|My last frontier and the family photo finish I hoped for!|
Retire? Take up cycling? Redo the 5 states that are not under 3 hours? You guessed it, I'll redo marathons in WY, ME, NM, SD, VT - and DC while I'm at it - to tidy this thing up and become the 8th known person to complete that feat... or 9th... or who cares?! This isn't a race against others; I just want to achieve what I set out to do as A Bear On The Run... what? I like bears and I like running. Alaska was the perfect place for my 50th state marathon!
|1st place Masters bear!|
This trip began on Father's Day, 6 days before the race. Traveling with my kids on Father's Day was not the gift you think it could have been but by playing a zone defense on the 6 and 1/2 hour flight, we managed to arrive in Anchorage intact to enjoy dinner and beers at Humpy's Ale House.
We drove to Denali National Park the following morning for a rare glimpse of Denali Peak, a family hike, and the kids' 1st Junior Ranger program - an activity offered by our National Park Service at each park to promote exploration, learning, and protection of our parks to the next generation of conservationists.
|An easy 2-mile family hike at Denali Visitor Center|
|"As a Junior Ranger, I promise..."|
|The plane! The plane!|
|Should we be turning our back on a field full of bears?|
|The kids are like mountain goats, climb they did!|
|30 minutes of kid-free "play"|
|Making room for that yak burger - not worth $25|
|Our one other tour buddy, Kurt, assimilated quick enough|
|Mars's second state 1-mile race!|
|Shakeout run - we're almost all here!|
|Pledging to not screw this one up!|
The reviews don't do this course justice, it's beautiful and full of variety. Beginning at a high school, the first few miles transition from road to bike path then to a gravel road that carves its way through the foothills along Chugach State Park, diverging onto approximately 2 miles of single track trail that led us to the highest point on the course. Those 15 miles were rolling and climbing before returning onto the asphalt for a fast downhill mile 16. The rest of the course is downhill to flat except for that sadistic climb in the last 3/4 mile that I had previously scoped out.
|Those old Nike 4% shoes got me 7 sub-3-marathons out of 7 races and a PR!|
With 50 states now complete, I've compiled a short list of stats via a post to Strava, linked HERE.
|Family finish photo|
|We started on the rooftop at King Street Brewing Co.|
|Stop # 3 - Turnagain, where details get a bit blurry|
|Where the Iditarod Trail begins|
|Mt. Marathon towering over a cute church-turned-coffee shop|
|You'll love trains after this trip!|
First stop: Iditarod dog sled tour! What's more Alaskan than learning about the dogs that compete in this grueling 1,000-mile race from Anchorage to Nome in March from the family that is accustomed to winning?
Next stop: Exit Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park - where the kids earned their 2nd Junior Ranger badge. This short hike brought us to an overlook where we took in the views of a glacier literally melting before us; that heatwave was here!
|Exit Glacier hike with the little mountain goats|
|Kid took half my dinner!|
|Catch and release, ha! Notice the crab leg shells.|
|Spotting beluga whales|
And then there was the cruise. Look, you just had to be there! This was my favorite part of the trip and the most relaxing way to finish. If ever you go to Alaska, you MUST do the cruise. I'll just leave these pics to tell a bit of the story:
|Kayaking at port stop #1: Glacier Bay|
|Some of the LRC group before a run around Hoonah, AK.|
|Port stop #2 - panning for gold in Juneau|
|A run up Mt. Roberts Trail, Juneau|
|We have unlimited drinks but... Devil's Club Brewery, Juneau|
|Dancing, a LOT of dancing|