Midnight Sun Run goes virtual on solstice weekend, rather than postponing or canceling

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) The 38th annual Midnight Sun Run (MSR) will continue this year as a four-day virtual race, rather than postponing or canceling the event all together, as discussed previously.

(KTVF)

"The Midnight Sun Run on solstice is kind of the identity of the race," Race Director Wendy Cloyd said of having the event at a later date. "With so many things up in the air, and not knowing whether or not we'd even be able to have a group of people of that size be able to gather, we have decided the best thing to do would be to give an alternative so people still had something to look forward to this summer."

The bucket-list event that takes place the Saturday closest to the summer solstice attracted nearly 3,800 participants last year, which would be hard to replicate with social distancing and health mandates put into place.

Rather than congregate that many people on June 20 as scheduled, participants can complete their own 10-kilometer course from Friday, June 19, to Monday, June 22. They will then upload their times to the Athlinks race platform where it would be displayed like any other year. However, there will not be individual male or female winners for this year's event, as they would not be able to authenticate race times or lengths.

"The competition will be between friends, your personal best -- but there is no way for us to certify the race and verify the results." Cloyd added.

A community-wide event, the number of participants rivals that of spectators along the 6.2-mile course. The MSR committee is discouraging runners from using the typical course that begins at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, travels through residential neighborhoods and ends at Pioneer Park, as traffic control and safety officials will not be present.

"During a typical race year, we would have a traffic control plan in place including signage, road closures, support from the troopers, [and] from the police department. We'd have first aid kits staged along the route, and a lot of course support from volunteers. None of that will be there this year," Cloyd said. "Roads will be open to normal vehicle traffic and intersections will not have the assistance of troopers or the police. We are encouraging people to choose a safe route away from high traffic areas, and people will be expected to observe the current state mandates for social distancing."

The Midnight Sun Run committee is looking to keep many of the same traditions as in years past. They are encouraging those who wish to wear a costume to do so, and upload photos to midnightsunrun.net, where a winner will be selected to win a prize.

Many participants travel from all over the country and beyond for the event, but will not be able to do so this year. Cloyd said they have reached out to the out-of-state entries, and many are keeping their registration and will be taking on the 10K at their own time and place.

The Couch to 10K, a 10-week training program leading up to the race, still plans to have a version of the program in the coming weeks.

"We are going to push it back to May 13 in order to figure out how we can still observe social distancing with groups of 20 or less, and have the route be safe," Cloyd said. "But we are going to do it, and that will give us six weeks before the Midnight Sun Run to complete the Couch to 10k program."

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