the west.  

A kid's 1.6 mile race and a 4-mile race also start with the half-marathon.  The full marathon and marathon relay start an hour earlier out east but end at the Park Strip with the half.  The race is always held on the Saturday nearest the summer solstice.  I didn't see Mayor Sullivan there but I assume with one's title on a race he might have been there, at least ceremonially.

Dan loved that this race begins later than most, at 0900.  No groggy morning rush!  There were ample potties at the start/finish and great end of race snacks (Great Harvest Bread Co cookies, drinks, bananas, watermelon, etc).  Nice technical finisher's t-shirt and medal, each distance a different color. Finish-line beer garden for those of age. The aid stations are well-spaced and overrunning with drinks and snacks and music, lots of Psy on this particular day...I guess if you can see Russia you can almost see South Korea too?  Why not.

We didn't look very hard for parking in the morning and we found plenty of spots close by, had we searched a little more tenaciously we could have parked right along the Park Strip itself.  The only downfall of the race was that the start was tight...sardines.  We waited a good few minutes for the crowd to thin and it didn't so if you need a PR in Anchorage, you had better line your tush up in the very front on race day.  The trail is narrow and we were stuck in a thick crowd for about 2 miles. One day, I'd love to meet my goal and break 1:45 on this course, on my turf, in my town.

Packet pick up was the day before the race.  No race day registration or pickup available.  They let Dan and I pick up UJ's number, a convenience I wish more races allowed.  We didn't have a lot of time to explore the expo but the official race ambassador greeted us there.  He has a prosthetic leg and there are more than a few wounded warriors and others with prosthetic appliances running the race.  It's Alaska, so there's not much judging going on.  Run with legs or without.  Or with your dog.  Or a stroller.  Or walk.  There were for sure all skills, ages and abilities present.

The four of us running very much appreciated the 50% military discount. We will be back to run this again.  Annually, if I had to guess.