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Alaska Run for Women hits the streets virtually for the second straight year

Updated: Jun. 12, 2021 at 8:08 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Women from across Alaska have laced up their sneakers as they take off again to fight breast cancer.

Organizers of the annual Alaska Run for Women say just over 3,000 people are taking part in this year’s event. All 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, are represented, along with 61 communities around Alaska.

This year marks the 29th edition of the run, and its second straight that is taking place virtually. Organizers said they had no choice.

“Our decision has to be made pretty early in the year, just because of how large our event is. It takes so much planning, we had to make the call as early as January or February,” said Kathy Wisthoff, one of the co-founders of the Alaska Run for Women. “We couldn’t know what the circumstances were going to be like come June.”

Circumstances due to possible COVID-19 restrictions that might have been in place in Anchorage. The decision to go virtual also left organizers with another potential challenge.

“We weren’t sure if people would be burned out on the whole virtual event idea. But we’ve been pleasantly surprised at the turnout,” Wisthoff said.

It’s paying off for her and other organizers. Wisthoff said participants have already raised $140,000. That’s nearly $2,500 more compared to a year ago. That money will go to the Alaska Run for Women grant program. It supports breast cancer awareness, education and research programs, with a minimum of 70 percent of the funds raised staying in Alaska.

60 women in Alaska are projected to die from breast cancer this year according to the American Cancer Society. At the same time, 520 women are expected to be diagnosed with it.

Anchorage’s April Powers is a 13-year breast cancer survivor. She’s also the first of eight new honorary starters for each of the eight days of this year’s run. That number refers to the statistic from Breastcancer.org that predicts 1-in-8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.

Meanwhile, organizers of the Alaska Run for Women are not ruling out having next year’s run take place in person. Even though participants are still apart, they have come together again to fight breast cancer.

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