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  • Writer's pictureJessica Stough

Alaska - Girdwood and Anchorage - Day Seven

Day Seven

Our last day in Alaska had a pre-planned event that I had been patiently waiting for and very excited about. When we booked our flight to Alaska, Zac had said, “You should see if there are any races going on while we are there.”

I’ve got to give him props because I had not even thought of that, and do not believe that I would have without his extra push. However, after he mentioned it, I did a quick search online and found just one race - the Girdwood Marathon and Half Marathon.

It didn’t take much thinking before I was signed up for the Half Marathon. After I had already paid for the event, I decided it would probably be a good idea to check the elevation of Girdwood. It was similar to what we are used to back home, so I figured I was in the clear. It wasn’t until we were in Alaska and the race was less than 24 hours away that I realized it was a trail race. At that point, though, I figured I might as well test out my trail running legs in one of the coolest places on earth.

I was a bit worried when the temperatures were below freezing and the wind chill was even colder on race morning - since Zac and I weren’t anywhere close to completely comfortable with the temperatures yet. I was also a bit nervous about getting lost (since it was considered mostly self-supported), and the fact that I had never run a trail race before. Even so, I decided to layer up and just go for it.

I met some really cool people on the trail and had a blast exploring the area. I even found out that the race director actually moved to that area from none other than Des Moines, Iowa. She seemed pretty jazzed to have an Iowan taking part in the race.

They were handing out random prizes from their sponsors, and I snagged myself a Girdwood Brewery hat - probably because I was the Iowan, so I could sport some local gear when I got back home. I definitely don’t know what I would have done if I would’ve won one of the saws as a random prize (I imagine the TSA would not approve).


After the race, we fueled up with lunch and headed to Anchorage for some non-hiking touristy fun to end our trip. We started at the Alaska Museum of Science and Nature, a hands-on museum that has multiple exhibits that can be picked up or touched. Thanks to them, I finally saw a puffin. I was also able to feel what a seal’s fur feels like (I had no idea they were so soft)!

The two bears are current-day grizzlies and the bear skeleton is an extinct cave bear, which could stand up to twelve feet tall on their hind legs!

After the museum, we headed to downtown Anchorage to explore some local shops and find souvenirs. Call us stereotypical tourists, but we really like to snag ourselves some hats or shirts from places we visit. Thanks to the Girdwood Half Marathon, I actually got myself a few new hats.

We also enjoy finding local snacks or foods. Birch is found in a lot of items in Alaska instead of maple. They have birch syrup - which I was told is hard to find out of season - and also have birch root beer, birch jam, and even chocolates made with birch syrup. Since we couldn’t find any birch syrup, we landed on the chocolates.


Finally, we headed back to our condo for the evening and relaxed while watching some TV. We went to bed pretty early since our alarms were set for 3:00 AM the next morning to catch the early flight back home. Now, sitting in the airport waiting for the final trek back to Des Moines, I’m already dreaming of our next vacation.

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