As of 6 p.m. Friday over 900 participants from all 50 states and nine countries had registered for the 2020 virtual Midnight Sun Run and 149 of those had already completed their 10-kilometer routes.
The 10k race is traditionally one of the highlights of the Golden Heart City’s annual Midnight Sun Festival and attracts more than 3,000 participants ranging from serious runners to walkers competing in the event’s costume contest.
The typical course starts in front of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Patty Center at 10 p.m., runs through neighborhoods where residents come out and cheer on the participants and finishes at the Square Dance Hall inside Pioneer Park.
This year, however, in order to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, racers are being asked to choose their own 10K route, allowing people to participate from all over the world. Routes must be completed before the end of the day Monday.
Race director Wendy Cloyd created a portal online so participants could upload photos from their run.
“I came in this morning and there were just already tons of people who had sent me photos from Maine, from France and Oregon and all across the United States,” Cloyd said.
“It’s fun to see what everybody is doing and all the beautiful places people are running. Some places it’s sunny, unlike today where it’s been so rainy. It’s nice to see some people are having good weather.”
While Fairbanks residents rallied to keep the summer solstice tradition alive and currently encompass about 500 of the race registrants, the virtual format also succeeded in bringing together more people from across the world.
For the first time in race history all 50 states are represented. Runners and walkers have also signed up in Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, Ireland, Kuwait, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
The first participant to upload a photo Friday was 9-year-old Carter Jackson from Portland, Tennessee. Carter was posing next to a large home made sign about twice his own size, which read, “Go Carter, 10K Alaska, You did it!”
The young runner is attempting to complete a virtual race in every state. Alaska, Alabama and Tennessee are now all crossed off the list.
As of 6 p.m. Friday, the fastest time for the men belonged to Orrin Burton of Anchorage. Burton averaged a 6 minute, 21 second pace per mile to complete his route in 39:28.
Patricia Berkeland of Fairbanks logged the fastest women’s time, averaging 8:19 per mile for a 51:37 total time.
Interested walkers and runners can still register online at midnightsunrun.net. Registration will remain open until 9 p.m. Monday.
Contact News-Miner sports writer Laura Stickells at 459-7530. Follow her on Twitter at @FDNMsports.