A group of visitors runs a guerrilla 5k before Beerfest on Saturday, May 25, 2024, in Haines, Alaska. (Rashah McChesney/Chilkat Valley News)
A group of visitors runs a guerrilla 5k before Beerfest on Saturday, May 25, 2024, in Haines, Alaska. (Rashah McChesney/Chilkat Valley News)

A handful of people drawn to Haines for Beerfest kicked off their Saturday by hosting an informal 5-kilometer run through town. 

In years past, hundreds of runners turned out for the Slammin’ Salmon 5K and 10K as part of the weekend’s festivities – but that tradition fell by the wayside during the COVID-19 pandemic and has yet to be revived. 

Amanda Randles, executive director of the Southeast Alaska State Fair which generally coordinates the run, said the two previous directors were into running or athletic training and kept the tradition alive. 

“After COVID everything fell away, especially things that were a cost to us and races aren’t money-makers generally speaking,” she said. 

The plan was to bring back the race this year, with a former executive director organizing it – but that fell through. 

“I would love to have someone who wants to organize it,” Randles said. “I have the t-shirts actually, we ordered all the t-shirts because we thought it was going to happen this year.” 

Nina Lundstrom and Michael Kauzmann were among the group of runners who decided to revive the tradition this year. 

Lundstrom said they met friends of friends and got pulled into the run casually. “I believe they said, “We’re running a 5k tomorrow,’ and we said “Oh, the official 5k? And they said ‘sure.” 

Kauzmann, who described himself as “not a runner,” said the draw for this particular activity was meeting people who were so excited to be doing it. “

The five people who ran wore custom bibs. Lundstrom’s was number 1959. 

“The year the State of Alaska [was created],” she said.

“I was 777,” said Kauzmann. “There was also infinity, and 69, 420. Oh and Tina, the number Tina. The number that was the name Tina.”  

Each bib had the slogan “Run Slow, Drink Fast” printed on it. 

Run organizer Sydney Hughes is a traveling dietitian who lives in Juneau. She described herself as something of a 5k enthusiast.  She said this is her third time coming to Haines for Beerfest. 

“It’s the best weekend of the summer,” she said. 

The two said the racers ran slightly longer than they expected. 

“We did 3.6 miles,” Highest said. “We had to go downtown, you know, parade ourselves a bit.” 

The group started at the Aspen Hotel, ran north and then cut through the fairgrounds before ducking into the woods and following the CIA trails. 

Hughes said there was a good response from people in town, as lots of people waved. And, a Canadian man on a recovery run decided to join them. 

Ryan Phelan, of Montana, helped Hughes organize the race. He said the run was a highlight of his festival weekend. 

“It makes me feel better about drinking the night before and drinking later [Saturday] if you go on a 5k,” he said. 

Hughes said she’d be happy to coordinate an official run if no one else steps up. 

“For sure, just call me,” she said.