This winter has been frigid, dark, and snowy; there is no disputing that. Between that and the repercussions of the ever-evolving COVID-19 pandemic, mental health issues are on the rise with each new call for social distancing and mask mandates.
Despite the icy temperatures that Alaskans continue to see in March, they can take comfort that every day that passes is one day closer to Breakup—the time in April and May when the daylight lasts late into the night and nights stay above freezing, so named because it's when the ice in rivers and lakes start to “break up.” Soon, the snow boots can be replaced by sandals, snow shovels by fishing poles, and snow blowers by camping gear.
As the days become longer and the darkness shorter, Alaskans begin to plan their summers. If this is your first summer in Alaska, you may be wondering what exactly there is to do in the land of the midnight sun. Even if you're a long-time Alaskan, but are unsure what you want to do, consider stepping outside your comfort zone and trying something new or going somewhere you have never been.
Camping, fishing, hiking, canoeing, and more: Alaska's got it all. Take advantage of the long daylight hours by finding an outdoor activity for you and your friends or family. The health benefits of getting active outdoors are numerous and invaluable. So, whether you're a land or sea dweller, whether you want to venture far and wide or stay close to home, whether you prefer intense activity or a leisurely pace, there's something for you.
Entering a race is a great way to see more of the state and get involved with nature. There are many events to check out around the state. Below are some of the more popular ones, but there are plenty out there, whatever your skill level or location. If you travel for a race, take a few extra days to see the sights around wherever you end up.
Gold Nugget Triathlon (Anchorage, Alaska): The Gold Nugget Triathlon (GNT) in Anchorage on May 15th is one of the longest-running women-only triathlons in the nation. There are roughly 1600 hundred racing slots. Don't let the numbers fool you; those sixteen hundred slots usually are gone within the first ten minutes the night the registration opens. For 2022, pre-registration opens on March 1st at 8 p.m. If you are one of the lucky ones that get in, congrats! Time to start training. If you get placed on the waitlist, do not give up hope—you may still receive a slot.
The GNT is offering a virtual and in-person race this year. If racing is not for you, consider volunteering. Volunteering is a great way to check out a race before signing up for one. Check the GNT website for signup opportunities, dates, and times.
Eagle River Triathlon (Chugach, Alaska): The Eagle River Triathlon is known as a fun yet challenging race. This event also offers a virtual option and volunteer opportunities. Registration for this event is open now, and race day is June 6th.
If swimming and biking are not in your comfort zone, never fear; there are plenty of events that just involve running. Running events tend to start early than triathlons.
Bike For Women ( Chugach Alaska): If running and swimming aren't your jam then the bike for women is what you've been waiting for. A short nine-mile out and bike course where bikers leave every ten seconds. If you have decided to do the Eagle River tri you'll be glad to know that the BIke for Women course is the first half of the ER tri.
RunFest (Anchorage, Alaska): If you've ever wanted an entire weekend of multiple running events, RunFest is for you. Held in downtown Anchorage on August 20th and 21st, this event offers everything from a one-mile race, to 5k, to half marathon and marathon. If volunteering is more your style, this weekend offers plenty of opportunities, from bib pick-up to cheering on racers on the course and handing finishers their medals and snacks at the finish line.
Triathlons and running events are just two of the many things that you can start planning for in March. There's so much more to experience, and there's something for everyone. If you plan on road tripping or flying to explore the great state of Alaska, start looking at lodges and hotels before the summer rates kick in.
Some places might have early bird specials for booking for the start of the summer tourist season. March is a great time to start collecting your outdoor gear both new and used. Places like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace are great places to look for gently used outdoor gear. Buying used gear is a great way to find out what works for you without spending a lot of money. You can always upgrade later. In the meantime, get up, get out, and get ready to move this summer!
The long, cold, dark days of the Alaskan winter often trigger depression, anxiety, and cabin fever. Planning for summer is a great idea if you have the energy, interest, and motivation to do so. Sometimes it is hard to imagine the warmth of summer days when the weather service has called for several inches of snow for the next five days. If the long winter months have you struggling with your mental health, it's time to seek help. SokyaHealth's trained staff understand how brutal Alaskan winters can be and can sympathize with issues brought on from isolation and being unable to do activities outside of your four walls. Our staff is here to offer you the caring, supportive services that will help you find your place in the sun once again. If you need support to get through the rest of winter, or dark days in your mind, call SokyaHealth today at (866) 657-6592.