MMG Random Header Image

Anchorage Marathons and Running Events

A pair of marathons, fun runs and youth events, triathlons, mountain races and more – Anchorage is a natural fit if you like to lace ‘em up and take off.

Service Blocks
Print Button
Share This Button
Article Blocks
The annual Mayor's Marathon is held during summer solstice activities in Anchorage.
The annual Mayor's Marathon is held during summer solstice activities in Anchorage. ©Visit Anchorage/Roy Neese

With low humidity and summer temperatures that typically top out in the mid-70s, Anchorage is an excellent choice for avid runners who want to incorporate a race into their visit. 

Anchorage is at sea level, requiring no adjustment to a higher, heart-pumping elevation. There is no hustling through traffic or breathing in car exhaust as most races take place on Anchorage’s award-winning trail system. Along the paved trails, runners enjoy wooded vistas that open up to expanses of the steely gray waters of Cook Inlet or the rugged peaks of the Chugach Mountain Range.

Anchorage Mayor's Marathon and Half Marathon

The summer running season hits full stride with the annual Midnight Sun Marathon, Alaska Half-Marathon and Marathon Relay. Held the Saturday closest to the summer solstice, the races take full advantage of the more than 20 hours of functional daylight Anchorage receives during summer.

Since 1974, the event has grown substantially, hosting hundreds of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Foundation’s “Team in Training” runners from throughout the country. The marathon course starts in the shadows of the Chugach Range in east Anchorage, winds through the forest and then down the leafed canopy of the Chester Creek Trail to the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail before finishing just south of downtown on the Delaney Park Strip. The relay features four-member teams running 6.5-mile legs. The half-marathon course is a loop out along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail and back to Delaney Park Strip. Registration is available until the day before the race during a two-day race expo. The big day of Mayor’s Marathon also features a 5K run and Buddy Half Marathon both starting from the marathon/half-marathon finish area at the Delaney Park Strip.

Big Wild Life™ Runs

The Big Wild Life™ Runs offer races for everyone: 49K Ultra, the Moose’s Tooth Marathon, the Bear Tooth Marathon Relay, Marathon Walk, the Skinny Raven Half Marathon, and the Snow City Cafe 5K along with the Children's Hospital at Providence Kids’ 2K Fun Run. Held on a Sunday in August, this run is perfect for those training for a fall marathon.
This is truly a whole weekend of running. The newest race added to the lineup, the 49K Ultra, begins in the heart of downtown Anchorage and runs out the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail and halfway up 'Kincaid Hill' before returning to finish in downtown. Only 100 spots are available for this 49K in the 49th state so grab a spot early. Want to warm up before the race on Sunday? The Back 2 Back Challenge lets runners who register for any race on Sunday have the opportunity to sign up for The Anchorage Mile for only $10. Why run only once? A pasta feed, runners clinics and movie night round out the festivities.

Mountain Races 

Seward’s annual Mount Marathon Race® is a singular summer event. According to legend, the race got its start as an argument in a bar over whether it was possible to make it to the top of the mountain and back down in one hour. On July 4 every year, runners grind up the peak of Mount Marathon, only to turn around and clamber down steep, loose scree and perilous trail marked by snow patches. The course is only 3 miles, but takes runners to the summit 3,000 feet above the starting line. Slots in the race are in high demand.

The Crow Pass Crossing is a regular draw for mountain and trail runners. The 24-mile course covers the distance between the Crow Pass trail head outside Girdwood and the Eagle River Nature Center. Participants traverse steep terrain climbing to Crow Pass, run past the snout of massive Raven Glacier and must ford 400 yards of the chilly Eagle River, all the while keeping an eye out for bears. Held annually in July, the race is limited to 150 entrants.

Unique Running Events

The most popular fall event in the city is the Bonny Sosa Tuesday Night Race Series. During September and October cross-country runners in the Farm, Lightning and Munchkin leagues dash through races of various lengths held at venues throughout Anchorage.

There are plenty of opportunities to run through Anchorage even after the snow flies. The Frostbite Footrace makes a frosty 5K loop of downtown Anchorage during Fur Rendezvous, Anchorage’s big winter celebration. “Rondy” as it is known locally, also gives the daring a chance to sprint Pamplona-style down Fourth Avenue with thundering wildlife close behind in the Running of the Reindeer.

The 2015 Alaska Runner’s Calendar is the comprehensive list of running events in the state. It’s where you’ll find the Kilted Mile of Eagle River’s Scottish Highland Games (kilt required) and Anchorage’s Zombie race series (Zombie Half-Marathon, Undead Marathon and the Never Say Die Zombie 50K Ultramarathon).

For more annual sports and recreational events worth traveling to Anchorage for, search the Anchorage Calendar of Events.