Alaska Race Tests The Limits Of Attention Span, Human Spirit

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Right now, a select group of people in Anchorage, Alaska, has been running/walking under artificial lighting for more than three days. They will continue to run for three more.

The six-day race used to be all the rage in the 19th century, but since the advent of moving pictures, it's been relegated to an obscure event with few participants. Its niche status and demanding venue requirements (you try finding a track to rent for nearly a week) have meant that the event hasn't been contested for 10 years. Until Monday.


Six Days in the Dome takes place on a standard 400-meter track under a protective dome. This being one of the few months in Alaska that a dome isn't necessary, the space was available, and several tens of people have gathered to suffer compete in 24-hour, 48-hour, and six-day trials of miles. Competitors can stop, nap, and eat (in fact, the race provides three squares a day for all participants) before resuming their Sisyphean task.


Why? Everybody's got a hobby.

The race's stated goal is to break records, and already one has fallen. Traci Falbo, a 42-year-old mom, broke the world record for 48 hours on Wednesday, totaling just over 242 miles, or 968 laps. By the time she finished, she was bent like a parenthesis.

But after her race concluded, a hardy few still trudge around the oval while their support crews sleep on the infield. The echoes of the space make it sound like a YMCA gym minus the dribbling basketballs. You can watch the sad spectacle here.

There is little money; the first person to break 600 miles gets $1,000, or twice the entry fee. The only thing you'll get from it is bragging rights—if you can find someone to listen that long.