No one knew quite what to expect when the Alaska Run for Women went virtual this year because of the global pandemic, but it’s safe to say the event exceeded expectations.
More than 3,700 people participated -- 3,705 to be precise -- in the annual footrace that raises money for the fight against breast cancer. Together they raised $142,538, pushing the total raised since the race began in 1993 to nearly $5 million.
The organizing committee “is overwhelmed with the outpouring of support,” spokeswoman Nance Larsen said by email.
The virtual race covered an eight-day span that ended last Saturday -- eight days, race organizers said, because an average of one out of eight women is diagnosed with breast cancer.
During those eight days, the race’s Facebook and Instagram pages were flooded with photos from Alaska and beyond, many of them showing participants dressed in pink, the signature color of breast cancer awareness.
Jane Marshall did the race for the 25th time, turning the Kenai River beach into a course. “The beach in Kenai was beautiful but I hope to rejoin the crowd next year,” she said in a Facebook post shared with the race.
Anna Dalton, the defending champion, wore her all-pink race gear and printed out a bib from the race website for her virtual run Saturday. She ran on trails and did 5 miles in about 33 minutes.
“I ended up doing the race as a workout after a 2.5-hour day in the mountains,” she said.
Sheri Fleming Boggs, a survivor of breast cancer, walked the Coastal Trail in Anchorage with a friend who is also a survivor. “It was great visiting with her,” she said.
A total of 349 survivors participated, a slight increase over last year’s 325. Last year’s total participation in the 1- and 5-mile events, usually held on a loop that begins at the Sullivan Arena parking lot and ends at the Anchorage Football Stadium, topped 4,000.
Teams were a big part of the virtual experience. There were 163 of them, all with five or more members, and together they raised $108,603. The team with the most members also raised the most money -- Chugach Alaska Corporation, whose 192 members raised $12,398.
Team Screen took advantage of the virtual aspect of the race, which allowed people to sign up anywhere in the world. It boasted 62 team members from all over -- Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Oregon, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Canada.
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