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Leaves crunch underfoot in cross country jamborees

Elementary students getting ready to race at one of Anchorage's fall jamborees.

By Cindy Norquest

It’s that time of year again — time for the cross country jamborees for Anchorage elementary schools! Picture fallen leaves that crunch underfoot , the sound of thousands of little feet pounding the paths, and hundreds of happy smiles. You can understand why this is one of the most popular events for kids.

So what exactly are the Jamborees?

Hosted by the Anchorage School District and Healthy Futures, the elementary cross country jamborees are a FREE opportunity for all K-6 grade youth—no matter their abilities — to experience cross country running and walking in a noncompetitive environment.  Distances depend on age, but vary from a half-mile for the younger kids to one mile for the older kids. The atmosphere is family-friendly , where parents are encouraged to stay around to cheer on the last child crossing the finish line.

To prepare students for the jamborees, many elementary school PE and health teachers volunteer their time to coach cross country practices, and they send Jamboree registration information home with their students.
While same-day registration is available, students are encouraged to register for their designated jamboree through their school. Schools are assigned a specific jamboree to attend based on geographic location. While students are encouraged to attend their school’s designated jamboree, the students can participate in the jamboree of their choice if scheduling conflicts arise.

The three jamborees take place on the following dates and times:

  • Beach Lake Trails Jamboree at Chugiak High School, September 19 from 5 to 7:45 p.m.  It serves all schools located in Eagle River, Birchwood and Chugiak.
  • North Anchorage Jamboree at East High School, September 20 from 5 to 7:45 p.m. It serves all schools located north of Tudor Road.
  • South Anchorage Jamboree at Service High School, September 28 from 9:30 a.m. to noon. It serves all schools located south of Tudor Road.

Visit for additional information regarding the jamborees and other family-friendly community events. Please talk to your PE or health teacher for registration information.

See you on the trails!

Cindy Norquest is the program director for Healthy Futures, the signature program of the nonprofit Alaska Sports Hall of Fame. Healthy Futures has been promoting and encouraging childhood physical activity since 2003. For more information, visit