Runners and walkers leave the starting line at the "Only Fools Run at Midnight" event Sunday morning, June 22 in front of the State Office Building.
From left to right, Greek gods Poseidon, Zeus, Artemis, Athena and Bacchus, all in statue form, pose during the costume contest at Centennial Hall. Athena said the five friends like Greek myths' historical roots and ideals.
This pair of runners wore Barbie-themed costumes during the Only Fools Run early Sunday morning, June 22.
Story last updated at 6/25/2014 - 2:14 pm
It might not have been under the midnight sun, but Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka's solstice twilight was more than enough for the hundreds of people who ran in Southeast Alaska Independent Living's (SAIL's) annual fundraising events this year.
Participants in "Only Fools Run at Midnight" ranged from young Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to 91-year-old Tlingit elder Martha Benzel, who has been participating in the event off and on since 1993. People dressed up and ran, walked or wheeled a mile or five kilometers in costumes including Greek god statues, Barbies in a box, superheroes in tutus, My Little Ponies, floss and toothpaste, a leopard-print thong, and a cardboard airplane.
Before SAIL took the Juneau event over, it was run by the Juneau Fire Department.
"It's slowly gotten bigger over the years," said SAIL's ORCA program director Tristan Knutson-Lombardo. Even more people just join in at the last minute, he said, running along with the crazily clad.
Every year around 700 people participate in the event in Juneau, and 500 between Ketchikan and Sitka, Knutson-Lombardo said. It was the 11th year for both Ketchikan and Sitka, and the 12th since SAIL has been organizing it in Juneau.
"It indirectly educates people," said Larry O'Keefe, who is involved with the program through his wife, Joan O'Keefe, SAIL's executive director. "They get a good idea of what's going on."
SAIL helps people with transportation, finding jobs and home modifications (for example, making a home wheelchair-accessible). It offers offers support groups, the ORCA program (Outdoor Recreation and Community Access), and more.
Its mission is to inspire personal independence, something on display in a slide show during the pre-race costume contest.
The event is one of SAIL's largest fund-raising events, behind their fall auction but still "nothing to sneeze at," Knutson-Lombardo said.
"The goal is that it gets our name out to people who might not have otherwise heard of SAIL," he said.
The organization distributed prizes for best costume, to the fastest runner, for the best centipede, and more.
"It's awesome," said tutu superhero Lindsey Long of the event. "I like the creativity."
"I enjoy it, and it's for a good cause," 91-year-old Martha Benzel said. "It gives me something to look forward to."
"She adapts and keeps going, which is what SAIL is all about," added her daughter, Sandi Benzel.