I’ve often spoken about how my love for history and all things travel was sparked and fueled by my fathers (and grandfathers) extensive collection of National Geographics. The sites, the cultures, the experiences, all so different from my little corner of the world. I was completely captivated.
One of the events that has always captivated me was the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona. While I never actually had any spark of desire within me to run with the bulls myself, the concept was just so interesting.
Every spring, around the start of the famous Ititarod, Anchorage celebrates Fur Rendezvous aka Fur Rondy. Being as this is Alaska and we have a lot of great nature things to do but not many non-nature activities, I always keep my eye out for new and exciting opportunities. So, when I took a look at this years Fur Rondy schedule and noticed an event called “The Running of the Reindeer” I was immediately intrigued. I did a little research and immediately knew I had to do it. I mean, a three block dash, in the snow, being chased by reindeer, while wearing costumes, what could be better?!
I immediately recruited a couple friends to do it with me and then we officially faced our first challenge. What would we wear? We considered many different options. Mario characters, animals, minions…. Eventually we decided on Where’s Waldo. A fun, cheap, and easy option.
Now lets fast forward to race day. It’s no secret that our winter here in Alaska has been less than steller. It’s been warmer that normal and slightly dry. They actually had to bring in snow to cover 4th Ave for the race and other events there (Including the most important event of them all, the Ititarod, which had it’s ceremonial start that same morning).
Although our winter had been warmer than usual, the race day was still fairly cold. I’m actually pretty impressed that I managed to fit three layers of clothes underneath my striped Waldo shirt. Thank goodness for stretchy fabric!
About 30 minutes before the dash was about to start everyone began congregating in the middle of the street and it became such a fun atmosphere. People were dressed in all sorts of costumes and it became one big photo-op with all the different groups wanting to get pictures with eachother, whether they were people you knew or not. I can’t even begin to tell you how many photos we were in that day.
The dash itself happened in 4 heats: Men, Women, Groups, and Tourists. We signed up for the group heat because we were originally going to have our guy-friend Skylar join us, but afterwards we were definitely wishing we had done the womens heat. Why? Because the group heat was HUGE. Definitely the biggest of them all.
We found more waldos!
When our time finally came to run we were pretty frozen from standing so long so we were ready to go. Finally the announcer called for us to get ready, Hobo Jim started playing and song, and we were off.
Everything was great at first, but let me tell you, y’all, running in the snow is dang hard! I probably made it 100 ft before I had to slow to a trot, but that’s ok because the reindeer were still nowhere in site (since our heat was soooooo large). It actually got to the point where I thought I would finish the track before I even saw a reindeer so I slowed to a walk, and finally, about 2 blocks in the first reindeer came whizzing by, wedging itself quickly between me and my friend Leslie. Soon there were reindeer all around.
*I got these pictures off of Instagram. I was obviously a little preoccupied during the dash
And then there was the last reindeer. My empathetic side came out and I felt so bad for it. It seemed scared and confused. It would stop, turn around, run in circles. By this point I had started jogging again and before I knew it this little scared reindeer was right in front of me… and then it stopped, and I bet you can guess what happened next.
Yep, I ran into a reindeer.
That’s right, the reindeer didn’t run into me, I ran into it. Poor little thing. Fortunately neither of us were knocked over. Also fortunately it was one of the reindeer without a rack.
By the time we reached the end of the track my lungs were on fire and I was seeing stars. Of course the paramedic in me started to diagnose myself. It was like everything I had learned in class about perfusion and ventilation was coming to life, and I didn’t want it to.
After the dash. Completely real emotions. Feeling death.
In the end we all had a lot of fun. Would I do it again? Possibly. If I had a good group and good costumes to go along with it. I will say it’s definitely a must-do at least once in your life. You just can’t beat the experience!