9th Annual Hatcher Pass Marathon and Relay : 2019



Thanks for a great 2019 event!

+ Event Details


Thanks for a great 2019 event!

2019 is done.  We are updating several details and will let everyone know when registration is open for 2020!


We need your help!

This event already has several dedicated volunteers and we would LOVE to continue to count on their support!  That being said, additional volunteers are always needed... we have a list of tasks and needs.  

Most specifically, we really REALLY REEEAAALLLYY want a few more manned aid stations out there.  As a previous runner, I was terrified that curious tourists would take off with the precious Gatorade before I got to it.  We don't want that to happen to anyone!

All volunteers will get a race shirt and another goodie or two.  We can always use the help of any teams/youth groups/do-gooders out there with a cause (we aren't opposed to a charitable contribution to guarantee happy runners!)

If you have been a volunteer in the past or are thinking about getting some race karma headed your way, click on the support or contact us tabs above and shoot us a message.

Lets make this and EVEN MORE amazing event with community support!!!

Basic Information


When:  Saturday, July 6, 2019 at 9 a.m. (early start at 7 a.m.)

What and where: The 9th Annual Hatcher Pass Marathon and Relay : 2019 is a low-key, uphill marathon in beautiful Willow, Alaska.  The route follows Willow Fishhook Road (aka Hatcher Pass Rd) all the way over the summit, and finishes at the Independence Mine State Historical Park "Bowl" parking area.   

Cost:   will be announced when registration opens.  No need to fear sticker shock though.

Course Description

The course is very mountainous, and goes relentlessly uphill for 25 miles; the last mile includes a cramp-inducing downhill, and then one last uphill grunt to the finish line. Elevation gain is close to 5,000 feet.  Approximately 22 miles of it is on gravel road, the rest on pavement (at the beginning of the course).  The course is slightly longer than 26.2 - it is not a certified marathon course.

Approximate mileage per relay leg: 
First leg:  9 miles 

Second Leg: 8 miles

Third Leg:  9.2 miles (most strenuous section).

Aid stations will be located near the following mile markers: 4.5, 9 (relay exchange), 13, 17 (relay exchange), 20, and 23 with additional aid stations if there are more volunteers.

Driving Directions

ROAD CONSTRUCTION.  Make sure to check for any road construction at  http://alaskanavigator.org/

​​​​Driving Directions to Start
The start line is generally at the downed Willow Creek bridge, near the intersection of Willow Fishhook Rd and Shirley Towne Drive.  From Anchorage, take the Glenn Highway (AK-1) north to the George Parks Highway (AK-3) toward Willow.  At approx. mile 71.8 of the Parks Highway, take a RIGHT onto Willow Fishhook Rd (aka Hatcher Pass Rd).  Go 5.5 miles on Willow Fishhook Rd (approx. mile marker 43.25 of Willow Fishhook Rd) and then take a LEFT onto Shirley Towne Drive; go about 0.2 miles and you will have arrived.

*See Google maps here

*There will be signage at the turnoff from Parks Highway onto Willow Fishhook Rd, and at the Shirley Towne Drive turnoff.

*Parking is limited at the start, so please carpool if at all possible. Cars may be left at the start to retrieve when you finish.  If you don't have a ride back to your car from the finish, let us know so we can arrange a ride for you.

Having a support friend or family member to drive your car to the finish, and you following the race, would be ideal.

*There will be two port-o-potties at the start line which should be stocked with paper and hand sanitizer, but one can never be too prepared. We are attempting to have 2 additional stops placed on course near mile 10 and 17, but no guarantees.

RACE DAY SCHEDULE (July 6, 2019)
Bib Pickup and Day-of-race sign-up: 6 a.m. - 8:30 a.m.
Race day sign-up & bib pickup starts at 6 a.m.
Please bring cash only for day-of-race sign-up ($100 for marathon; $200 for relay team).  Your best bet is to pre-register!

Drop Bags and post-race food... 
Bring a *small drop bag for the finish line (it's usually windy and chilly at the top) and we will make sure it's waiting for you when you finish.  (*We used to say "reasonably sized," but amended to clarify that a huge backpack or big duffel bag is too much--we need to fit everyone's drop bags into an already packed car.

If you want to bring any food to share after the race, you can drop this off at the start as well.

There will be announcements before each start.

Early Start: 7:00 a.m.
If you don't think you will be able to complete the race in 6 hours, we encourage you to take the early start.  If you are exceptionally fast and think it will take you less than 4 hours, do NOT take the early start. We are running the early start option to give extra course time to those who need it, not to make your day end earlier!  Relay teams:  changing the rule a little from previously published.  You can take the early start BUT if you anticipate your team will finish in less than 4 hours...don't.  We might not be at the end to time you.  We WILL NOT guarantee timing to anyone (individual or relay) finishing before 11 am who take the early start... plan accordingly.  Ideally any relay team that is going to take over 6 hours will take the early start.  All other teams, please arrive ready to go at the 9 am start.  No need to message or email us in advance.  When you check-in, just let us know you will be doing the early start and we will mark you down as such. If you anticipate walking much of the course please arrive ready to start at 7 AM.

Start time: 9 a.m.
Someone will yell, "go" at 9 a.m....ish.   (Don't lollygag, but we'll try not to leave anyone hanging in the line for the honey bucket.)

