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In this episode we bring you part 2 of our 10,000 mile camping trip to Alaska which we are calling, “Angie and Trev’s Most Excellent Summer Adventure”. Plus, Angie the Juneau Marathon in beautiful Juneau, Alaska.
When we ended part 1 we were just about to board a ferry in Skagway, Alaska, having pulled our camper all the way from our home in Pennsylvania through some of the most rugged and beautiful land we’ve ever seen.
Now we begin in Juneau, the the capitol city of Alaska, accessible only by boat or plane, and a popular destination for cruise ships.
Juneau Marathon Race Recap
The Juneau Marathon and half marathon are put on by the Southeast Road Runners. Up until last year the race was known as the Frank Maier (named after a local runner who died in a fishing accident) Marathon & Douglas Island Half Marathon. I might have rated it a bit differently and I’ll get into my assessment soon. The race was very reasonable in cost, just $65 when I registered. They sent out good race updates via email and the website has the relevant details pertaining to the race.
The nigh before the race we had a nice little MTA meet up on Friday evening with Deb from Kenai and Abel who is originally from Juneau.
The Juneau Marathon was held on Saturday, July 26, 2018. The Start/Finish area was located at Savikko Park (aka Sandy Beach) in the town of Douglas which is just across the channel from Juneau, approximately 3.5 miles from downtown Juneau.
We stayed at a campground a few miles away from the race start. Fortunately traffic was minimal and it was already light so it was easy to get to the Savikko Beach area.
There were a few runners milling around and the race volunteers were set up to mark our bibs. They offered early start options for slower runners (or those not caring about age group awards) and there were at least a dozen marathoners who took advantage of the early start. They didn’t have any port a pots set up but there was a bathroom area in the park. However the stalls didn’t have doors which was a bit weird.
The weather on race morning was overcast and in the low 50’s which made it perfect for running. We actually didn’t get any rain the whole time we were in Alaska which was quite unusual for the area.
The start line was marked by START/FINISH painted on the road. There were no timing mats or timing devices and very little fanfare as they started the race. The course is USATF-certified and a Boston Qualifier out and back on the two-lane Douglas Highway.
The road wasn’t closed to traffic and we had to stay on the left of the white line. There wasn’t much traffic earlier in the morning but traffic did pick up later on. There were a fair amount of hills on the course which made it moderately challenging. Fortunately Juneau is nearly at sea level so elevation wasn’t a concern.
We ran out 13.1 miles to a volunteer posted in the road and then turned around and came back which made it nearly impossible to get lost. Until around mile 10 the course was tree lined which provided some shade and there were some glimpses of the water. For the next three miles there was a beautiful view of the mountains and water. The half marathoners had the same course except they ran out 6.55 miles and returned to the finish area. Since they had a later start time I didn’t come across any half marathoners on the course.
There were three aid stations along the course manned with volunteers and three aid stations that were serve yourself. All the aid stations had water and sports drink. One had candy and fruit which was a welcome sight. The volunteers at the aid stations were very friendly and encouraging which was helpful because there were no spectators to speak of out on the course. I fueled with UCAN snack bars washed down with water and that worked great. Use the code MTA ALASKA for 15% off.
It would have been helpful if all the aid stations were manned by volunteers because it takes time to stop and fill your own cup. Another challenging thing was that there weren’t any port a pots out on the course. I ended up using a park one that didn’t have any toilet paper and another lady just went in the woods. This was definitely a no-frills marathon. Maybe you get what you pay for.
Like I mentioned earlier there weren’t any timing mats, simply START/FINISH painted on the road and a group of people cheering for finishing runners. Volunteers took down bib numbers and final times at the finish. They also gave out a nice medal. The male winner was Shawn Miller with a time of 2:43:20. The female winner was Alta Anzalone with a time of 3:52:43. There were around 200 runners total with 67 running the marathon.
