Fools not only ones running at midnight

Posted: Friday, June 23, 2000

Strange things happen under the Midnight Sun, or Midnight Dusk as the case may be in Juneau, and tonight is no exception.

The 16th Annual Only Fools Run at Midnight fun run will clog the streets near Centennial Hall as some 300 runners and walkers try to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Alaska.

The 5-kilometer race starts at midnight, with runners heading down Willoughby Avenue, past Juneau-Douglas High School and on to the turnaround at the intersection of Ross Street and Glacier Avenue. A 1-mile walk, also starting at midnight, heads the other way down Willoughby, toward the cruise ship terminal and back.

``We don't have construction on Willoughby this year, so we're using our traditional route,'' said Nell Higginbotham, who works in MDA-Alaska's Anchorage office and organizes the race. ``This is one of our fund-raisers, and I've heard in the past it's raised up to $15,000. Last year it grossed $8,000, and netted about $4,000 after expenses, and I'd like to get it back up over $10,000. The money raised here stays in Alaska and is used to help pay for treatment, summer camps and medical equipment.''

Muscular dystrophy isn't really a single disease, but is a term for a group of about 40 different neuromuscular diseases that can destroy the muscles. MDA is a voluntary national health organization dedicated to fighting the diseases, which affect more than 200 Alaskans. MDA receives no government funding, United Way funds or fees from the people it serves.

Tonight's race will appeal to serious runners and not-so-serious runners alike.

Last year's 5K race was won by former Juneau-Douglas High School runner Jim Shine, a fourtime NCAA Division II all-American in cross-country running and track at Western State College in Gunnison, Colo. Recent JDHS graduate Breea DeSloover won the women's race last year, beating her former JDHS teammate and current Wheaton College runner Maria Eley by two seconds.

But there are also runners who show up in costume, like Steve Brown, the race's top MDA-Alaska fund-raiser the past two years. Brown wore a full Santa Claus suit, complete with black boots and bushy beard, and pushed his then-5-year-old daughter Charlotte around the course in a baby carriage loaded with stuffed animals.

The race has three costume contest categories - best centipede (five people connected by one costume), best individual costume and best fool costume. There are also door prize drawings, including the grand prize of airfare, hotel and paid entry into the America's Finest City Half-Marathon and 5K in San Diego on Aug. 13. In order to be entered into the grand prize drawing, racers have to raise at least $300 for MDA-Alaska, with more entries being awarded for more money being raised.

Most racers obtain sponsor pledges, and there is no minimum amount of pledges needed in order to enter the race. Runners can still enter the race, starting at 10 p.m. tonight at Centennial Hall. The day-of-race entry fee is $25 for adults and $15 for children, which includes a race cap. A longsleeved shirt is available for an entry fee of $50 for adults and $25 for children.

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