SAIL Senior Hiking Club sets next hike for the morning of Thursday, Sept. 5

The Sitka office of Southeast Alaska Independent Living Inc. (SAIL) has announced its next Senior Hiking Club hike will take place from 9:30 a.m. to noon on Thursday, Sept. 5. (NOTE: This is a time change from the past hikes.) Seniors should meet at the Swan Lake Senior Center for transportation to the Cross Trail trailhead.

Normally, the group picks the trail on the day of the hike, but occasionally a trail is picked before the event. SAIL makes trekking poles available for hikers to use (trekking poles are great on ice or uneven terrain, and they help seniors keep their balance), and hikers are encouraged to bring ice cleats such as YakTrax during the icy months of winter.

SAIL offers Senior Hiking Club events for those age 60 or older once or twice a month, usually on the second or third Thursday. There is a $5 fee, but nobody will be turned away because of finances. The hikes are open to people of all abilities and fitness levels. To learn more about the Senior Hiking Club, check out our January 2013 post introducing the club.

In addition to the hike event on Sept. 5, SAIL will offer two more activities for seniors in September. From 10-11 a.m. on Tuesdays starting on Sept. 3, SAIL will join the Senior Walking Hours event from 10-11 a.m. at the Hames Athletic and Wellness Center. From 9:30 a.m. to noon on Thursday, Sept. 12, there will be a senior fishing event at a location TBA. This event costs $5 and a fishing license is required. Fishing poles will be provided.

To learn more about the Senior Hiking Club, senior and adaptive kayaking trips, senior cycling events, and and a variety of other outdoors skills and survival classes, contact SAIL ORCA (Outdoor Recreation and Community Access) program coordinator Anna Hennessey at 747-6859 or email her at The calendar includes hiking, orienteering, kayaking, and other events for seniors, youth, and the disabled.

• SAIL events calendar for September 2019

25th annual Running of the Boots raises funds for Sitka Local Foods Network and Youth Advocates of Sitka

It’s time to dig your XtraTufs out of the closet and paint them up. The 25th annual Running of the Boots begins at 11:30 a.m. (registration opens at 10:30 a.m.) on Saturday, Sept. 28, at the big tent near Totem Square park on Lincoln Street. For the second straight year, the costumed fun run fundraiser benefits two local nonprofit organizations — the Sitka Local Foods Network and Youth Advocates of Sitka. (Note, times are tentative, so watch for updates.)

This year, there will be more food, music and other tents staged near the start of the Running of the Boots, so it will have a more festive atmosphere. 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 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. for Sitka residents featuring hamburgers and hot dogs. People are asked to make a $2 donation when they get their lunch, and the money raised will go toward the Sitka’s Cloud teen center project from the 2018 Sitka Health Summit that is being coordinated by Youth Advocates of Sitka.

“We’re happy to share this event with Youth Advocates of Sitka again this year,” Sitka Local Foods Network board president Charles Bingham said. “The Sitka Local Foods Network has hosted this event for more than a decade, but the last couple of years we weren’t sure if we had enough board members in town to keep the event going. We needed some help. It’s a great event, and I’m happy Youth Advocates of Sitka decided to partner with us again to keep it around for a 25th year. We wanted to honor the kid-friendly aspect of the event, and Youth Advocates of Sitka serves that role, as well as operating a youth-run food business (the Smoothie Truck) during the summer.”

“Youth Advocates of Sitka is proud to be involved with the Sitka tradition, Running of the Boots,” Youth Advocates of Sitka executive director Charlie Woodcock said. “Our vision is to empower youth to grow into healthy, happy, and productive members of our community. What a wonderful opportunity for us to support our youth and community with a fun and original celebration!”

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). For the past decade, the Running of the Boots raised 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 event also will raise funds for Youth Advocates of Sitka, which provides a variety of mental and behavioral services for youth and their families in Sitka, including the Sitka Cloud teen center that recently opened on Harbor Drive next to Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop.

The Running of the Boots is a short race built 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 course starts at Totem Square park, and runners will run from one end of Lincoln Street to the other and back to Totem Square park (or, we may just run from Totem Square down Lincoln Street to St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Cathedral, where runners will loop around the church and head back to Totem Square). Note, the course is blocked off, so no cars for the kids (and parents) to worry about.

There will be lots of prizes, including some new pairs of XtraTufs. There also is live music, and fun for the entire family. Some of the better costumes in recent years have been worn by adults.

The entry fee for the Running of the Boots is $10 per person and $30 per family, and people can register for the race starting at 10:30 a.m. Costume judging starts about 11 a.m., and runners hit the streets at 11:30 a.m. (NOTE: these times are tentative and may be changed).

As usual, local merchants have donated bushels of prizes for the costume contest. The Sitka Local Foods Network will host a farm stand booth with fresh veggies for sale from St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm. The booth takes debit cards, WIC vouchers and Alaska Quest (SNAP) electronic benefit cards. The Smoothie Truck also will be at the event.

