Monday, July 23, 2012

Chums on a Barrow

While walking through the AC grocery store on Thursday, I was surprised to see a bulletin for the "Top of the World" marathon, half marathon, and 5k. Really? Many towns and cities have road and trail races throughout the year, but it was not something I expected in Barrow. I also didn't expect Alistair Rogers (BNL) to see the bulletin on the dinner table and suggest, "Hey, let's form a Team NGEE and run the 5k". This should not have been too surprising as we did something similar last year at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting in San Francisco. That time, we were cajoled into the race by Forrest Hoffman, one of our climate modelers working on the NGEE Arctic team. That run took us along streets that meandered in and out of the waterfront, so why not a brisk 5k through the native Inupiat village of Barrow and along the Arctic Ocean?

The race was conveniently scheduled to start at 11:00pm. Remember that Barrow enjoys 24 hours of daylight at this time of the year. I guess this was a good time, we could warm up and rest up after working a long day on the frozen tundra. Pasta was in order for dinner, compliments of leftovers from the previous a little ice cream. We figured the calories would be burned off later.

Alistair, Victoria Sloan, and I were ready by 10:15pm, just slightly after my usual bed time. We had registered earlier in the day, so it was just a matter of attaching our assigned race numbers and heading off the starting line at the Fred Ipalook Elementary School. To our surprise, there were over 60 people registered for the race. We even met graduate students from Craig Tweedie's lab and students from Robert Hollister's lab. Kim and Christina were there from David Lipson's lab and Karl Newyear, Chief Scientist for UMIAQ was there as well. It was a 'who's who' of energetic people from the summer scientific community in Barrow. 

A young woman sang the National Anthem, a prayer was offered, and the race director said "GO!". Alistair bolted to the front and managed to stay among the leaders throughout the race. We ran past the Airport, turned right at the Arctic Pizza restaurant where we  enjoyed a slight downhill, only to be followed by a slight uphill over by the Post Office. We crested the hill near the AC grocery store, made our way past the auto store, and then into the final stretch as we rounded the corner back to the elementary school. It was a literal 5k tour of Barrow in 25 minutes. Best I can tell, Alistair had a Top 10 finish followed by me and Victoria. It was a smashing success for Team NGEE and one that will surely spark more than one dinnertime story in the coming months!

All in all, it was a great way to end what otherwise was a pretty busy week of research. Oh, and while we chose to run the 5k, there were 4 runners in the marathon and 9 in the half marathon. I imagine that more than a few people will now check off a box that was previously on their bucket list. Now that we know of this event, and assuming they have it next summer, we talked about maybe running the half marathon in 2013...well, maybe we will decide that after the AGU 5k in December.