The man who last year threatened to break the Mayor's Midnight Sun Marathon record will be back for Saturday's race, one of more than 4,000 runners signed up to race in the marathon and accompanying races.
David Kiplagat, a former UAA runner with All-America credentials, missed breaking the record in Alaska's biggest marathon by less than one minute a year ago. Kiplagat ran the second fastest time in race history, claiming victory in 2 hours, 23 minutes, 22 seconds -- 53 seconds off Michael Wisniewski's 2009 record of 2:22:29.
Last year brought a major change to the race course -- in order to avoid construction, it ended at the Delaney Park Strip instead of West High.
The finish line will remain at the park strip, but there will be a couple of minor changes. The start line in the Bartlett High parking lot will be pushed back and a section of the course near Mile 25 will be altered, changes needed because of the collapse of a bridge on the course earlier this week.
The loss of the bridge, which connected the Chester Creek Trail with the Coastal Trail, meant a loss of 509 feet from the established course.
Race director Michael Friess said the change near the end of the race is "is very, very easy and runnable."
Both Friess and Ric Wilson, the Alaska course certifier for USA Track and Field, expect the altered course to be certified in time for the Saturday race.
"The process requires two measurements, a new map and some paperwork by me," Wilson said in an email. "I expect that the race will be recertified in time."
Certification is important to runners who hope to post times that will qualify them for the Boston Marathon. Qualifying times for Boston must be recorded on USATF certified courses.
So far about 4,100 runners are entered, including Anna Dalton, the winner of last year's women's marathon who is signed up for the half-marathon.
"That's about the highest we've ever had at this point," Friess said. "I think people like finishing at the park strip better -- it's more central."
The park strip made for a festive finish last year, with a beer garden and music near the heart of downtown.
Friess said about 1,100 runners are signed up for the marathon and more than 2,100 are in the half-marathon. Others are entered in a four-mile race and a 1.6-mile Youth Cup.
Helping to drive participation, he said, are the marathon relay and the new half-marathon relay. "The relays have really caught on," Friess said.
Runners can register Thursday or Friday at an Expo at the Sheraton Hotel. The Expo runs from 3-8 p.m. Thursday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday.
People who are already entered need to go to the Sheraton on one of those days to pick up their bibs. There will be no registration or bib pickup on the day of the race.
Reach Beth Bragg at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4335.
Mayor's Midnight Sun Marathon
This week's schedule
3-8 p.m. -- Bib pickup and registration, Sheraton Hotel
10 a.m.-6 p.m. -- Bib pickup and registration, Sheraton Hotel
8 a.m. -- Start of marathon and marathon relay, Bartlett High
9 a.m. -- Start of half-marathon, Delaney Park Strip
9:15 a.m. -- Start of four-mile race, Delaney Park Strip
9:30 -- Start of 1.6-mile Youth Cup, Delaney Park Strip
(Note: There is no race-day bib pickup or registration).
By BETH BRAGG