Saturday, January 16, 2016

Northern Lights Resolution Run recap

On New Year's Eve, 2014, my friend Brooke and I ran Skinny Raven's Northern Lights Resolution Run, a fun 5k in Anchorage. It was a really fun run, enough that we decided that we had to do it again this year, and we did.  There were a few changes from last year, including a different starting and finish point, which was on the APU (Alaska Pacific University) campus this year.

(This is a Skinny Raven pic, not mine)

 This meant that we had a little bit of a walk to the starting area, but really, if we are about to run 5k, we can't really complain about a half mile walk, right?? The only problem was that the roads into Anchorage were pretty slick and icy that night, and it took us longer than we planned to get there, so it turned into a half mile jog instead of walk, and we got to the starting line only about 5 minutes before the race start.

The route changes this year, all in all, were a positive thing. Last year, we had to go up a narrow flight of stairs, which was really a bottleneck, with people walking slowly up them, so as not to fall on the ice. I was glad that the route did not include the stairs this year. The one disappointing this is that there was a tunnel we ran through last year that was all lit up, and the route did not include that this year either. Here's this year's course:

There were almost 1,000 people running it this year, which made for a crowded start line:

The route included some roads and parking lots, but mostly was on trails with packed snow and some ice. Even the roads, though, were snowy and icy. I wore my Icebugs and Brooke wore Yaktraks on her running shoes, and we were very glad to have them. It would have been a pretty slippery run without them. Skinny Raven did a great job of updating runners through email in the day or so before the run about the course conditions, and strongly encouraged people to have some sort of traction, like the Icebugs or Yaktraks.

At the bib pickup, they handed out T-shirts if you bought one, as well as a Salomon buff, flashing light up rings and wands. The buff was much nicer looking than last year's. It was black with Salomon written in grey, with red, yellow, and blue blocks of color in what looked like random spots. The wands were big, but not heavy at all. They were made of styrofoam, and they were much less annoying to carry than I anticipated, and they lit up and blinked and were pretty fun:

Along the course, which they said was "about 5k", and which Map My Run said was 2.76 miles, there were several places where they had set up lights of various types. There were colored lanterns in big paper balls:

There was a tunnel made of what appeared to be rebar, with color changing lights strung along it:

There was a spot where some big screens were set up with lights shining on them, so that your shadows showed on the screens as you ran by. Some people jumped or posed by them. We kept running.

The coolest thing, however, is something I wasn't able to get a good picture of. The course completely circled University Lake. As you ran around the lake, you could see runners all the way around it, with their lighted wands, headlights, and other lights moving and bobbing as they ran. It was really neat, and very pretty.

There were so many people, and because we were late, we started so far back in the crowd, that it was really impossible to get a good run on. I felt like we were constantly getting trapped behind slower runners or even walkers. There were very few places along the route where we were really able to stretch our legs and run at a good pace. Brooke and I are pretty good running partners, and run at roughly the same pace, but I was constantly worrying about us losing each other in the crowd. Thus, our time wasn't impressive, but we had fun, and that was the whole point!

The finish line was in the same spot as the start, and we ran through these inflated arches that were lit up and changed color. That was my last finish line of 2015. Unfortunately, there were so many people finishing at once, that there isn't a good picture of me crossing the finish line. I hate it when that happens.

(This is a Skinny Raven pic, not mine)

They had a great after party, with a DJ, hot apple cider or coffee from Kaladi Brothers, and lots of swag giveaways, which is always awesome. I won some more light up rings and wands for the kids, and a ceramic travel coffee mug which will be perfect for hot cocoa on cold mornings.

This was a really fun race, and a great way to celebrate New Year's Eve. I think the only thing that would have made it cooler is if it started just before or at midnight. But maybe they would have less runners because people would be partying instead, IDK.

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