There are many ways to enjoy the midnight sun. Fishing, hiking and gardening are all popular, but how about running a marathon?

That’s right, on June 23, Mayo will host the 17th annual Mayo Midnight Marathon.

The marathon began in 1996 as a 32-participant event. Now over 200 runners and walkers are attracted to the town.

“We take great pride in having so many people come from all over to participate in this homegrown marathon,” says Cheryl Klippert, race director and organizer.

Klippert, an avid runner and Mayo resident of 33 years, decided to organize the first Midnight Marathon after running a marathon in Calgary. Trying to decide which event to participate in next, a friend suggested they should just have one right there in Mayo.

The event was a success and has been growing in popularity ever since, despite almost no advertising.

Starting in front of the community hall, the run continues out of town along the Silver Trail towards Stewart Crossing, taking participants right into the Yukon scenery.

“We get runners from across the country, a few American runners, and in past years we’ve had people come from all over the world,” says Klippert.

With the marathon organized to fall close to the summer solstice on June 21, for many participants the chance to be out under the midnight sun is a unique opportunity.

And the Yukon wilderness is always an adventure for participants used to running in more built-up areas.

“One runner experienced a bear sighting on the road,” explains Klippert, describing an experience that was a little frightening for the runner, who was more accustomed to dodging city traffic than Yukon wildlife.

Klippert adds that the runner was not in any danger.

“We have lots of volunteers going up and down [the road],” she explains, which makes it a very safe event.

Participants can run the full distance of 42 kilometres which starts at 8 p.m., or take a shorter option, ranging from a half marathon run to a 5 km walk/run. Starting times are staggered so all participants are generally finished by 1 a.m.

In its initial years, the event was a one-way run from further down the Silver Trail into the community, and started at one minute past midnight.

The late night schedule is a unique aspect of this event, which Klippert says makes things “a little more difficult” than other marathons, which often start in the morning.

But participants are well rewarded for their effort and treated later the morning of the race finish to a gourmet breakfast, which has become an attraction in itself.

“It’s a homemade breakfast,” explains Klippert. “A lot of the women in town donate baked goods and bread.”

Add to that fresh fruit, eggs, hash browns, ham, and of course a glass of Champagne and the runners have a fine way to recover from a late night of running.

Due to the logistics of putting on such a feast, the breakfast is limited to event participants.

The Midnight Marathon coincides with the Mayo Arts Festival, so participants will be able to get a taste of Yukon arts, craft and music during the day while waiting for the marathon to start.

For Klippert, running is not just a summer activity. A member of the Mayo Fly-by-Night Running Club, she describes running as a “great way to beat cabin fever” in winter.

“My cut off temperature is about -35 and then I’ll use my treadmill,” she laughs.

For further information and registration details, check the website at: http://www.mayomidnightmarathon.ca/.