Midnight Sun Run will be held virtually again this year

Published: Apr. 9, 2021 at 7:19 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - One of Fairbanks’ favorite summer events will have to wait another year for the full experience. Midnight Sun Run organizers say they will not be hosting an in-person event this year, as the logistical concerns surrounding venue space and public health were not able to be resolved.

“It was a super tough decision by the board,” said Midnight Sun Run Race Director Wendy Cloyd. “[University of Alaska Fairbanks] is usually where we hold the starting line and Pioneer Park is where we hold finish line. Neither one of those venues is allowing mass gatherings.”

Alternative routes for the anticipated 10-kilometer race were explored, but were not able to be settled. The annual race that begins at 10 p.m. the Saturday closest to the summer solstice featured nearly 3,800 participants from all parts of the globe in 2019, the last time Midnight Sun Run held an in-person event.

“With all of the unknowns, we decided it would just be safest to continue with the virtual option.”

The 39th annual (virtual) Midnight Sun Run will take place from June 18-21 with a 10k course of the participants’ choosing. The runners and walkers will upload their time to the Athlinks race platform, but cannot be officially certified, so there will be no prizes for the top finishers, just recognition from the organization.

No festivities at UAF prior to the race, no lining up in the Riverview neighborhood to cheer on the participants and no celebration at Pioneer Park after the race...so why hold any version of this race?

“Fairbanks looks forward to solstice activities and we are one of the most popular solstice activities in the city and in the state. We are an iconic race, we are a bucket list race and we didn’t want to deprive people of the opportunity of that fun,” Cloyd added. “We also know that people are still a little bit nervous and they want to be able to participate in a activity, but they don’t necessarily want to have the mass gathering, so the virtual option allows them to participate in a safe way and in a fun way.

During last year’s virtual event, the Midnight Sun Run saw participants from all 50 states and 11 different countries, according to race organizers. Most importantly, the race benefits a local non-profit to help those in need.

“This is Fairbanks Resource Agency’s (FRA) largest fundraiser, so that is another reason for us going ahead with the virtual option to allow us the opportunity to have people run to help us keep running. That is what we keep telling everybody; you running helps us keep running.” Learn more about FRA here.

The Midnight Sun Run is still holding many of the traditions surrounding the event, such as t-shirts, bibs, costume and coloring contests and an Alaska Airlines ticket giveaway.

Couch to 10k

The Couch to 10k is a training program that begins in April and leads up to the Midnight Sun Run. The program is being offered this year both in-person and virtually and will begin April 19. Registration for Couch to 10k can be found here.

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