Chilly morning heats up at 49th annual Equinox Marathon
Erin McGroarty/Sun Star Reporter
Sept. 20, 2011
It was a typical mid-September morning. Frost covered the windshields of every car, crunchy leaves carpeted the ground, cool air turned breath to fog. To the 516 runners participating in the 49th annual Equinox Marathon, it was not just any September morning. While the rest of Fairbanks enjoyed a calm Saturday morning with a cup of hot coffee and a newspaper, these athletes had already begun a 26.2 mile course that gradually and painfully gains and loses approximately 2,000 feet in elevation throughout the race. The event began and ended on the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) campus.
The Equinox Marathon, founded in 1963, is a time-honored tradition that brings the running community of Fairbanks together. Hundreds of runners participate in this marathon each year and even more pour out of their homes to watch the race at different points along the course. Whether walking, jogging, wogging, running or relay-racing, the Equinox has something for everyone’s race tastes.
This year brought something new. Breaking Matias Saari’s winning streak of two years in a row, UAF Cross Country Running and Skiing assistant coach Matt Dunlap finished in first place with a time of 2:51:34. Not only was this Dunlap’s first time winning the marathon, but also his first time racing in the competition at all.
“I was a little nervous at the beginning because I knew how competitive the men’s bracket was,” Dunlap said. “I honestly was hoping for a place in the top four maybe, but I had no idea I would get first place.” Dunlap smiled and said “this is just a really cool experience. You’re just out there in the middle of nowhere on Ester Dome, and there are all these people cheering you on. It’s great.”
Soon to follow Dunlap was Stian Stensland, a runner-up in the 2009 race, who finished with a time of 2:56:07. Just barely more than two minutes later, fellow former UAF runner, Chris Eversmen, finished with a time of 2:58:10. Three-time winner Matias Saari took fourth place with a time of 2:58:48.
Three-time winner Laura Brosius won the women’s race with a time of 3:27:47. Although Brosius said she felt a little unprepared for the marathon this year, she was still able to pull first place. “I was hoping for second or third maybe, but I’m really happy I was able to get first,” Brosius said. She was soon followed by runner up Melissa Lewis, who finished with a time of 3:28:57.
“Lewis is a really strong opponent,” Brosius said. “So I was a little nervous toward the end, but I felt strong and solid the rest of the race so I was able to pull through.” Lewis was soon followed by West Valley ski coach Davya Flaharty, with a time of 3:34:30. Chad Charroll, running for the team Novelty Size Bananas, won the relay race. He was soon followed by Hannibal Grubis who ran for the team Masters of the Universe. They were followed by the first and second place women’s relay runners, Heather Best and Krista Heeringa.