After a year of virtual races, the capital city’s biggest marathon will be an in-person event once again.
The 2021 Juneau Marathon and Half-Marathon will take place live and in-person, said race director David Epstein.
“I decided tentatively after discussing it with our board, that it would make sense to go back to regular events here” Epstein said in a phone interview. “We’re holding a one-day event, a live event, just like the good old days, on July 31. One special event about the half marathon is that the half marathon is a state championship event.”
The race, which had to go virtual like all the other scheduled races through the pandemic, will incorporate mitigation measures like asking people to maintain distances and wear masks until the race begins. There’s also some changes in how water stations will work.
“One thing that might be different is that at the aid stations we might go with bottled water,” Epstein said. “We’ll ask them to kindly place them in the trash cans by the aid stations.”
The course is the same as years past.
“It starts at Savikko Park and the marathon goes out past False Outer Point and turns around,” Epstein said. “It’s a certified course, it’s been measured.”
The certification, obtained from U.S. Track and Field, means that those who qualify will be eligible to run in the Boston Marathon. The times vary based on age and gender; a man aged 18-34 would need to run a 3-hour marathon, whereas a 70-74 year old man would need to run theirs in 4 hours and 20 minutes.
Other events will begin occurring in-person as well, Epstein said, though not all at once.
“Some races are still being held on a virtual basis, like the recently completed Seacoast Relay,” Epstein said. “We’re executing our full calendar of events this year. Seacoast was a one day virtual event. I’m not sure about events going forward. I would expect that some of them would be live. It’s up to the race directors.”
Epstein said he recently attended a conference by the Road Runners Club of America, discussing best practices for holding races in-person once more. .
“Transitioning back to live events was a major topic,” Epstein said. “They talked about the precautions they took: social distancing, bottled water at aid stations, how they handled the masking.”
Virtual races kept the sport alive in Juneau over the pandemic, with regular runners soldiering on and some new runners joining races as Juneau residents sought something to break the weirdness of the time. As the summer stretches on, races will happen on about a weekly basis until approximately September, Epstein said.
“I think the community was pleased we didn’t just dry up and blow away,” Epstein said. “Out of all the recreation activities in Juneau, running has the most events in the year. Not all of them are conducted by the Juneau Trail and Road Runners.”
Ready to run?
What: 2021 Juneau Marathon and Half-Marathon
When: 7 a.m., July 31
Where: Savikko Park
Other races can be found at http://www.southeastroadrunners.org/