first_imgTomorrow sees the running of the 54th Equinox Marathon. This year marks several milestones. The course will see a return to more trails. And long time race director John Estle is retiring.The Equinox Marathon is an institution for Fairbanks. The event has seen some changes over its 54 years. And one person who has witnessed his share of those changes is retiring race director John Estle. He first learned of the event when we joined UAF as a coach in 1982. Within a few years he was director, a task he performed for five years. In 2011, he returned for another stint as co-director. This year he said the retirement will stick. He said in his time the race has grown in sophistication and complexity.“Many years ago you just went out there and you kinda held the cars up and there wasn’t that many cars and there weren’t that many people and there weren’t that many road crossings,” Estle said. “And now all of the traffic control has to go through DOT for approval and you’re going to have flaggers who know what they’re doing.”Estle has also timed the race and collated its statistics; he says even though the entry fee has grown from three dollars, the race remains a bargain. What also has changed, from time to time, is the course itself. Thursday evening at bib pick up, Andy Holland who has run the race 30 times, was pointing out to new racers some late changes to the Ester Dome trail and the inclusion of “The Zipper.”“You’ll go up this zig-zaggy hill,” Holland said. “I’ve been told by John that most of us will be walking it, but it’s only one way so you don’t have to dodge return traffic like we used to on the old section that this is replacing.”Holland is also the past president of race sponsor Running Club North and he says there is an effort to include as much trail as possible in the 26.2 miles. Also this year marks the arrival of a new book on the event by five-time Equinox winner Matias Saari. He says one constant for the race in all these years is unpredictable weather.“You know we’ve had a lot of mud and rain the last couple years,” Saari said. “I thought we might even get a blizzard last year, which I was looking forward to cause that hasn’t happened since 1995. But the forecast 6 days out looks pretty decent this year. But it is September in Fairbanks, so anything can happen.”Saari will join hundreds of other racers tomorrow at 8 AM by the UAF Patty Center vying for a sixth wn. And John Estle will be at the finish line marking his time.last_img read more