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  • Writer's pictureJoe Nail

Project 1310 | Episode 1: Alaska

Many of my fondest memories and greatest adventures have been in Alaska, so it only felt fitting to begin Project 1310 here. The summer before my freshman year, I spent a month backpacking through the Alaska wilderness with the National Outdoor Leadership School. I returned for a week in the summer of 2017, and last summer I was here for a three-week expedition to climb Denali itself, the tallest mountain in North America.

Just a few hours after finishing the last of my Stanford exams, I boarded a flight headed from San Francisco to Anchorage. We arrived in Anchorage very late that night and spent the next morning gathering supplies for the first marathon.

From there we made the 5+ hour trek up to Denali National Park to do some recon on the route. Unfortunately a huge chunk of the park is off limits due to land slide, and the other area I was hoping to run was closed off to vehicles with camping reservations only.

We pivoted to taking on a 26.2 mile stretch of Denali Highway, a very remote, gravel road that navigates the mountains and tundra just to the east of Denali. This far north, the sun never completely sets. So even though it was nearly 11 PM by the time we arrived at the start point, it was still fully light out.

Getting ready to take those first few steps felt totally surreal. Under the midnight sun. Not a single other person outside my crew in sight. And getting ready to start the first of 50 marathons, knowing both that I was in for an amazing adventure and a lot of discomfort.

A little over 4 hours after taking those first steps, and after several encounters with moose and elk, I had completed marathon #1. We did a 4 AM post-race interview and drove back to a one-room yurt for a few hours of sleep before making the long trip back down to Anchorage. We made it to our gate just in time to get on the plane to Honolulu.

Less than 12 hours after boarding I’d be at the starting line in Hawaii for marathon #2.


Time for Marathon + 1,000 Push Ups: 4 hours, 12 minutes.

Average heart rate: 146.

Elevation: 4,080 feet.

1,500 feet of elevation gain and 2,000 of elevation loss.


Up next: Hawaii



Over the course of 50 marathons, Joe will be running a total of 1,310 miles. Each and every mile will be dedicated to a veteran or service member nominated by this community.


In each of the 50 states, Joe will be running the marathon and completing the push-ups in an iconic location, from Pearl Harbor in Hawaii to the steps of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., and encouraging everyone to come out and walk or run a mile in honor of a veteran or service member who you know or admire. In each state, Joe and the crew will also be meeting and walking or running with local veterans groups and active military service members.


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