When Heather King posts that it's time to take down a new race, the black running community always responds in record numbers. However, this time it was quite different; Alaska was the intended destination. One might think, why would anyone desire to run a marathon or half marathon all the way in Anchorage, Alaska? Well, the answer is simple. Within this recreational running community, many runners set goals. One of those lofty goals is to run a marathon, or half marathon in all 50 states. An even loftier goal is to run a marathon on each of the seven continents. When I saw the call that black runners were descending on Alaska in June of 2022, it was a no brainer for me to register. I too had a goal to run a half-marathon in each of the 50 U.S. states, so why not partake in the adventure with 200+ individuals who looked just like me. I don't think there will ever be another opportunity to run any race in Alaska with this many brown and black faces in attendance.
Getting to Alaska was both logistically and financially challenging. I had been watching air and hotel prices for months and they never budged. I finally booked my airfare right before flight prices started getting astronomical. $550 was a bargain for a roundtrip ticket from NYC to Anchorage. The hotel prices were a different story. Anchorage is a beautiful city, but certain parts of the city could be very sketchy, so booking the more affordable Air BNB was not an option for me as I was traveling alone. Similar to the airfare, the hotel prices never budged. Hotel rooms ranged from $300-$500 per night. My entire stay was $1000 for the hotel only. Add in food, ground transportation, and excursions, and Alaska became one of my most expensive runcations to date. Even more expensive than a Euro trip! I chatted with Heather to get the final registration numbers for Team Take Down, and out of the 120 Marathoners, and 242 Half Marathoners that were registered, 40 marathoners and 152 half marathoners towed the line. Heather said, "The airline tickets and hotels became a financial hardship." These are still very respectable numbers, and I am sure we brought a whole lot of our black dollars to Anchorage that weekend.
On to getting to Alaska. Race day was Saturday, June 18, 2022, so most people would start their journey to Alaska between Tuesday and Thursday. Well, this weekend happened to be one of the worse travel days in the U.S. due to bad weather, and the abundance of flight cancellations that have been going on lately. I was delayed in NYC for 4 hours, but others were delayed for even longer periods with some arriving after their intended date. Arriving to the Anchorage airport is wild! If you didn't know, in the summer Alaska sees 20+ hours of daylight. I for one never saw the night sky for the entire 4 nights that I was there, so landing at 10pm to pure daylight was incredible.
A huge shoutout goes to the runners who are super diligent about their sport. Theneshia Glaze-Culpepper organized a shakeout run bright and early on Friday at 6:30am. While I was not too excited to partake because of the early start time, I was so glad that I did. There were about 50 runners who came out and ran 3-6 miles before the big day. It was nice to stretch out the legs, read some funny signs about watching out for Moose, and of course, taking a million pics. This is a prerequisite to join the black running community...I kid!
Bib pickup was held over 2 days at the Alaska Airlines Center on the UAA Campus. A lot of people kept referring to it as an expo, but an expo it was not. It was simply bib pickup. The pickup was very organized, you simply handed over your ID and were given a random number and pointed in the direction to grab your race shirt. This was a
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