Fairbanks’ Melanie Nussbaumer leads the 38th annual Midnight Sun Run Virtual 10K as of 5 p.m. Saturday, midway through the second day of the event, after completing her 10-kilometer course in 37 minutes and five seconds.
Nussbaumer was one of 323 participants to have completed their official MSR route by Saturday afternoon. Over 600 more are signed up to complete and post their 10k time by the end of the day Monday.
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 were asked to choose and complete their own 10k route sometime between Friday and Monday.
Nussbaumer’s route of choice consisted of 25 laps around the West Valley High School track. Although the town of Fairbanks hadn’t come out to support her like it does in a typical year, according to a Facebook post, her family filled the void and cheered her on the whole way. Her time was a new personal best, beating her old record by one minute and 42 seconds.
The fastest men’s time still belongs to Orrin Burton of Anchorage. Burton completed his route on Friday, averaging a 6:21 pace per mile for a total time of 39:28. He ranks second overall behind Nussbaumer.
Fourteen-year old Tommy Marstin of Midland, Georgia, was the fastest youth as of 5 p.m. Saturday. Marstin completed his 10k in 51:40.
Interested walkers and runners can still register online at midnightsunrun.net. Registration will remain open until 9 p.m. Monday.