It’s time to dig your XtraTufs out of the closet and gussy them up. The 22nd annual Running of the Boots begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 17, at the big tent near Totem Square park on Lincoln Street. (NOTE: This is a change from last year’s meeting place and what was previously announced for this year’s event.)
While the meeting place is different this year, the actual race course will be roughly the same as the past three races but with a different start-finish line. This change allows the race to be a bigger part of the Season’s-End Celebration festivities hosted downtown by the Greater Sitka Chamber of Commerce and the Alaska Cruise Line Association. In addition to the Running of the Boots, the Season’s-End Celebration includes a lunch from noon to 3 p.m. for Sitka residents featuring hamburgers, hot dogs, and fish. Instead of being free, this year people are asked to make a $2 donation to the activities funds at Sitka and Mount Edgecumbe high schools when they get their lunch.
“We’re going to have a blast this year under a huge tent right at Totem Square park, across from City Hall,” race organizer Kerry MacLane said. “This isn’t just for kids. Some of our most memorable entries have been adults. This is a chance to accessorize your boots, or go all out and come as your most wearable art creature from outer space. We’ll have great live music, hot chocolate, and there is even a great local 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 Totem Square park, and heads down Harbor Drive and up Maksoutov Street before cutting by St. Michael’s Cathedral and finishing down Lincoln Street toward City Hall and the start-finish 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. As usual, local merchants have donated bushels of prizes for the costume contest. 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 Alaska Quest electronic benefit cards.
“Not only is the Running of the Boots a blast, it supports the local foods movement,” 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 752-0654 or 747-7888, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We also need several volunteers to help set up and take down the race (two needed) and to judge the costumes (two needed). Contact MacLane to learn how to volunteer.
Historical information about the race (through 2005) can be found online at http://www.runningoftheboots.org/. Info about the Sitka Local Foods Network and more recent Running of the Boots events (2008-15) is online at http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/ (type Running of the Boots into the search bar at the top of the page). Click this link to see a slideshow of scenes from the 2015 Running of the Boots.
Also, don’t forget to like our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SitkaLocalFoodsNetwork and follow our Twitter page at https://www.twitter.com/SitkaLocalFoods (@SitkaLocalFoods) to stay updated on Sitka Local Foods Network activities.