My Experience:I enjoy smaller low key races and this one had very easy logistics. The weather was perfect and the course was scenic much of the way so that was very enjoyable. I decided to take it easy and take lots of pictures since my body wasn’t feeling in top form. I’d been dealing with some heel pain for the previous two weeks and started having some neck pain the day before (this seems to be a new pre-race tradition). Another uncomfortable aspect of the race was that I forgot to put anti-chaffing ointment under my arms which resulted in some nasty chaffing on one side. I knew at mile 6 that I’d made a big mistake in not doing that.
While running I met Marla from TX (her husband finished as the 3rd male and I recognized them from being on the ferry with us from Skagway), Jonathan from OH, and Wesley a local runner doing his first marathon. I also saw prolific marathoner Larry Macon out on the course. I ran several miles with Carolyn from Indiana who was doing her 47th state. There was one lady dressed like Wonder Woman doing her 50th state and she came from the Carnival cruise ship which seemed like a good way to get there. Among the participants there seemed to be a good mix of locals and runners who had traveled to the race.
My finish time was 5:19:10, mostly because my heel was hurting from mile 20 on and I ended up walking/limping the final six miles. The Juneau Marathon was my 54th Marathon and 43rd State.
After the race I met Steve Boone who started the 50 State Club with his wife Paula. He’s done 750+ marathons which is just astounding. You can hear a sound bite with Steve on this episode.
For the post-race food they were serving carbonated water, salmon burgers, spinach salad, chips, and fruit snacks. However they were running out of some of the food by the time I got there so I felt a bit bad for those finishing later. After the race I put on my compression pants and recovery sandals and took it easy the rest of the day.
The Return Trip Back Home
We were sad to leave Alaska but needed to get back home in time for the kid’s school started. Trevor (who did 100% of the driving) looked at the journey back home as a marathon.
We traveled back through part of the Yukon Territory until we came to the Alaska Highway, which is a staggering 1,387 miles long. The highway was built in 1942 during the war in order for the US to protect Alaska from the threat of a Japanese attack. Construction began in March and was completed in October of the same year! However, the road was not completed paved until 1980.
On our return trip through Canada we stayed at . . .
- Carcross, Yukon (also called Caribou Crossing)
- Watson Lake, Yukon (home of the sign forest)
- Frog Creek, British Columbia
- Fort St. John, British Columbia
- Hinton, Alberta
- Calgary, Alberta
Watson Lake Sign Post Forest
Watson Lake was a fun stop before leaving the Yukon. They have a nice visitor center and the unmistakable Sign Post Forest where over 90,000 people have left a sign. We were sure to leave ours!
Fort Nelson, British Columbia
In Fort Nelson we met for lunch with MTA fan Mike Irwin who is a Zamboni driver and runs to raise awareness for lung health.
Jasper National Park
We have always wanted to visit the Canadian Rockies and Jasper National Park did not disappoint! We could have spent the whole summer here exploring its many wonders.
In Calgary we met up with long-time MTA fan Jenny de Champlain who is a board member at the Calgary Marathon.
Glacier Park, Montana
We spent a brief day in our favorite U.S. National Park. Days after we left a lightening strike cause a fire in west Glacier burning over 10,000 acres. 🙁
Breaking Down in North Dakota
Our 15 year old suburban started making funny noises (bad transfer case) while in MT and the issue finally came to a head in Jamestown, North Dakota. Thankfully there was a shop that was able to fit us in, access a used transfer case, and have us on the road a few hours later. I’m glad we didn’t break down on the Alaska Highway without cell service!
We were just back in Pennsylvania 4 hours from home when we noticed a flat on the camper. Trev and the boys were able to put the spare tire on and we got back home late that evening. Wow, what a journey!
Also Mentioned in This Episode
The MTA Virtual Half Marathon -The 2018 MTA Virtual Half Marathon! The medal design this year is ridiculously cool and registration is officially open!!! Early bird pricing is now available. Click here to learn more: https://www.marathontrainingacademy.com/half
CEP Compression Socks and Tights. Perfect for the long run, speed work, and recovery. Use the code MTA to save 20%.
Generation Ucan -Use the code MTAALASKA for 15% off.
Google Play -For a limited time, get $10 off your first audio book by visiting g.co/play/mta.
The Jungfrau Marathon in Switzerland -Trevor’s next race