Registration is still open for this Saturday’s Duff’s Skagway Marathon. The 6th-annual event starts at 8 a.m. on the Broadway Dock.
The race is 5 percent tough, and 95 percent brutal, according to race director Kristin Wagner. In fact, the event’s mantra is “This race ain’t for sissies.” But…
“There’s just a lot of people who are active here, but may be not that hardcore, so for some people they want to be part of the fun, they want to be outdoors and be outside,” Wagner says. “That’s the whole point of doing this; it gets people healthy and active and outdoors. So, we added the walking half and it’s been really fun.”
The race, which Wagner calls “beefy,” features a full marathon – 26.2 miles – a half marathon, and a half marathon for walkers. It’s competitive, but only for those who want it to be. Others can go out for fun and a personal challenge.
So, what makes this Alaska’s toughest marathon?
“There are a lot of hills, and a lot of rolling hills because it goes out to Dyea. For the full marathon, you go up to the top of West Creek Road, and that’s a doozy.”
The event starts on the ocean, on the Broadway Dock, runs through historic downtown Skagway, then out the Klondike Highway to Dyea and West Creek. The terrain is not only hilly, but runners and walkers will face pavement, gravel roads and dirt trails.
Last year, the event drew around 100 participants from all over the state, the Yukon and the Lower 48. This year, Wagner says, they’ll most likely surpass that.
“We might be looking at one of our highest years because I checked the registration last night and we up to 95, I believe. And all of Skagway registers last minute … that’s our M.O.”
Wagner says she’s a little bit in denial when it comes to the weather, but if it turns bad, that’ll only add to the tough reputation. As of Tuesday, the National Weather Service was calling for mostly cloudy skies on Saturday with a chance of rain and a little wind. Not too bad for Skagway, Wagner says.
“We have a saying: ‘Rain or shine, outside all the time’ because that’s just what you’ve gotta do in Alaska.”
The race organization recently received nonprofit status thanks to the Skagway Development Corporation. Wagner says as the event gets settled they’d like to set up a scholarship program for local students.
It takes more than 30 volunteers to make the marathon run smoothly, and Wagner says this year they managed to get local businesses to man the aid stations along the way. The race is sponsored by the Municipality of Skagway and Duff’s Backcountry Outfitters.
Those interested in taking on the challenge can sign up online until this Wednesday at 11:59 p.m. Registration for all three events is $40. Last minute sign-up is available on Friday evening from 5-8 p.m. at the AB Hall to coincide with the bib pickup. Add another $10 for a late signup.
More information and registration at skagwaymarathon.org.