Strange Things Run in the Midnight Sun: Five Reasons to Brave Dawson City’s Midnight Dome Race

Dawson City Midnight Dome Run

Dawson City Midnight Dome Run

In the northwestern corner of the Yukon Territory sits historic and lively, Dawson City. Once the urban center for starry-eyed prospectors chasing the Klondike Gold Rush; Dawson City is now top tourist destination for travellers pursuing the wonders of the North. In the summer months visitors can take advantage of the town’s jam-packed schedule, which includes the legendary Dawson City Music Festival, historic Discovery Days and a thrice-nightly can-can cabaret at Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Gambling Hall. But there’s one event that can transform a fun loving tourist into a hard-core local: The Dawson City Midnight Dome Run.

This run from the Palace Grand Theatre in downtown Dawson, stretches 7.2 kilometres long by 2000 metres high to the tippy-top of the Midnight Dome. Now, it may seem crazy to travel to the far reaches of the Yukon for a running race but after running this annual-Mother myself in June of last year, I can think of five good reasons for runners to go North and make the trip up, up and up to conquer “The Dome”.

Start Line: The Palace Grand Theatre, Dawson City

Start Line: The Palace Grand Theatre, Dawson City

Runners Who Love Runners:

Believe it or not, Dawson, a city with a core population of about 1,300, houses a vibrant (and generous) running community. And thanks to this group of fun-runners and northern adventurers, the Midnight Dome Run is planned and executed each year entirely on volunteer power. The volunteer team goes the extra mile to set up water stations, recruit unsuspecting participants from the nearby Music Fest and make sure the 7.2 KM trail up the mountain is safe, clearly marked and free of bears.

1000 Metres and Climbing

1000 Metres and Climbing

The View:

Though the view at the top is spectacular, the course itself is a mix of trails and paths all winding their way elegantly to the top. Each new turn brings runners a little higher up the mountain and boasts a unique view of the forest, the rivers below and the surrounding mountains. At the top, runners are rewarded with stunning aerial views of Dawson City, the Ogilvie Mountain Range and the Klondike and Yukon Rivers.

Calf Cramper, Dawson City Midnight Dome Run

Calf Cramper, Dawson City Midnight Dome Run

Post-Race Refreshments:

Any seasoned runner can rhyme off the typical finish line fare: bananas, half a bagel (white), granola bars, orange slices and sour Gatorade. In Dawson, volunteers take running recovery to a new level by treating participants to homemade protein bars, scones, fresh fruit and some kind of delicious homemade muffins. Water and recovery fluids are available for runners and coffee and tea bar is available for spectators.

Post Race Refreshments from the Dawson Run Volunteer Team

Post Race Refreshments from the Dawson Run Volunteer Team

Major Bragging Rights:

This is no ordinary run. Inclines on this course are serious. They have names like Heartbreak Hill and one I like to call ‘the calf cramper’. Considering the distance and the climb in elevation one simply cannot fake this thing. This course is a challenge for runners and walkers alike and simply finishing entitles you to a series of bragging rights including; 1) “I ran up a mountain”, 2) “It was an incline the entire 7.2 km”, 3) “I thought I saw a bear but it was just a lady coming out of the bushes after peeing.”

Victory at the top of the Midnight Dome

Victory at the top of the Midnight Dome

The Dawson City Midnight Dome run originated some 37 years ago and is held annually during the Dawson City Music Festival. Fastest male and female runners are awarded prizes for bravery and speed.

Registration is  a steal at $20 and can be done in town the day before or the day of at the start line in front of the Palace Grand Theatre. For more information about the 2015 Dawson City Dome Run contact the Visitors Information Centre in Dawson City.

Special thanks Air North for sponsoring this event; and to Shelley Brown and her merry band of volunteers, organizers, event sponsors and Rangers who donate their time and energy to the run each year.

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