Willow Winter Solstice Marathon Races

Come join us on the Winter Solstice weekend for a
 Full Marathon distance or Half marathon
foot race on December 22, 2012.
RouteAn out-and-back course taking you from the Willow Community Center, winding through Willow Area lakes and out to Red Shirt Lake in Nancy Lake Recreation Area. The course is almost entirely on winter trails.
Distance: 26.2 mile Marathon or 13.1 mile half-marathon.
Start time: 9AM
Start/Finish location: Willow Community Center, Parks Hwy, mile 70. The community center is reserved for this event. Friends and family will be able to hang out and await your return.
Cost: Marathon $60, Half-marathon$40 on-line, race day sign-up Marathon $70, half-marathon $50.
On-line sign-up: go to http://ultrasignup.com/register.aspx?eid=3562 , search for Willow Winter Solstice Marathon.
Long sleeve tech T-shirts to all participants, finisher prizes
Course description:
Both groups will start at 9AM together, at Willow Community center. Taking the trail across Willow Lake, you will then come up on the only 1/4 mile of pavement, crossing over to Elmsweiler Swamp, heading south to Long Lake. You will run the length of Long Lake, cross over to Crystal Lake and the to Vera Lake. Vera Lake will take you to the Willow Swamp where the Half-marathoners will turn around and head back to the Comminuty Center for the finish. The Marathoners will turn south, run the east side of the Big Swamp to the entrance to Nancy Lake State Rec Area (NLSRA) and West Rolly Lake. You will wind though the trees to North Rolly, then hop up onto the Park road (not-plowed) and head west onto South Rolly Lake and then sough again to Red Shirt Lake. Once you come onto Red Shirt Lake, you will head straight on the main lake trail to Cabin #3 to check in and get some hot drinks/food and turn around. The course will be marked in both directions.
Both courses are out-and-backs. It will be dark for a significant portion  of the race and possibly very cold. It will be easier to keep track of everyone and get runners help if needed. Once runners cross the road between Crystal Lake and Vera Lake, there will be no more possible road access. There are 2-3 places accessible by car where friends and family can cheer you on during the race. Once off Crystal Lake, though, they can only be reached by ski, snowmachine or dogteam. 
Go here to see the race trails: http://waco-ak.org/uploads/Trails/Plan2006/West_Gateway_Trails.pdf
Please be aware that the trails you will be running on are multi-use. There is a potential for trapping on a significant portion of the trail system. Expect to see both snowmachines and dog mushers.  They tend to be quite friendly and cautious around Willow, but sometimes they are moving fairly fast. Please give them the right of way. The trails are fairly wide until you reach NLSRA where they become narrower but also have less traffic. Assume that motorized vehicles can not see you. Headphones are allowed but discouraged as they limit your reaction time.
Aid Stations: 
Willow Swamp: Turn around for 1/2 marathoners and first aid station for marathoners. There will be water provided here, cold and possibly hot as well. Marathoners will check in here out-bound and in-bound.  Mandatory check-in
Red Shirt Lake Cabin #3: Turn around for marathoners. There will be water, cold and hot, sports drinks and some snacks. Mandatory check-in
Finish: There will be hot refreshments and soup at the finish for racers.
Race rules (of course there have to be some rules!)
1. You must check in/sign up by 8:30AM race morning. Race meeting starts at 8:35AM. If you do not pick up your bib or sign up by 8:30AM, you will have to wait until after the meeting. This may or may not be before 9AM.
2. Snowshoes and spiked shoes are allowed. You may need them!
3. Please do not litter on the trails. If you see obvious race-related trash (snowmachiners don't eat the new peanut butter GUs around here) please pick it up.
4. Half-marathoners- you must check in with a race official at the Willow swamp aid station. Marathoners- you must check in three times- out-bound Willow Swamp, Red Shirt Lake Cabin and in-bound Willow Swamp. If you do not check in with the race official, we will consider you not to have reached them. This is for your own safety.
5. Mandatoy gear: headlight. Recommended gear: insulated water system, spare undershirt, handwarmers, reflective gear, food.
6. Time cutoff: Time cutoff for both races will be approximately 9 hours. This is flexible since this is the first year for the race. If you don't think you can finish the marathon (in possibly very cold temperatures on snowy trails) in around 9 hours, please consider signing up for the half-marathon. This time cutoff for the marathon has you keeping up a pace of 3mi/hr.
 *****We want to encourage people to come to Willow and run in the dead of winter! BUT! Please be aware that it may be cold and dark with very little direct sunlight. Please be prepared for a -30 to -40 below start and finish. It easily can get that cold here. Dead of winter is fun. Dead you, not so much. Check out our local weather and trail reports page for frequent updates.
Accomodations: One of the reasons we love living in Willow so much is the somewhat isolated nature of the location. Unfortunately, this is not the best for out-of-towners needing a place to stay in the winter. As we find possible places, we will post them below:
-Winter Park Cabins. 907-495-5884 winterparkcabins@pobox.mtaonline.net