Half #199 is in the books!! Anchorage Runfest – Skinny Raven Half Marathon – August 22, 2021!
Alaska never disappoints! In August the weather is perfect, the scenery is beautiful, the flowers bloom in brilliant colors and the wildlife is spectacular!! Throw in some awesome restaurants and breweries, and I am not sure it could get much better. But this wasn’t a vacation… it was a race-cation!
This is my second time to do the Anchorage Runfest Skinny Raven Half. It is part of my second round of 50 States and a chance to celebrate milestones with some of our good friends.
Packet pick up was held at the Marriott Downtown in a small room were you got your bib and shirt. There was not an Expo but it was connected to a restaurant. We grabbed a late breakfast there with friends.
The last time we were there in 2018, the race started and finished in Delaney Park, a nice long stretch of green between 9th and 10th Avenue.
This year the start was at 6th Ave and F Street near Town Square Park. The park was control central with the actual start and finish stretch along 6th Ave.
Before the start, an older lady from one of the tribal communities representing the indigenous people gave a traditional introduction and blessing which was followed by the national anthem. It was quite moving.
At the horn, we were off! After a block west we went a few blocks north where we picked up the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. We were soon running along side the inlet which had a great view of the mountains. You could even see Denali in the far distance if you looked hard enough, though it was fairly cloudy.
The Coastal Trail system runs through various parks in the city, acting as a connector of sorts. It is a very scenic paved running/bike path. It goes past the inlet and some lakes, through parks and woods. All the way through there were some really pretty flowers and interesting mushrooms!
After the initial downhill in the first mile and a half, most of the course was flat until about mile 5 to 6 1/2 where there was a steady incline. At 6 1/2 miles there was a turnaround and you started to head back to the finish along the same route. What goes up must come down so there was a nice downhill on the return.
At 1 1/2 miles the marathon course peeled off on a separate route then joined back in for their last 13miles.
We returned the way we came until we were back on the streets of Anchorage. Feeling that this was going to be a smooth ending to a fun race, we were greeted with one last hill to the finish. Putting the hill at the end of a race, as one runner said, was “just plain rude!” LOL
There was a bit of excitement for some of the runners as a bear cub decided to cross the path. Not only did it cross, it stopped for a few minutes which brought the race to a halt for some. Everyone was looking and wondering “where was Mama bear?” Finally the cub wandered off and the runners continued.
There was great entertainment on the course, including a bagpipe band, an accordion band, tribal drummers and several local musicians and singers.
Aid stations were every 1 1/2 to two miles apart. Each had water and Gatorade with a couple supplying orange slices. Since it was mostly path running, they did not need a lot of police support. However, they were definitely in the downtown area and kept the runners safe. They had volunteers at key turns on the course so no one would make a wrong turn.
As we came to the finish line, we were greeted with cheers from spectators and volunteers passing out medals, water and fruit. Outside of the finish corral, there was a food truck with free grilled cheese sandwiches and another truck serving free coffee and hot chocolate.
Humpy’s, a local restaurant on the finish line road, set up an outdoor beer garden with a free beer for runners! They had a good variety of beer from Alaska Brewing Company. They also had available hot dogs, reindeer sausage, and some other food for purchase. You could even purchase a mixed drink!
It was great running with Jennifer Sloan Jennifer Sloan Ziegler and Sarah Butler. Some other 50 Staters hung around the finish to cheer and welcome us in! That is why it is called a running family and not just a group of running friends!
In closing, if you have never been to Alaska for a race, this is the one to do in my opinion! Just be sure to make it a real race-cation and allow time to take it all in!
Next up, half marathon #200 at Revel Big Cottonwood in Salt Lake City!
Photo and Post Credit Jennifer Clark –HF16743