Willow Winter Solstice Marathon Races

Willow Winter Solstice Marathon,
Half-Marathon and 5K
December 16th, 2017


On this page, you'll find:
Overview of race information
Course description
Aid Stations
Race Rules
Trail updates
Registration here - Ultra Signup

Race Overview:
Route:  An out-and-back course
taking you from the Willow Community Center, winding through Willow Area lakes and (for the marathon) out to Eagle Quest Lodge. The course is entirely on winter trails.
Distance: 26.2+(approx. 28) mile Marathon, 13.1 mile half-marathon or 5K (see below for more detailed description of each race course)
Start time: 9AM for all races  
Start/Finish location: Willow Community Center, Parks Hwy, mile 70.    The community center is reserved for this event. Friends and family will be able to hang out and await your return.
Cost: Marathon $65, Half marathon $45,  5K $30.  
Registration/On-line sign-up:  Here (opening October 18th, 2017).  Online registration will close Thursday December 14th, 2017 at 11:59pm. There will be race day signup available (cash and checks only). There will be no increase in price on race day, but you may not receive a participation prize. 
Participation prizes will be guaranteed to all runners signing by December 2nd. Anyone signing up after December 2nd will receive one on a first come-first serve basis at bib pick-up. We can not guarantee this after Dec. 2nd. We will try our best to have one for everyone but cannot guarantee it after the order date!  There will be finisher medals for all three races.

Course description:
All groups will start at 9AM together, at Willow Community Center. Taking the trail across Willow Lake, you cross over to Elmsweiler Swamp, heading south to Long Lake. The 5Kers will turn around here. Marathoners and half- marathoners will continue all the way down Long lake and cross over to Crystal Lake. From there, Vera Lake will take you to the Willow Swamp where the half-marathoners will turn around and head back to the Community Center for the finish. The Marathoners will run all the way around the Willow Swamp to the Eagle Quest turn-off, run 1/2 mile to Eagle Quest Lodge and turn around. The course will be marked in both directions.
All courses are out-and-backs. It will be dark for a significant portion  of the race and possibly very cold. It will be easier to keep track of everyone and get runners help if needed. Once runners cross the road to Vera Lake, there will be no more possible road access until the Marathon turn-around at Eagle Quest Lodge. There are 2-3 places accessible by car where friends and family can cheer you on during the race.
Go here to see the race trails: http://waco-ak.org/uploads/Trails/Plan2006/West_Gateway_Trails.pdf
Please be aware that the trails you will be running on are multi-use. Please no dogs.  Expect to see both snowmachines and dog mushers.  They tend to be quite friendly and cautious around Willow, but sometimes they are moving fairly fast. Please give them the right of way.  Assume that motorized vehicles can not see you. Headphones are discouraged as they limit your reaction time.
Aid Stations: 
Willow Swamp: Turn around for 1/2 marathoners and first aid station for marathoners. There will be water provided here, cold and possibly hot as well. Marathoners will check in here out-bound and in-bound.  This is a Mandatory check-in.
Eagle Quest Lodge: Turn around for marathoners. There will be water, cold and hot, sports drinks and some snacks. There is a mandatory check-in here at Eagle Quest Lodge.
Finish: There will be hot refreshments and soup at the finish for racers.
There will be snowmachine aid along the course, tracking and monitoring racers. Do not hesitate to flag them down if you need help or assistance. 
Race rules:
1. You must check in/sign up by 8:30AM race morning. Race meeting starts at 8:35AM. If you do not pick up your bib or sign up by 8:30AM, you will have to wait until after the meeting. This may or may not be before 9AM.

2. Snowshoes and spiked shoes are allowed. You may need them!

3. Please do not litter on the trails. If you see obvious race-related trash (snowmachiners don't eat the new peanut butter GUs around here) please pick it up.

4. Half-marathoners- you must check in with a race official at the Willow Swamp aid station. Marathoners- you must check in three times- out-bound Willow Swamp,  Eagle Quest Lodge and in-bound Willow Swamp. If you do not check in with the race official, we will consider you not to have reached them. This is for your own safety.

5. Mandatoy gear: headlight. Recommended gear: insulated water system (with knowledge on how to keep it from freezing up!), spare undershirt, additional overlayer(s), handwarmers, reflective gear, food ( In addition to hat, gloves, coat etc). No outside assistance. Expect to be self-sufficient except for aid stations. 

6. Marathoners will be allowed one drop bag at Eagle Quest, transported from the start to the Lodge. We will return with this bag to the Community Center once all marathoners have checked in and out at Eagle Quest. This bag should be no bigger than a medium-sized duffle. No kitchen sinks, please.

7. Time cutoff: Time cutoff for both races will be approximately 9 hours.  If you don't think you can finish the marathon (in possibly very cold temperatures on snowy trails) in around 9 hours, please consider signing up for the half-marathon. This time cutoff for the marathon has you keeping up a pace of 3mi/hr. Race day race changes can be made on race day. If moving to a longer race, you will have to pay a difference in race fees. Please come by 8AM if wanting to change races.

8. No dogs. Running with a dog on or off leash as a race participant will result in disqualification. 

9. There will be no race refunds or transfers.  To clarify this statement, if you can not run the race, you will not receive a refund. You can not transfer your race entry fee to another race. If you can not run the race and do not come to bib pick-up before the race, we will not mail you your swag. You can not transfer your bib to another runner meaning if you can not run the race, and a friend, family member or co-worker wants to run, tell them to go to the sign up website like everyone else and sign up under their own name. You do not want to be a runner on the remote trails of Willow at -20, freezing your butt off with someone else's name associated with your bib. That would mean you do not exist according to our race info and we will not come to help you. First and foremost, this is a safety issue. If you e-mail us and ask for an exception to this rule (either because you have not read it or feel you deserve an exception) we will not reply. 
 *****We want to encourage people to come to Willow and run in the dead of winter! BUT! Please be aware that it may be cold and dark with very little direct sunlight. Please be prepared for a -30 to -40 below start and finish. It easily can get that cold here. Dead of winter is fun. Dead you, not so much. Check out our local weather and trail reports page for frequent updates. Please train for cold weather and be prepared with extra clothes, handwarmers and more extra clothes. THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR EXPERIENCE in the cold and knowing how to dress appropriately.  

*****If you have not spent time training in cold weather or running on snow, please do not sign up for this race, or stick with the 5K. You need to be  prepared for ANY and ALL winter conditions, including very cold weather and layering as well as warm weather with deep snow. If you are concerned about your training level at the time of the race, please down-grade to a shorter race. 
**** Willow often has much different trail conditions than the rest of Southcentral. We receive more snow, it is colder and grooming while excellent, is less packed if we receive a lot of snow. This is not Anchorage or Wasilla. If you want to simulate the race course, come up and run around Willow before the race. There are over 100 miles of groomed trails up here waiting for you! The Willow Trail Committee is an invaluable resource for trail conditions. They have an active Facebook page. 
 Post-race Fare:
- As in past years, we will have a soup/chili/cookie/whatever-you-want-to-bring Potluck. More info on this as we get closer to the race. We will plan to have baked goods for the 5K finishers and soup/chili for the half and marathon finishers. 

 Accommodations: One of the reasons we love living in Willow so much is the somewhat isolated nature of the location. Unfortunately, this is not the best for out-of-towners needing a place to stay in the winter. As we find possible places, we will post them below:
-Winter Park Cabins. 907-495-5884 winterparkcabins@mtaonline.net
- Eagle Quest Lodge and Cabins 495-1116 www.eaglequestalaska.com
Trail updates:
- OCt 16, 2017- hard frost with 12F temps in the AM.