It’s time to dig your XtraTufs out of the closet and gussy them up. The 19th annual Running of the Boots begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 28, at the big tents near St. Michael of the Archangel Russian Orthodox Cathedral on Lincoln Street. This year’s event features a new meeting point and course, allowing the race to be a bigger part of the End-of-Season Celebration festivities hosted downtown by the Greater Sitka Chamber of Commerce and the Alaska Cruise Line Association.
“I’m excited about the Running of the Boots joining the End-of-Season folks under one big tent … literally,” race organizer Kerry MacLane said. “We’ll have music, hot chocolate, and folks can enjoy a complimentary lunch after oodles of prizes have been awarded.”
So what is the Running of the Boots? It’s Southeast Alaska’s answer to Spain’s “Running of the Bulls.” Sitkans wear zany costumes and XtraTufs — Southeast Alaska’s distinctive rubber boots (aka, Sitka Sneakers). The Running of the Boots raises funds for the Sitka Local Foods Network, a nonprofit organization that hosts the Sitka Farmers Market and advocates for community gardens, a community greenhouse, sustainable uses of traditional subsistence foods and education for Sitka gardeners.
The Running of the Boots is a short race for fun and not for speed, even though one of the many prize categories is for the fastest boots. Other prize categories include best-dressed boots, zaniest costume, best couple, best kids group and more. The new course starts by St. Michael’s Cathedral, and heads down Lincoln Street toward City Hall, takes a left on Harbor Drive and loops up Maksoutov Street and back to the starting line.
The entry fee for the Running of the Boots is $5 per person and $20 per family, and people can register for the race starting at 10 a.m. Costume judging starts about 10:30 a.m., and runners hit the streets at 11 a.m. Local merchants have donated bushels of prizes for the costume contest, including a flightseeing trip for three, toys, gift certificates and pies. The Sitka Local Foods Network will host a Sitka Farmers Market booth with fresh veggies for sale. The booth takes debit cards, WIC vouchers and Quest cards.
“This is a really fun way to advance the Sitka Farmers Market and our other Sitka Local Foods Network projects,” MacLane said. “This is a must-see annual change-of-the season tradition in Sitka.”
To learn more about the Running of the Boots, contact Kerry MacLane at (907) 752-0654 or (907) 747-7888, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Historical information about the race (through 2005) can be found online at runningoftheboots.org, and info about the Sitka Local Foods Network and more recent Running of the Boots events (2008-12) is online at sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org. Also, like our new Facebook page at facebook.com/SitkaLocalFoodsNetwork.