Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Read the Equinox: Alaska's Trailblazing Marathon!

The Equinox: Alaska's Trailblazing Marathon a Great Read!

I got my copy of The Equinox by Matias Saari in the mail the other week and wanted to chime in with a brief review. It's a great read. I've read a lot of running books (concurrently was reading Running With The Buffaloes, a classic by Chris Lear) and Matias' long-awaited tome of the history and highlights of Interior Alaska's flagship running race rates up there as a good one.

I'm not done yet but have made my way through much of it not cover to cover but going over it a semi-logical order of interest: the people I know, the race's highlights and glory days, and its history from the beginning is what I've gotten though so far and I haven't been disappointed. So if you haven't picked up or ordered a copy, you should do so.


I really enjoyed the compare-contrast of 1990s-2000s multi winners Mike Kramer and Kevin Brinnegar. I enjoyed running and racing with them in Fairbanks. And of course the book highlights of the epic 70s-80s battles with Justice and Murphy; in particular 1983 with Pat Cross's 2:42 and 1984 when Stan Justice broke the record with an astounding 2:41. And I closely read Matias's own account of his rise from bonking beginner, to frustrated also-ran, to multi-champion and age group record smasher.

Likewise the accounts of the women's record holders from Tina Devine, Jane LeBlond, Sue Faulkner, and Christy Marvin. I coached with Tina and Sue for many years, and Jane's also a friend. It was kind of weird being sort of the sidebar (if not foil) on Marvin's record run but Matias did a good job of capturing her race and the day.

I'm totally enjoying reading about the history of the event and look forward to filling in the gaps.

Facing Some of My Own Foibles and Shortcomings

Of course one the first things I looked at were the sections where I may or may not have been mentioned.

I was a bit surprised to see that the author remembers as being "very agitated" during the infamous train delay in my debut effort in 2004. Well, hell yes, I was agitated. Who stops for a train in the middle of a marathon? But if that's the case, then Bob Murphy could be described as livid. He swore up a storm in those two and half minutes and for the next 10 until we got to the Ester Dome. I do recall that Matias was pretty quiet, and other runners that came up to behind us were somewhat in-between.

How About a Little Love Here? Scattered in the pages are several mentions of past legends setting the record in the 50+ age group but no mention of 2009, 2013, and 2014 other than in the tables. Relays a bit short on those too, but what was in there was good. (was on 3 winning teams, men's in 2007 and 2009, and masters record in 2011).

Stepping Back Out

In the end I miss some things about Alaska and community in Fairbanks, some things less so. It's enjoyable being somewhat anonymous here. Show up to a race here and practically no one knows who I am and the only ones that might remotely care are in my age group. We have some pretty good races many times a year and the camaraderie is good. So many choices with dozens of road and trail events every weekend.



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