• Running of the Boots raises funds for Sitka Local Foods Network

It’s time to dig your XtraTufs out of the closet and gussy them up. The 17th annual Running of the Boots takes place at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 24, at the Crescent Harbor shelter. And this year people who “Bike to the Boots” can receive a free bike safety check before the race.

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 non-profit group 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.

Participants line up behind the Running of the Boots banner before the start of the race

Participants line up behind the Running of the Boots banner before the start of the race

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 course involves a run from Crescent Harbor to the corner of Katlian and Lincoln streets and back, with a short course for kids looping around St. Michael’s Cathedral. 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. There is a lip synch contest after the race, which costs $10 to enter. Local merchants have donated bushels of prizes for the costume and lip synch contests, including a new pair of XtraTufs. The Sitka Local Foods Network will host a Sitka Farmers Market booth with fresh veggies for sale. Grilled black cod and crépes also will be available.

The “Bike to the Boots” event was added this year as part of the national 350.org “Moving Planet: A Day to Move Beyond Fossil Fuels” event on Sept. 24 promoting community sustainability. A bike station will be set up at 10 a.m. at Crescent Harbor Shelter, and people can pump air into their tires, oil their chains, get a safety check, receive info about bicycle safety rules and more. There also will be booths about Sitka environmental issues, the importance of local food and how to reduce our use of fossil fuels.

Runners hit the trail during the 14th Annual Running of the Boots race on Sept. 27, 2008, in Sitka.

“This is a really fun way to advance the Sitka Farmers Market and our other Sitka Local Foods Network projects,” Sitka Local Foods Network Board President Kerry MacLane said. “The ‘Bike to the Boots’ event will add a fun new twist to the Running of the Boots, while helping remind people about how much fossil fuel is used to bring food to Sitka from thousands of miles away.”

To learn more about the Running of the Boots, contact Kerry MacLane at 752-0654 or by e-mail at maclanekerry@yahoo.com. Historical information about the race (through 2005) can be found online at http://www.runningoftheboots.org/, and info about the Sitka Local Foods Network and more recent Running of the Boots events (2008-10) is online at http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/.

• 2011 Running Of The Boots flier (feel free to print this PDF and hang copies around town)