5 Winter Running Events You Should Be Braving

If you know anyone in Alaska, especially Fairbanks, you’ve heard them complain loudly about the frigid temperatures this week.  You know when an Alaskan complains about the cold, it is some serious business!  With temperatures in the interior down to -50F and at some places even colder, it really is something to complain about.  Most people stay inside near their heater or fire when the weather gets this cold, but there is an intrepid bunch of die hard athletes that venture out in every kind of weather just to go for a run.

In fact, there are running events held all year in Alaska, and in places like Fairbanks it is a steadfast tradition that will never die.  There are racing events held every weekend, but we’ve complied a list of some of the most challenging and most fun winter running events.  Are you brave enough to try one of these out?

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Winter sports bring the hazard of freezing everything, including your face. Best to protect it with a beard while running. Image courtesy of Jesse Davis Images.

 

  1. Susitna 100 – This race will really test your grit!  Held in mid February along snow-packed snow machine and sled dog trails, this race is 100 miles through the frozen wilderness of the Susitna River Valley.  You have the option to run, ski, or bike and there is also a 50K race if you aren’t up for 100 miles.  To top it all off, you’re not just propelling yourself forward through the tundra, but all your gear as well.  48 hours to complete means that you will be pulling along a sled filled with the gear you’ll need to survive. You are your own happy little sled dog!
  2. White Mountains 100 – Maybe the Susitna 100 is too far south and you really want to freeze some toes off.  Well, we have you covered with the White Mountains 100, another 100 miler that you can run, ski, or bike. This race traverses the White Mountains north of Fairbanks. Held in late March and in it’s 8th iteration, this race is not for the faint of heart!
  3. George Bloom Memorial Midday Sun Fun Run – Most people rarely use the words fun and run in the same sentence, especially regarding winter running.  This run however is more our style.  Held mid December in Fairbanks, this run is a leisurely 6.5 miles that loops around the University of Alaska Fairbanks through rolling hills that snake through communities of cozy cabins filled with people staying warm, not running and freezing their eyelashes to brittle icicles. This run is free and a favorite among locals, but the warning that the race is run “regardless of temperature” has us a little suspicious and shivering already.

    How about a fun run through the snow?  Image courtesy of Colleen Sackinger.
    How about a fun run through the snow? Image courtesy of Colleen Sackinger.
  4. St. Patrick’s Day Run – Another Fairbanks ‘fun run’ favorite is the St. Patrick’s Day Run.  Obviously this run is held on a weekend closest to St. Patrick’s Day, so the weather is a bit warmer, usually.  It isn’t unheard of to still get snaps of -30F even in March, but lately temperatures in March are bearable. So grab your green tutu and run a cheery 7.1 miles through snowy trails and make sure to reward yourself with a beer afterward!
  5. Training Sessions – You don’t need an official race to go run in the cold!  The Running Club North in Fairbanks has a couple on going training sessions you can torture–I mean reward–yourself with all winter long.  The ‘Fahrenheit Be Darned’ group meets on Wednesdays to train through all sorts of winter conditions. -40F?  Ice fog? Ice?!  No problem, they got this!  If you need more of a carrot to get you moving out into the cold, the Hoodoo Goldstream Beer Runs are held every Thursday through the winter.  1 to 3 miles and the promise of a tasty beer afterwards?  We are in!
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