Wrangell walkers cover 5,500 miles and win Southeast trophy

Wrangell won a regional Parks and Recreation competition as local participants walked more than others in Southeast this summer. On average, Wrangell’s 22 participants in the challenge tallied 252 miles each — enough to walk from Juneau to Wrangell to Ketchikan, with almost two dozen miles to spare.

In total, the 22 people walked more than 5,500 miles.

Wrangell Parks and Rec Director Lucy Robinson told the borough assembly at its Sept. 12 meeting that her department helped promote and localize the competition. “We did some fun stuff,” Robinson told the assembly, “We figured out how many miles it was from one of the harbors to the (Stikine) flats and different areas of the Stikine. And then we headed north to Skagway.”

Juneau’s Parks and Rec Department coordinates the annual competition, running from the first of May through the first of September. Participants log miles using an app or paper mileage trackers. Miles can be walked, jogged or run outside, and can’t include other outdoor activities like biking or paddling.

Juneau started the challenge during the early pandemic as a way to get residents outside. It expanded into a friendly community-versus-community competition over the next two years, adding Petersburg, Wrangell and Ketchikan. Next year, Sitka and Skagway are set to join in the challenge.

Alaska Airlines is a major sponsor of the competition — participants who walk over 150 miles are entered to win round-trip tickets with the airline. The trophy for the competition features a miniature Alaska Airlines jet. Mayor Patty Gilbert accepted the challenge trophy at the Wrangell airport in early September.

“It was an honor,” Gilbert said, adding with a laugh: “Except I must confess, as I left the airport terminal, I broke a wing off. So I thought, ‘This is great. The mayor accepts a trophy on behalf of Wrangell. And I’m so proud, and break it.’”


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