As the running season winds down and runners begin to dig out the winter running gear, or skiing gear, or even the treadmill togs, there are plenty of reasons to run before the temperatures drop and the snow flies.
Consider participating in the newest reason to run in Anchorage. On Sept. 25, East High School is sponsoring its first ever East Side Dash, a unique event focused on strengthening the East Anchorage family, school and community partnerships. The Dash will be held in conjunction with East High School’s Homecoming events “as a way to celebrate all athletes and to mark the grand opening of the new stadium,” says Megan Hatswell, the activities principal at East High School.
Organizers say the event is more than just a Homecoming race. They hope this year’s inaugural Dash will become an annual celebration.
“It’s a way for businesses to support the community, for alumni to give back and to inspire the younger kids to be involved in the community,” Hatswell says.
Among the planned attendees is Olympic Nordic skier Kikkan Randall, possibly the best-known alumni of East High School. Randall – and former U.S. Ski Team member Holly Brooks – will lead the warm-up and run with the athletes. The event dovetails with Randall’s annual Fast and Female program, designed to support, motivate and empower girls ages 9 to 19, which she has helped host at East High School for years.
Throughout September, there are many other reasons to run, too. For many runners, the competitive season is nearing its end, and autumnal runs give them a chance to just run for the joy of running – and help out with great causes at the same time.
Besides the East Side Dash, there is the Alyeska Climbathon, in its eighth year and a fundraiser for the Let Every Woman Know organization, which helps raise awareness about women’s cancers. The Climbathon challenges racers to run up the 2.2-mile North Face Trail as many times as possible in a 10-hour window. Participants who complete 10 laps climb the equivalent elevation of Denali.
“It has to be the coolest event in Alaska,” says Brian Burnett, race director.
Following the Climbathon is the Share Your Spare Dash, a 5-kilometer race and run that supports kidney and tissue donation. Enjoy another beautiful, but relatively flat, course around Delaney Park Strip and the Coastal Trail.
A perennial favorite is the Oktoberfest 5K and 10K races, which help raise money for Bean’s Café and the Brother Francis Shelter. The out-and-back course on the Coastal Trail nicely complements the same spirit of community the East Side Dash is going for, as the East High School community raises money and awareness from their student-run Bean-A-Fits. Another perk of the Oktoberfest is the always-entertaining quarter-mile kids’ fun run, and the fact that costumed runners get a 1-minute head start.
Finally, there’s an event that lets you slow down and enjoy the view. Consider a lovely fall walk for a cause, beginning at the Delany Park Strip and continuing along the Coastal Trail: The 15th annual Anchorage Heart Walk is less of a race and more of a stroll.
“It’s really a beautiful walk,” says Heart Walk director Melissa Wannamaker. Not a race per se, the Heart Walk offers a fun, noncompetitive family and pet-friendly event. At the end of the course, participants are treated to a concert on the lawn, games and prize drawings.
All these events, and many more, offer some great reasons to run, but Ed Hendrickson Heart Walk chairman, probably put it best when he said of the Heart Walk (and all these events): “Participation helps our community thrive and the individual to survive.”
So don’t let the colder weather force you indoors; simply adjust your goals. As Wannamaker says: A “minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise’” per week offers health benefits. So grab a friend or the family and spend a weekend with one of the many great reasons to run.
— Jill Jordan
Run for a reason events
Alyeska Climbathon: Alyeska, Girdwood. Benefitting Let Every Woman Know, to raise money and awareness for the fight against women’s cancers (www.alyeskaclimbathon.com)
Share your Spare Dash: Delaney Park Strip, Anchorage. Benefitting the Alaska Kidney Patients Association, to raise money and promote organ and tissue donation and celebrate a second chance at life. (www.alaskakidney.org)
East Side Dash: East High School, Anchorage. Benefitting East High School Activities, to help celebrate the great people and things that happen on the East side of town. (register.chronotrack.com/r/16010 or Facebook: www.facebook.com/eastanchoragehigh?fref=ts)
Anchorage Heart Walk: Delaney Park Strip, Anchorage. Benefitting the American Heart Association, to help fight against heart disease and stroke. (www.anchorageheartwalk.org)
Oktoberfest: Snow Goose Restaurant, Anchorage. Sponsored by Bristol Bay Native Corp. and Anchorage Running Club and benefitting Bean’s Café and the Brother Francis Shelter. (www.healthyfuturesak.org or email@example.com)