Friday, August 25, 2006

Equinox Marathon T - 22 Days

Outside of Alaska this race is practically unheard of, but here it is one of the biggies--especially in the Interior region, where local activities sometimes become larger as perceive through the provincial magnifying glass. However, this race certainly does deserve its reputation as Alaska's "oldest and toughest marathon." Indeed, the Equinox is one of the oldest and toughest marathons in North America. Founded in 1963, the race features approximately 4,000 vertical feet, mostly on rugged trails, including an 1,800 foot climb from mile 8 to 12.4 (with most of that climb from 9 to 12.4), to the "first" summit. Ironically, I find the downhill sections to be most challenging--first the "chute", at 17.1 miles, which plumits down a gravelly power line from 2,400 feet to about 1,800 in less than 1/2 mile, and then the next 8 miles drop another 1,300 feet. It is in these sections that I feel most vulnerable. The challenge with this course includes energy management and glycogen depletion, but also the ability to keep your legs moving quickly after some 2 hours of climbing and technical running.

I have been preparing for the Equinox since late June, and with only three weeks to go, all seems well. As more of a middle distance and semi-long distance runner, the marathon is somewhat beyond my comfort zone. These days I feel fairly confident racing anything from the mile through maybe 30 kilometers, but beyond that is a gamble. Nevertheless I've done the work, or as much as feasible and have averaged about 65 miles a week since June, not quite as much as I'd hoped for, but it's a solid running base on top of the cardiovascular volume accumulated during ski season. More importantly, I have been able to put in the requisite long runs throughout the summer, and by the time I start my taper in a week, I'll have logged in about eight or nine runs of 15 miles or more, including several 20 - 21 milers. In addition, I've run another eight or ten 12 to 14 mile efforts, and most of these include several miles at marthon pace or faster.

It's hard to compare Equinox times and those from a flatter road marathon, but the course appears to be 15 to 25 minutes slower (depending on your pace) for those who would normally run 3 hours or faster on a relatively fast course such as New York, Boston, or Chicago. The course record is 2:41 for men and 3:18 for women. The 3:00 barrier has only been broken 53 times by about 25 men. At this point, I'd be most thrilled to challenge the master's record of 2:58, set in 1988 by Frank Bozanich. That would be a tall order. A more realistic standard would be to aim to break 3:05. If I can manage the downhills without breaking down, maybe a few minutes under that. If the weather is poor, or if I just don't have it on that day, a couple of minutes slower would still be acceptable. Anything slower than 3:10 would be disappointing.

This will be my 2nd attempt at Equinox. In 2004, our first year in Alaska, I ran a train-delayed 3:12:24 (a freight train passed through the course at mile 8, which delayed me and two other runners by 2 or 3 minutes). At the time I was listed in the archives as the course record holder for age 46, but alas they've found that someone ran 20 seconds faster back in 1982. I should appeal for an asterisk due to the train delay, but that would probably be met with derision and ridicule. I'll just have to make up for it in a big way this year.

Stay tuned for pictures and stories.


Blogger james said...

what did your final time wind up at? I ran my first marathon during the equinox '06, in 5 hr. 55 sec. I am hoping to come back and do 4 hr. even, give or take. Was life changing...:)

12:54 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home