I miss Alaska.
30 Days from now is the 2011 Crow Pass Crossing.
The single greatest race ever.
Here's photographic proof. Seriously, click on it. Just take a glance. Spend a minute. It's absolutely incredible. (Yes, that's Geoff Roes...beat me by 2+ hours...)
My cousin Josh, who lives in Palmer, AK and ran the race with me last year is entered once again and good for him. Can't wait to hear all about it again. Why? Because, if you weren't paying attention...it's the single greatest race ever.
Twenty Two miles (they claim "marathon" but I call BS) of sheer epicness. Sure, the word epic is a bit overused (thank you 2010) but for this particular instance it's very appropriate. You start the race surrounded by Alaskan men which by all means are larger, burlier than continental USA's breed of Men. It's true. Just show up for the Matanuska Peak Challenge...you'll see. You climb up this pass to the top of a ridge surrounded by the Raven glacier which you then proceed to hammer down to the Valley below. The valley that is not rumored to be but is factually filled with bears. In fact, the only bear I saw in 10 days in Alaska that summer was running this race. Mowing down some berries just off the trail.
The beauty of the trail is unmatched anywhere I have been in North America. For perspective I've been to every state except the Dakota's and Hawaii. Haven't seen everything but I've covered some ground. It's spectacular, stunning, mezmerizing.
The trail is more technical than anything I've ever run. I've ran Zane Grey twice and while the rocks are brutal and relentless the roots, and rocks of Crow Pass give it a fair run for it's money with the added mud and hidden factor.
Then you have the nearly 1/4 mile glacial river you cross that is thigh high and so cold you physically hurt. Seriously, I'm not being a pansy here, it's runoff from the glacier that you just ran off. It's unbelieveably cold. It took the next two miles to regain a realistic amount of blood flow to feel good again. (The Alaskans were walking too!)
And then you have the amazing final 11 miles that are marked with super technical trails skirting the river, lakes, ponds and through scree fields. You wander along through the forest in amazement that you are there, not so much focused on the racing but the sheer beauty of it all. At least I was.
The campers along the trail treat you like superheros cheering you along as you pass by, kids giving out water along the trail randomly and as you near the finish people having hiked from the Visitor Center egg you on to a faster pace, a longer stride, a stronger finish. Coming through the finish of Crow Pass was one of the greatest feelings I've had in any race I've attempted. The people are amazing and the amount of local coverage makes you feel like you are running the NYC marathon.
I wish I was going back. Maybe next year.