Wrangell Sentinel -

By Dan Rudy 

Holiday half-marathon raises money for cancer care


Photo courtesy of Asia Dore Photography

Michelle Jenkins, Jill Privett, Mikki Angerman, Lucy Robinson, Josephine Lewis show support for runners of the Alaska Day 5K at the finish line on Saturday.

Local runners stretched their legs last week in honor of Alaska Day, taking part in a five-kilometer run and half-marathon and raising money for cancer care in the process.

The event was put together by Southeast Beasts, a local nonprofit made up of runners, joggers and walkers who get together during the year to enjoy the outdoors and raise money for worthy causes in the process. Since the Alaska Day 5K and Half-Marathon's start in 2014, F/V Pacific Sea owner Frank Warfel Jr. has each year covered costs for staging the run, allowing proceeds raised to go toward the group's selected charity.

This year that money will go toward the Wrangell Medical Center Foundation's cancer care fund, which helps defray costs of travel and lodging for individuals receiving cancer treatment. Last year Southeast Beasts' marathon raised around $1,300 for the program. Final tallies on what was raised this year have yet to be announced.

Fifty participants and their dogs took to the course on Saturday morning, looping runners through town on either the 5K or 13-mile half-marathon route.

"I would consider that successful," event organizer Lucy Robinson said of the turnout.

In the 5K, Erik Ekland took first among men with a time of 24 minutes and 31 seconds. Jenn Davies took first among women at 25:36. Running the half-marathon, Dustin Johnson came in first for men at a time of one hour and 37 minutes. Kristen Gronlund placed first for women at exactly two hours. Race winners each got an Alaska flag along with their medals and other prizes.

The annual run makes a point of celebrating life in Alaska, from the locally-themed placement medals to the starting line built from crab pots and bearing the state flag. Each year it grows in scope a bit more, with local vendors setting up tables inside the Nolan Center for a late-season community market.

"We're trying to kind of build this event up and build more of a community-wide festival," explained Robinson. "My goal with Alaska Day and with every run is community cooperation. I love bringing people in and getting them involved in the event."

Photo courtesy of Asia Dore Photography

Around 50 participants start off on Saturday's charitable run, which both celebrated the United States' acquisition of Alaska in 1867 and raised funds for Wrangell Medical Center's cancer care travel fund.

Many hands went into making the event a fun one. Volunteers wearing the state's iconic Xtratuff boots set up the course and manned aid stations. Industrial arts students at the high school helped finalize designs for the alder medallions and used the program's laser cutter to create them. One high school senior helped with the staging as part of her capstone project.

As with other years, the Alaska Day 5K and Half-Marathon also featured music, calling up the Rumble Fish of Juneau to play bluegrass at the Stikine Inn after the race.

"There was a great turnout," Robinson said. "We're so excited that every year we're able to find a band that's willing to come out and play."

At one point they were joined by local string instrumentalists from the Stikine Strings, giving young musicians the chance to play with the seasoned band.

"I just thought that was a really cool opportunity," said Robinson.

The group's next event will be its Thanksgiving-themed Turkey Trot 5K, which will get people out and active the morning of November 24. In past years, proceeds from the run go to support the local food bank.


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