2013 Willow Winter Solstice Marathon,
Half-marathon and 5K
December 21st, 2013
New for this year- a 5K for those of you waiting on your crazier running friends and family!
On this page, you'll find:
Overview of race information
Route: An out-and-back course
taking you from the Willow Community Center, winding
through Willow Area lakes and on to Red Shirt Lake in Nancy Lake Recreation Area. The course is almost entirely on winter trails.
Distance: 26.2+ mile Marathon, 13.1 mile half-marathon or 5K.
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 $60, Half marathon$40, 5K $30, Virtual Runner $40 on-line. Race day sign-up Marathon $70, half-marathon $50, 5K $40.
On-line sign-up: www.ultrasignup.com, search Willow Winter Solstice
Long sleeve tech T-shirts to all participants, finisher prizes
What is a virtual runner, you ask?
Not everyone can make it up to Alaska (or wants to!) this time of year, so we set up a Virtual Runner( VR). If you sign up as a VR, you will be assigned to a marathoner we have chosen to represent all those VRs (don't worry, he's fast!). You will receive a race time, a race t-shirt and finisher award. So you can sit back in the sun, drink your MaiTai and think of all of us with icicles plastered to our noses and know you are supporting an awesome race.
All groups will start at 9AM together, at Willow Community center. Taking the trail across Willow Lake, you will then come up on the only 1/4 mile of pavement, crossing over to Elmsweiler Swamp, heading south to Long Lake. The 5Kers will turn around here. The rest of you will turn right onto the John Lake trail, run on the Crystal Lake Road trail, crossing over to Boot Lake. Boot Lake then joins with Vera Lake Trail. 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.
Both 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 Boot 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. Bringing dogs is discouraged for safety reasons due to a potential for trapping on a significant portion of the trail system. 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 allowed but discouraged as they limit your reaction time.
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. Mandatory check-in
Eagle Quest Lodge: Turn around for marathoners. There will be water, cold and hot, sports drinks and some snacks. Mandatory check-in
Finish: There will be hot refreshments and soup at the finish for racers.
Race rules (of course there have to be some 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, spare undershirt, handwarmers, reflective gear, food.
6. Time cutoff: Time cutoff for both races will be approximately 9 hours. This is flexible since this is the first year for the race. 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.
*****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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Eagle Quest Lodge and Cabins 495-1116 www.eaglequestalaska.com
December 17, 2013: Right now it is -30 and Dave is out on a training run! The trails are firming up very nicely with this cold weather and it looks to warm up for the weekend. Looks like we will see between 2-5 inches of snow the days before and day of the race. This should not impact the trails a great deal except to give a bit of a cushion and slow your pace down a bit.