Humpy's Marathon in Anchorage, Alaska!

Hello Friends, Family and Neighbors-

Just back from Anchorage, AK where I had a fantastic time running Humpy's marathon.  The race is sponsored by Humpy's Great Alaskan Alehouse which is a cross between a wild west saloon and Cheers, with too many beers on tap to count, bar stools always filled and local bands featured on most nights.

blues band rocking the stage at Humpy's
I came directly to Anchorage from Vancouver, BC where I participated in the Lululemon Ambassador Summit Meeting.  This was a magical few days of company-learning and self-growth (more on this in a separate post).  Favorite daughter #2 navigated three airports to join me in The City of Flowers (Anchorage) and we got in as much as we could in our three days there.

Alaska is one big state!  It is the northern, western and easternmost point is the United States.  Think about that.  Northern most point, sure, Western most point, ok, but Eastern?  Get this, The Aleutian Chain extends into the Eastern Hemisphere and crosses the International Date Line.  Cool.  It is the largest U.S. state by area, the least densely populated and has a longer coastline than ALL other U.S. states combined...

Map showing Alaska superimposed over the continental united states
looking back over water into Anchorage

From the locals I talked to, I got the feeling that Alaskans don't much like big government telling them what to do.  Washington, DC and all of its politicians certainly seemed faraway and insignificant...

They love their own, with obvious admiration for Sarah Palin -- drove by Wasilla -- and palpable sadness over the loss of Ted Stevens.

*Factoid: AK has one registered pilot for every 58 residents -- 6X as many pilots per capita and 14X as many airplanes per capita than the rest of the U.S..

looking towards a faraway glacier

*Factoid: Anchorage -- Alaska's largest city with 42% of the state's population -- sits at the base of the Chugach Mountains and is surrounded by glaciers.  60 of Alaska's 100,000 glaciers are within 50 miles of Anchorage.

And so, without further adieu...

The Good
  • The Moose Encounter.  Favorite Daughter #2 and I encountered this Bull Moose along the Anchorage Coastal Trail.  We watched him for a while before he started walking towards us and (thankfully) veering off to the other side of the trail.  Too close for comfort! 
Bull Moose
  • Biking the Anchorage Coastal Trail.  This winding coastal trail led us through scented forests and by sweeping vistas.
looking through flowers to the mountains beyond

                    little mushrooms that littered the forest floor
Green forest floor.  *Factoid: Anchorage broke a record for the most consecutive days of rain while we were there... 28 days.

  • ATV (All Terrain Vehicle) adventure across Alaskan back country.  Single file through mud lakes -- deep enough for soaked shoes -- and over gnarled tree roots and rocks.  Cool, but.......
...why did I wear white?

for surroundings like this...

me and Favorite Daughter #2

  • Meeting up with Bart Yasso, the official Mayor of Running, and Debbie Cropper, 3 time winner of Humpy's marathon and winner of the inaugural Outback marathon.  She and I were in Australia together just two weeks ago.  Serendipitous!

Debbie, Bart and me

  • The Marathon.  I have not felt this light, this strong and this good -- during a marathon -- in a while.  Spiritual.  Placed 2nd in my AG (age group), was the 14th female finisher and 55th finisher overall.  Why?  Why two weeks after running The Outback marathon and trashing my quads hiking -- then running down -- the Grouse Grind (Vancouver's premium trail with an elevation gain of 2,800') just days before.  Who knows, I was just happy for it!

just before race start
product testing this hydration belt

  • Meeting Michelle.  She and I live miles from each other but met for the first time in Anchorage.  She is honoring her mothers' memory by running a 1/2 marathon a month for 12 months.  This is a link to her blog.  Go Michelle!
me and Michelle at race start
  • My 2nd AG coffee mug...
my winnings

No Bad and No Ugly
(sorry, I know this can be fun...)

Many have been asking about my progress in my quest (to run a marathon on every continent, in each of the 50 states and the 5 marathon majors -- a marathon a month -- for Alexandria charities).  Click here to read more about my 2010 RunningBrooke beneficiaries.  Here are the stats:
    Easter Island, Chile
  • 5 Continents done -- North America (various), South America (Easter Island, Chile -- 1st Female Finisher), Europe (Berlin), Asia (The Great Wall, China) and Australia (Ayers Rock in The Outback).  Only Africa and Antarctica (March, 2012) to go.
  • 4 out of 5 Marathon Majors done --  Berlin, Boston, Chicago and New York.  London is scheduled for next April.  Thanks Marathon Tours for getting me in (again).
  • 14 States done -- AK (2nd AG), FL, MA (Boston 4X), OR, OK, MD (JFK 50), TN, PA (PR of 3:09), AZ (1st AG), NV (2nd AG), VA (MCM 2X -- 5th AG in '07 -- and Richmond), IL, NY and MN.  The rest of 2010: NE, CO, NC and SC.
  • Over $22,000.00 raised for Alexandria's at-risk children and families.
  • Phili Distance Run
  • 23 marathons to date, at least one a month run since October, 2009, and feeling strong!  Also, over the years,  I've competed in the JFK50 (50 mi. ultra marathon, qualified for Western States), The Seagull Century (100 mi bike race), The Lake Anna 1/2 Triathlon  (1.2 mi. swim, 52 mi. bike and 13.1 mi. run, 1st AG) and the Philadelphia Distance Run (1/2 marathon, PR of 1:29).

My next race is in Omaha, NE in late September where I'll meet up with the 50 States Marathon Club members.  Some fun RunningBrooke invitations will be coming out soon;  I hope that you all will be able to join me.  Cheers!


The Land Down Under, Australia and the Outback marathon report!