To learn more about the Running of the Boots, contact Charles Bingham of the Sitka Local Foods Network at 623-7660 or by email at, or contact Charlie Woodcock of Youth Advocates of Sitka at 747-2910 or by email at We also need several volunteers to help set up and take down the race (at least two needed) and to judge the costumes (two needed). Contact Charles Bingham, Charlie Woodcock or Sydney Carter of YAS (747-2848 or to learn how to volunteer.

Historical information about the race (through 2005) can be found online at Info about the Sitka Local Foods Network and more recent Running of the Boots events (2008-18) is online at (type ‘Running of the Boots’ into the search bar near the top of the page). Click this link to see a slideshow of scenes from the 2018 Running of the Boots.

Also, don’t forget to like our Facebook page at and follow our Twitter page at (@SitkaLocalFoods) to stay updated on Sitka Local Foods Network activities. The Youth Advocates of Sitka page on Facebook is

Hames Center announces new season of Senior Walking Hours program starting Sept. 3

Seniors, now you can walk your way to better health and connect with friends with the next season of senior walking hours.

Join us from 10-11 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays starting on Tuesday, Sept. 3, at the Hames Center for the Senior Walking Hours program, which is designed for seniors to make new friends and meet their fitness goals. This program originally launched in April 2016 and has been held annually in the fall since then. Having an indoor walking place for seniors helps prevents falls on the ice as we head toward winter.

Led by trained Hames Center instructors, this program is donation-based and open to all seniors, caregivers, and those with specialized walking needs. The Hames Center gym is handicap-accessible, so people who need to use wheelchairs, canes, and other assistive devices are welcome. Pedometers are available to track your progress while you gain strength and balance.

For more information, call 747-5080 or visit

Sitka’s Walk For Recovery scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 14

September is National Recovery Month, designed to increase the awareness and understanding of mental health and substance use disorders. As part of the National Recovery Month celebration in Sitka, there will be a Walk For Recovery starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 14, at Harrigan Centennial Hall (meet at 9:30 a.m.).

The walk will go over the O’Connell Bridge and back, and will help spread the message that prevention works, treatment is effective and people recover.

For more information, contact Alec Duncan of Sitka Counseling and Prevention Services at 747-3636.

SEARHC, Stride 365 co-host Run for Suicide Prevention on Saturday, Sept. 7

The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) and Run Sitka’s Stride 365 program will co-host the Run for Suicide Prevention on Saturday, Sept. 7.

Runners should meet at 9 a.m. for a 9:30 a.m. race start at the O’Connell Bridge Lightering Facility. The cost of the five-kilometer race and two-mile walk is a donation of $10. Proceeds this month benefit Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School.

The SEARHC Crisis Hotline at 1-877-294-0074 is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for any Southeast Alaska resident who needs help getting through a crisis. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255, for those outside Southeast Alaska.

Each month SEARHC and Run Sitka (#runsitka) host a Stride 365 event on the first Saturday of every month, with proceeds going to a different charity in Sitka.

For more information, please contact Heleena van Veen by email at, or by phone at 966-8914.

SEARHC, Stride 365 co-host Run for Back To School on Saturday, Aug. 3

The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) and Run Sitka’s Stride 365 program will co-host the Run for Fish To Schools on Saturday, Aug. 3.

Runners should meet at 9 a.m. for a 9:30 a.m. race start at the O’Connell Bridge Lightering Facility. The cost of the five-kilometer race and two-mile walk is a donation of $10. Proceeds this month benefit Baranof Elementary School.

Each month SEARHC and Run Sitka (#runsitka) host a Stride 365 event on the first Saturday of every month, with proceeds going to a different charity in Sitka. For more information, please contact Heleena van Veen by email at, or by phone at 966-8914.

SEARHC to host Fit Happens Step Challenge for Southeast Alaska walkers in August

Are you a Southeast Alaska walker who tries to get your 10,000 steps in every day? Are you interested in a challenge that might help you reach that goal?

The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) health promotion program is hosting the Fit Happens Step Challenge during the month of August, and walkers can shoot for 100,000 or 200,000 steps during the month. If you meet your weekly goals, you might even win prizes.

How do you participate? Go to to register and download your step trackers. Then email your weekly step counts over the weekend to your local site leader, so you’re entered before each week’s drawing at noon on Monday (drawings start Monday, Aug. 12). There are weekly prizes for each division (100,000 steps and 200,000 steps), and a grand prize drawing at the end of the challenge.

“This is the perfect opportunity to challenge yourself and build a new healthy habit,” Sitka health educator Heleena Van Veen said.

If you want to do more than walk, the step tracker sheets include step conversions for other healthy activities, such as gardening or cycling.

For more information, contact these local site leaders:

  • Haines – Pam Sloper | 907.766.6367 | pams@searhcorg
  • Juneau – Hannah Schlosstein | 907.364.4404 |
  • Kake – Monique Ybarra | 907.785.6514|
  • Klukwan – Joanne Spudd | 907.766.6319 |
  • Prince of Wales – Kelsey Evans | 907.755.4995 |
  • Sitka – Heleena van Veen | 907.966.8914 |
  • Wrangell – Hannah Schlosstein | 907.364.4404 |