There will be a couple of reroutes for the 2013 Equinox events. One reroute is at the top of Ester Dome. The other reroutes are at the start and finish at the Patty Center.
Maps below depict the changes.
Top of Ester Dome
At the top of Ester Dome the Equinox Marathon/Relay/Ultra is no longer permitted to use the trail segment that departs North from Ester Dome Road and takes runners around the backside of the antennas on the Observatory Summit. There is no possibility of using that trail segment now or in the future. We entertained the possibility of an alternate route behind the antennas that would have ascended the powerline swath west of the existing trail, but the width of the area that we had permission to use would not accommodate the construction of a trail that could accommodate the two-way traffic on the Out-and-Back without leaving the trail subject to erosion and making a lot of sharp turns on sidehills. It was impractical and would not have lasted.
Therefore, we have chosen to simply remain on Ester Dome Road and eliminate the loop around the Observatory Summit and antennas, and rejoin the "old" course near the old half-marathon point. Returning runners will retrace their steps along the same route.
This change cuts about 400m off the course (200m each way), so it is necessary to move the Turnaround down the hill somewhat from its current location. Stan Justice has put in many, many hours of work measuring and remeasuring the course to ensure the accuracy of our mile markers and the overall distance, so you can rest assured that the Turnaround will be located in the correct spot.
One year ago we hoped and expected that this year we would have a firm, green athletic field on which to start and finish the Equinox events. Unfortunately, as those of you from Fairbanks know, there was further excavation for the utilidor project this summer, which meant that the field was in about the same shape this year as last. We can only hope that by next year . . .
Be that as it may, the new athletic field has been seeded and is very vulnerable to damage, so it is not possible to start the Equinox by running across the newly-seeded field. Having 700+ people thunder across that field en masse would create so much damage that the repair/remediation process would have to begin all over again in the spring. And no one wants that.
So, the race will start on the road to the south of the athletic field, run west toward the roundabout, turn right, go up the hill west of the treeline, and rejoin the "normal" route about 2/3 of the way up the hill.
The finish - if it's dry and firm will follow pretty much the same route down the hill below Butrovich (although construction there has complicated things) and onto the athletic field. However, at that point, the route will hug the bottom of the ski hill, pass just south of the climbing wall, and finish partway down the length of the SRC. After a deceleration zone, the chute will take runners to the right and onto the paved "pond hockey" rink where post race services and refreshment will be provided.
Dry Weather Finish
If it's wet . . .
If the weather stays wet and the Butrovich hillside and athletic field remain in a mushy state, we will be forced to relocate the finish and the approach. We will run down the road below Butrovich (as was the case for many years until last year) and then at the roundabout get onto the sidewalk, then follow the sidewalk to the Patty Center parking lot, then turn left and finish on the grass to the SE of the "pond hockey" rink area.
Wet Weather Finish
We will make a decision on whether to use the wet or dry-weather finish route not later than Thursday morning, and will make it before that if it's clear that one or the other will work best for the runners and for the event.
Because of the last-minute nature of these changes, we will likely need to adjust the location of the start to accommodate an increase or decrease in distance at the finish of the race. Therefore, the first mile of the event, as well as the final 385 yards, may be a little on the long side or a little on the short side. Once you get past the one-mile sign, the distances will be right on up to the Ullrhavn Summit of Ester Dome, and, on the return, from that point to the finish. We will let you know what, if any, discrepancies there may be on the marathon Out-and-Back.
We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause in the pacing of your event.
We are already at work exploring long-term solutions to the sorts of issues that have cropped up this year. It is our objective to have an Equinox course that is as close to permanent as possible, and which is not subject to change from year-to-year, especially change on short notice. Any solution we come up with will not only be good for the Equinox events, but we also want to ensure that it offers a benefit to all Fairbanks runners who like to run and train on Ester Dome throughout the year.