• 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 18th annual Running of the Boots begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29, at the Crescent Harbor shelter.

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. The network also has a representative on the Alaska Food Policy Council.

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 no longer a lip synch contest after the race. Prizes will be awarded right after the race so folks will have time to get to the free Season’s End Celebration food booths on Lincoln Street, which are being sponsored by the Alaska Cruise Association and the Greater Sitka Chamber of Commerce.

Local merchants have donated bushels of prizes for the costume contest, including a flightseeing trip for three from Harris Air and a new pair of XtraTufs from Russell’s. Honeywell, the maker of XtraTuf boots, is helping sponsor the event and all prize winners will be provided with a new pair of XtraTuf boots (Honeywell is providing 50 pairs of boots). The Sitka Local Foods Network will host a Sitka Farmers Market booth with fresh veggies for sale. The booth will be able to take debit cards, WIC vouchers and Quest cards.

“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. “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 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 (2008-11) is online at http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/ (type Running of the Boots into the search bar at the top of the page).

• 2012 Running of the Boots flier (feel free to print a few copies and post them around town)

• Big crowd joins Running of the Boots to support Sitka Local Foods Network

High school exchange students dressed as aliens won the best group costume category in the costume contest

High school exchange students dressed as aliens won the best group costume category in the costume contest

Despite a heavy downpour before the race, about 200 people showed up the Crescent Harbor Shelter on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2009, for the 15th annual Running of the Boots, a fundraiser for the Sitka Local Foods Network. The event was part of the second annual Summer’s End Celebration hosted by the Greater Sitka Chamber of Commerce and the Alaska Cruiseline Association.

Many of the runners showed up in costume, including green-headed aliens, pirates, fairy princesses and even a young frog. Others wore enough heavy rain gear so they looked more like ancient mariners than runners. While there was a little bit of a race, the event was all about fun, with a lip-synch event and blues band to spice things up. And we even had a table to sell Sitka Farmers Market produce, and Keri Fish brought along her crepe-making booth.

Click here to view a photo gallery from the 15th annual Running of the Boots. The Sitka Local Foods Network appreciates everybody who participated in this fundraiser. Our next event will be to host an informational table at the Wild and Scenic Film Festival on Saturday, Oct. 24, at the Sitka Performing Arts Center and hosted by the Sitka Conservation Society. Booths open at 6 p.m. and the movies start at 6:30 p.m. We look forward to seeing you there.

A pack of kids takes off at the start of the 2009 Running of the Boots on Sept. 26

A pack of kids takes off at the start of the 2009 Running of the Boots on Sept. 26

Sitka sunbathers huddle up before the race

Sitka sunbathers huddle up before the race

The Three Moo-sketeers

The Three Moo-sketeers

Young runners all dressed up and ready to run. The boy on the left had the fastest boots on Saturday

Young runners all dressed up and ready to run. The boy on the left had the fastest boots on Saturday