Dusk to Dawn, 2024


June 20, 2024


June 23, 2024

Lights on over the Potato Field

Lights on over the Potato Field

Andrea and I spent last night (technically this morning) out on the UAF North Campus trails participating in the tenth annual Dusk to Dawn, which is a race where you see how far you can travel on foot during the shortest night of the year in Fairbanks: two hours and eleven minutes. The sun set at 12:47 AM and rose again at 2:58 AM, but because the sun is just below the horizon for those two-plus hours, there’s plenty of light to see the trail. That didn’t stop the lights from coming on over some of the winter ski trails we were walking on, but they weren’t necessary.

Most folks were running, but we took a leisurely walk counter clockwise on the Skarland trails from the starting point at the ski hut, chatting with Scott and enjoying the cool breeze that kept the mosquitoes away for the most part. The dogwood, Labrador tea, cottongrass, roses, and bluebells were all blooming, and the forest was green with life in a way that’s hard to imagine when you’re on these same trails in winter. All the bird sounds, especially Swainson’s Thrushes and Juncos, calling and singing through the night are a reminder of how busy the summer is in a place like Fairbanks, not just for humans, but for everyone making a living in the boreal forest.

My legs are still recovering from the Alaska Endurance Trail Run, so after we passed Ned’s house we took a shortcut down Beaver Slide so we’d be sure to make it back before the sun rose. Most of the trails were nice and dry, but Beaver Slide is reliably wet and it was no exception this year. We got back to the ski hut with almost a half an hour to spare, so we did a quick loop around West Ridge on the sidewalk and roads. Andrea and I spent a lot of time in the oldest of those buildings when we were graduate students in the 90s and I always feel some nostalgia for those times when walking past Irving, O’Neill, and Arctic Health.

My total mileage was 5.5 miles, which is a pretty modest amount for two hours and eleven minutes, but the goal was to enjoy the shortest night of the year outside. In six months, the sister event, Dawn to Dusk, will be held in order to enjoy the shortest day of the year, or better, celebrate that the days will start getting longer from that point on. For us, today, it’s all downhill to winter!

Final results for all participants can be found on Running Club North’s Results page, or by using my Fairbanks Race Database.