Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Great Alaskan Running Cruise: Skagway Scavenger Hunt

After running the half marathon in Juneau as part of the Great Alaskan Running Cruise, Greg and I quickly showered and were off on our next adventure. For lunch, we had fish and chips at a little shack on the waterfront. We then proceeded to take a bus out to a park which offered spectacular views of the Mendenhall Glacier.

The Mendenhall Glacier
After having run over 13 miles at a solid clip, it felt good to keep the legs moving on a scenic walk down to Nugget Falls. At this point, my FitBit had logged over 30,000 steps for the day. As with the Hubbard Glacier, words can't do Nugget Falls and the Mendenhall Glacier justice, so here are some photos of the area.

Nugget Falls

Mendenhall Glacier
We walked back to the shuttle bus area, took the bus back to downtown Juneau and then had dinner and beers at a brewhouse on the waterfront. It was a great ending to a day filled with excitement and experiences that we will remember for a lifetime.

In terms of running, I had just completed my first "official" week of marathon training with 54.5 miles. The fact that I was able to run that half marathon workout so quickly without any kind of taper or rest beforehand was encouraging. I'm very excited to kick off a new training cycle!

The Skagway Amazing Race
The next morning, we arrived in Skagway for our next running event. The Skagway Amazing Race was described as a 4-mile navigational run through the town of Skagway. In reality, it was a one-hour photo scavenger hunt to find as many of the named landmarks as possible and take selfies at them.

At the pre-race briefing, we received a list of landmarks, valued at 1, 2, 3, or 5 points. There was one landmark that was worth 5 points, and it was the farthest away. The race had a 1-hour time limit, and even if you arrived just a few seconds late, you were disqualified. Greg and I decided to be ambitious and go for the 5-point landmark, and then hit the others on our way back.

The town of Skagway was very quaint and fun to run through. We ran down Main street, crossed a bridge, and then headed for a scenic viewpoint that was worth 5 points. As we got closer, we realized that the landmark was still a full mile away, and we had already run over 2 miles. This meant that we probably wouldn't get there and make it back in time unless we ran quickly, and at that-- we would miss all the other landmarks. So we had a decision to make, continue on and hit the viewpoint, or turn around and get as many of the lower-point landmarks as possible. We thought it would be more fun to go for the landmarks, so we did. When we turned around, we saw other runners going for the far-out landmark, and we think the decided to turn around too. The map wasn't drawn to scale, so we had no way of knowing it was as far as it actually was.

Eagles Hall, the mandatory landmark in the Skagway Amazing Race
We visited a graveyard, a school, a church, and some other landmarks in the short amount of time we had left. There was even one mandatory landmark, which was the last one we hit.

We realized that we were running short on time, and we would have to book it to get back before our one-hour limit. Greg picked up the pace and I followed. I really didn't want to be running faster than an 8:30 pace, but given the fear of being disqualified, I found myself running close to an 8:00 mile at the end. Finally we came upon a cruise ship just as the one-hour mark hit. And. . . it wasn't our cruise ship! Oops! We had gone the wrong way. So, we realized we were disqualified. A few other teams had followed us to this ship and we all admitted defeat and walked back to the actual ship. All in all, we ended up running just over six miles.

Trying to make it back in time!

After the Skagway Amazing Race

The White Pass Scenic Railway
After the run was over, we showered and got ready for our next excursion. We had originally debated between horseback riding and the scenic railway, but had settled on the scenic railway. We were so tired that we knew we had made the right decision with the more relaxing excursion. All we needed to do was board a train and view the scenery.

I was so tired that I actually napped for about 20 minutes on the way up! But we saw the same exact views on the way back down the mountain, so I didn't miss out on anything. This train took us up the White Pass trail, which is over 3,000 feet in elevation. We saw beautiful views of rivers, waterfalls, forests and mountains along the way. The tour guide gave us a complete history of the area. It's amazing how many people died in this area while searching for gold.

View of the train from the train

Greg and me on the White Pass Scenic Railway
The train ride took over three hours and when it was over, I was looking forward to boarding the cruise ship and relaxing. I would highly recommend this excursion to anyone visiting Skagway. The landscape is truly breathtaking and there is a lot of interesting history there.

So far, this running cruise has been absolutely incredible. The weather has been ideal for running (overcast and mid 50's) and the scenery is amazing. We've met runners from all over the world, each with their own story. And the cruise is only half over! More blog posts to come.


  1. This does sound amazing--I think Alaska would be with or without running! I'm looking forward to your next post...

  2. Awesome adventure you and Greg are having and that the day included a "fun-run" landmark scavenger hunt! Can it get any better? Enjoy!

  3. I love your pictures and it looks like you are having a really wonderful time! It stinks that you guys wound up running toward the wrong ship but I can see how that would happen because cruise ports often have multiple ships there. It's awesome that you got the miles in and it sounds like the cruise has done a good job of having runs that are like races as well as those that are more fun runs to balance it out.

  4. Oh I'm just so jealous. This sounds amazing. I was so anti-cruises before because I hate being "trapped" and unable to get out and do what I want, but this just changes my mind about it. Love how you met other runners as well :)