Hello Friends, Family and Neighbors-

Fifth continent done and two more (Africa and Anarctica) to go on my quest to run a marathon on every continent, in each of the 50 states, and the 5 marathon majors -- a marathon a month -- for Alexandria, VA charities.  This year I'm running and raising money for: Girls on the RunCommunity LodgingsThe Reading ConnectionACT for Alexandria and Child & Family Network Centers.

Favorite Daughter #1 and I had a terrific time, first in Sydney, and then in The Outback.  What a great and diverse country.  

Sydney, in New South Wales, is an amazing city.  It reminds me of San Francisco (water and boats -- sail, ferry, and commercial, points and coves), New York city (blocks and blocks of downtown skyscrapers) and London (driving on the opposite side of the road and old cobbled lane ways through historic townhomes/shop areas), all wrapped up in one.

The Rocks: Sydney's oldest quarter where we traced the footsteps of spice traders and convicts.

*Factoid:  A third of all Sydneysiders are foreign born.

*Factoid:  The country is slightly smaller than the contiguous US states and the climate, wow, goes from temperate to tropical/subtropical to desert.
The Opera House

The Opera House with Sydney Harbor Bridge
(the bridge we climbed!)

The Opera House (below) and The Opera House with the Sydney Harbor Bridge behind highlight this part of the harbor.

*Factoid:  Aboriginal presence in the Sydney area has been dated to 43,000 BC.

The first British fleet landed in Sydney Cove in the late 1700’s carrying more than 1,000 convicts, soldiers, administrators and their families.  Soon after that, Sydney’s first free settlers began to arrive.  In 1840, the transportation of convicts ceased and the rest is history.

The Outback was a three hour flight NW into the Northern Territory.  We left the city and once over the mountains, the terrain turned flat, then red and flat, with scrubby vegetation.  Soon, we saw Ayers Rock (Uluru) and The Olgas (Kata Tjuta).  It was as if these enormous red masses had been dropped out of the sky onto the flat, desert floor.
Ayers Rock at Sunrise
*Factoid:  Ayers Rock is carved from one huge unfractured, piece of rock.  It is 2 1/4 miles long and rises 1,141 feet above the surrounding scrub.

*Factoid:  About 500 million years ago, this was all part of the ocean floor.  Amazing...

So without further adieu...
The Good
Sydney - city sites and surrounds.

  • The Harbor Bridge climb.  We climbed along catwalks and ladders to the top of the upper arch span for a jaw-dropping 360 degree views -- ocean to the east, mountains to the west and the harbor city all around us.

443 feet above Sydney Harbor

  • Famous Bondi Beach (for surfing and catching the sights).

Koala at Featherdale Park
  • Featherdale Wildlife Park.  A day-long adventure outside Sydney.  At the park, we were able to get up close to some of Australia’s most famous animals including koalas,  kangaroos and crocodiles.

Featherdale Park

Feeding the Emu and hoping I won't get attacked!

    Deep in the valley
  • The Blue Mountains.  Where we hiked the trails down and back up, twisting through the rainforest and along gorgeous waterfalls.

The Blue Mountains and The Three Sisters (rock formation)

The Outback - red sand and scrub,  Ayers Rock and The Olgas.

  •  Sunrise at Uluru (Ayers Rock).  Started the day watching the sun rise and the colors change on Ayers Rock.

  •  Sounds of Silence Dinner.  BBQ buffet, under a canopy of brilliant stars, with traditional fare (crocodile, kangaroo and Barramundi) while our Star Talker took us on a journey of the night sky...  constellations, The Southern Cross, The Milky Way, and Mars, Venus and Saturn all lined up in a row.
*Factoid:  You can’t see the North Star in the Southern Hemisphere.  Makes sense, I had just never thought about it...

Kangaroo, Barramundi and Crocodile

  •  Camel Tour.  A cameleer led our small group on Dromedary camels (one humped) along paths, for great sights (again) of Ayers Rock and The Olgas.  Camels were imported into Australia and are now a common sight in Central Australia.  With no known predators or diseases, numbers are estimated to be over a million wild camels wandering the desert regions.
Camel Caravan

  • Dot Painting Workshop with an Aboriginal guide and interpreter.  I have no photos of this as we were not allowed to take pictures, but Favorite Daughter #1 and I were able to listen, learn and then paint our own story using traditional Anangu (native Aboriginal people) symbols and techniques.  We heard both the Uluru (Ayers Rock) creation stories and the creation stories of the surrounds, how Kuniya (woman python), Liru (poisonous snake), Mala (hare-wallaby) and Lungkata (blue-tongue lizard) created the land.
    Race Morning
  • Marathon.  Goes without saying.  I got a chance to run 26.2 miles in the Australian Outback!

Didjeridoo player at race start
click here to watch a youtube video

*Factoid:  The Aboriginal didjeridoo is likely the oldest instrument in the wind family.

Kelly (from marathon tours) and me

No Bad and No Ugly!
(except for a little jet lag...)
I’m off again; this time to Vancouver, BC  (Lululemon Ambassador Summit Meeting) and then to Anchorage, AK (August marathon... why not since I'm already out here?).  Cheers everyone and thanks to those who have contributed lately.  Remember, I pay all of my own travel expenses and associated fees.  Ever dollar you donate goes to the charities listed above and is 100% tax deductible.  To lace up your shoes and contribute for at-risk Alexandrians, follow this link ACT for Alexandria and the prompts within.  Just remember to indicate The RunningBrooke Fund in the comment box (online) or memo line (check).  Your support means a lot to me and gives me energy for this crazy and thrilling adventure.