Finish line:  There will be food + potluck at the finish (you're not required to bring any food for the finish line, but feel free to bring your favorite dish or a snack to share).  PLEASE NOTE: There is a $5 parking fee at the finish line if you do not have an Alaska State Parks permit sticker.

Awards:  Awards will be around 3-3:30 p.m.  Awards for top-3 men, top-3 women, and top-3 relay teams.  Immediately following the top-3 awards, there will also be prize drawings from our sponsors--you must be present to win!

Getting back to your car:  There are always plenty of runners and volunteers willing to give someone a ride back down the mountain.  If you need a ride, let us know in advance, or let us know when you finish the race.

Additional Information


We are always in need of volunteers, and couldn't do it without you!  If you would like to host an aid station or help with the finish line, please use the Contact Us form.


Please keep in mind that this race is organized by directors with full-time jobs and their own races to train for.  We promise to do our best to provide all runners with a great racing experience. All the while we will remember to have fun as we have been known for not taking ourselves too seriously. 

The race is available as a 2- or 3-person relay.  Since relay teams sign up as a group, and not individually, this option gives you more flexibility in case you cannot find a third team member, or if one person has to drop out before the race. We will NOT have a separate 2-person relay team division, however.  We ask that you exchange at the designated relay exchange zones, but we also won't be policing this.  Our biggest goal is that runners safely make it to the finish line and we are aware that may mean race day changes.

Approximate mileage per relay leg: 
First leg:  9 miles 

Second Leg: 8 miles

Third Leg:  9.2 miles

The third leg is the most strenuous. 

Relay exchanges will be obvious. The first relay exchange has limited parking.  Look to aid station volunteers to direct parking.  Please drop off your exchange runner and move farther down the road to avoid congestion. Always keep sight of racers along the course. Waiting relay runners should be positioned at the exchange site, slap hands and then start their leg.


Aid stations will be located at the following mile markers: 4.5, 9 (relay exchange), 13, 17 (relay exchange), 20, and 23. Exact mileage may vary depending on other activities in progress (campers, etc.). The aid stations will have water, gatorade, fruit, and other food TBD. We require that all runners carry additional liquids and calories according to their needs. Volunteers will close up the aid stations as the final runners leave them.

*Parking is available but limited at all locations; i.e. start, exchange zones & finish. Carpooling is highly encouraged.

*If you do not have an Alaska State Parks parking sticker, there is a $5 fee to park at the finish line at the Independence Mine State Historical Park "bowl" parking area.

*The Department of Transportation does not allow parking or spectating within 30 feet of the roadway:  If you are crewing for a runner or driving for a relay team, please keep this in mind.

*If you are crewing for a runner or driving for a relay team, please get a "Caution-Runners on Road" sign to put in your rear view window (the signs will be at the check-in table on race morning). Please use caution when pulling off of and back onto the roadway; be aware of other vehicles traveling at high speeds, off road-vehicles, and other runners.  

Timing will be provided by:  Potentially synchronized wristwatches; iphone clock; or sundial. There is the remote possibility of chip timing this year. We will not provide individual leg times for relay team members (although please feel free to do so on your own).  If you anticipate that this run may take you more than 6 hours we highly recommend that you take the 7 a.m. early start.  For reference:  It takes this race director roughly an hour longer than "usual" to complete the course on a good day.

If for any reason you decide to drop out of the race (or, you signed in, picked up your bib, but then get second thoughts on this jaunt and decide to spend your day elsewhere), please let an official (any of the people with stop watches and clipboards) know, and present your bib number for identification.  We do not wish having to go on a head hunt for missing runners at the end of a long day on the course.

Please be courteous to other runners, State Park employees, and tourists on the trail.  And, make sure to thank a volunteer!

And a note to read before you complete your registration:

Once you finalize your registration, we do NOT issue refunds.  We realize life happens and sometimes our best laid plans don't go as we expected.  Should something out of the ordinary happen, we will work with you to either register for next year or move you to an equivalent race.  Do not expect your money back.  We're willing to be flexible but please don't try to take advantage of our kindness!  We WILL respond to requests for reassignment, etc.  We WILL NOT respond to refund requests.  If something happens on our end and the race can't happen for whatever reason, we WILL be contacting you to get your registration cost back.  We are a very small company and every single penny is going back into these events, it's not laying around in our bank account...

Enough about that.

As much as we love our dogs, no dogs are allowed to run with you on the course.  

Do not litter! You may leave your trash at the aid stations, but don't expect volunteers to pick up after you along the race course.  There is a secret trash patrol squad who will not be afraid to publicly shame any offenders at the post-race awards.

You will be required to sign a race waiver when you sign up on ultrasignup.com

Potential hazards and inconveniences of the race include, but are not limited to:  Traffic (NO road closures during race), serious dust in dry weather, yucky muck in wet weather, brutal exposure to the elements due to high elevation, and/or falling flat on your face due to cramping in the last mile of the race.  

Traffic generally picks up around noon.  On the Willow side of the pass, expect 4-wheelers as well as off-road vehicles. Please be courteous. Many of these people are camping there overnight and may not be aware of the race.

Consider a cap, or visor, and sunscreen if it's nice out, and a beanie hat, gloves, and windbreaker if it's foul.

Wildlife encounters have been reported, so be aware that you'll be running through bear country.

In exchange for all this you'll get stunning scenery, a major runner's high, and a cool t-shirt!

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