A night for the fools

Foolish runners help raise money for Muscular Dystrophy Association

Posted: Sunday, June 24, 2001

Some ran by plane and some by boat, just for the halibut, but nearly 300 runners showed up for the Only Fools Run at Night race late Friday night to help raise money the Alaska office of the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

A group of four runners -- Erica Sjoroos, Holly Bierkortte, Kristen Murphy and Scott Schaub -- showed up to fly the one-mile walking course, linked in costume as a plane with rotating propellor.

A group of five U.S. Coast Guard workers -- Mary Ann Gosling (bait), Chris Grisafe (halibut), Rick Sharpe (fisherman) and cardboard boat carriers Stacie Fain (bow) and Lynnette McNutt (stern) -- ran the five-kilometer course linked as a fishing expedition.

Other individuals and groups ran with wigs, court jester hats, umbrella hats, cocktail dresses and more, having foolish fun while raising money to help the Alaska office of MDA fight 40 types of neuromuscular diseases and help Alaskans stricken with the diseases.

"This is the ultimate costume for Juneau," said local resident Nina Carlson, who wore a grass skirt and hat of palm fronds as she ran with friend Tracy Valentine of Leavenworth, Wash., who was a court jester. "If it's raining, this is an umbrella. If it's sunny, it's shade. We were running companions 25 years ago, and we flew her (Valentine) up here for the race so we could be together again."

"I had a hat, and you had to start with that," said Kathy Kartchner, who teamed up with John Garrard and his son Jacko Garrard as 'The Wizard of Did,' which featured the two adults running in purple wizard outfits while pushing Jacko in a cart.


The 19th annual version of the race started two hours earlier than normal, with a 10 p.m. start Friday night instead of midnight so more families with children might participate. While the race had its serious side, many of the adults were like children with their costumes.

"We needed some bonding," said Gosling, a frequent racer who was credited by her group as being the instigator behind the fishing expedition costume. "We all work together at the Coast Guard, so I was like, 'Let's go race.' It's a way to get them out doing something."

The fun run featured a five-kilometer course that went from Willoughby Avenue up Capitol Avenue and around Behrends Avenue to Glacier Avenue a bit beyond Juneau-Douglas High School. After the runners turned around, they returned to Centennial Hall by way of Glacier Avenue and Willoughby Avenue. The modified course added a couple of hills, but still proved to be faster than last year's run.

Jesse Stringer, who will be a senior at Juneau-Douglas High School this fall, ran with Shawn Miller and Dave Pusich for most of the race, but pulled away near J.J.'s Deli to win the race in a time of 16 minutes, 28 seconds. Miller took second place in 16:36 and Pusich was third in 16:37, a full minute ahead of his winning time last year. Thomas Casey took fourth place in 17:55 and Guy Thibodeau was fifth in 17:59.

"I pulled away on a slight downhill just before J.J.'s," said Stringer, who took second to Pusich last year. "I got to where I couldn't hear them anymore and I felt safe. It wasn't that intense. It was just the three of us."

Miller just finished his sophomore year running for Western Washington University's track and cross-country running teams, but he said he's still building up his mileage base and wasn't running seriously Friday.

"He (Stringer) knew the course a little better than I did," Miller said. "I thought we had an extra kilometer to go. I think I can keep pace with Jesse, but I need to wait four months. If I have my best races now I'm in trouble. I'm still increasing my mileages."

"We ran most of the race together," said Pusich, who took time off from organizing the Rainball Invitational softball tournament this weekend to participate in the race. "Jesse pulled ahead, probably about the Federal Building. He's a few steps faster than me, and youth prevailed in our sprint (with Miller). I was working pretty hard, but it was fun."

The women's race was won by Sarah Rebick of Northfield, Mass., who posted a time of 19:07 to beat Juneau's Erin Mitchell by 25 seconds. Molly Krehlik of Juneau took third place in 20:08, followed by Brandy Weston in 20:36 and Karen Nanseth in 20:42.

Rebick, a high school coach in her hometown, just arrived in Juneau on Tuesday to attend the Bread Loaf School of English held at the University of Alaska Southeast (in conjunction with Middlebury College of Vermont). She said her last race was the Boston Marathon in April.

"I had no idea how it would go," Rebick said. "I just came out here to get the lay of the land."

"It was fun, I liked it a lot better (being early)," Mitchell said. "There were a lot more kids and you could see a lot more of the high school kids working hard. It's so cute with the costumes."

Complete results will run later in the week.

Charles Bingham can be reached at cbingham@juneauempire.com.

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