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Tuesday Night Race series brings fall fitness and fun to everyone

Rain puddles, fallen leaves, good friends — sometimes even fresh snow — make every Bonny Sosa Tuesday Night Race a joyful run for everyone. The cross country race series takes place on city trails at 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays, September 10 to November 5.

What began 46 years ago as a training program for the Alaska Methodist College (APU) ski team now draws people of all ages and goals. Over 1,300

people showed up opening night last year, and the number of kids crossing the finish line keeps climbing.

The Healthy Futures effort to get kids active has grown the Munchkin league, which features the youngest racers and families, said Margaret Timmerman, recreation programmer for Anchorage Parks and Recreation. "In 1997, when I started, Munchkins would number under 75 runners. Now the numbers average 500 to 600."

Healthy Futures is an Alaska-based initiative founded in 2003 by the late Bonny Sosa and Sam Young to inspire and provide opportunities for Alaska’s children to play every day. Elementary school students who sign up for the Healthy Futures Challenge through their schools can record their physical activity in Munchkin runs of 1 to 2 miles long as part of their weekly Challenge goal. Racers in the recreational and competitive leagues navigate longer, twisting courses.

Whatever the distance, race walkers and runners, babes in backpacks and grandfathers in tow never know the course until race time, adding yet another element of surprise to the already unpredictable weather and terrain. Remarkably, only two Tuesday Night races have been cancelled in 46 years, said Timmerman, once due to staff illness and once last September due to high winds.

Timmerman offered this advice to newcomers and old timers alike: Get to the race early to secure parking, get to the starting line before 6:30 p.m., "and don’t ever complain to me that a child or stroller was in your way."

The Tuesday Night Race series takes place Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. September 10 to November 5, 2013 at Kincaid Park, Albrecht Fields and Service High School.

Here’s how you and your family can join the fun:

  • Print the 2013 race poster as a reminder of dates and locations.
  • Register online by 12:30 p.m. each race day. Online race fees are $2 for kids, $5 for adults, and $10 for families, with season passes available at $16 for youth, $30 for adults, and $60 for families.
  • Onsite registration will take place before the first three races only, with fees set at $5 for kids, $10 for adults, and $20 for families.
  • Race day check in runs from 5:30 to 6:10 p.m.
  • The races start at 6:30 p.m.
  • A drawing for a pair of running shoes will happen at the end of every race for those who turn in their finish cards.
  • The race series finishes with a final race and awards ceremony on Nov. 5.