Alaska Salmon Runs set for July 14

There’s a distance for every athletic level

Competitors in the 2017 Alaska Salmon Runs half-marathon. Photo by Bree Mills

“Why do you run?”  Seeing a runner loping along the side of the road often leads me to wonder, “What’s your inspiration for running today?”

Of course, each runner or walker has their own reason. For some, it’s for exercise, and a time to gab with friends and get the dog out. Maybe to be able to have the occasional ice cream treat.  For others, running has been likened to meditation, or a chance to literally jog some new ideas.  Another reason is that it’s a chance to buy new shoes!

Humpy 5K runners Alana Esguerra and Ria Smyke, first and second place female finishers in 2017.
Photo by Bree Mills

The Alaska Salmon Runs is a great day to get out for 30 minutes, an hour, or longer for a walk or a run.  June is here, the lupine lining the Copper River Highway are starting to bloom, and that means it’s time to get out on the road and start training. There’s a distance for everyone at the Alaska Salmon Runs, from the Smolt One Mile Fun Run/Walk on up to the King Salmon Marathon of 26.2 miles. You’ll probably see the Cordova High School cross-country runners in the Humpy 5K (3.1 miles) or Coho 10K (6.2 miles), and more distance runners (and some walkers) in the Sockeye Half-Marathon, 13.1 miles.

If you start gearing up now you have lots time to build up your running distances, doing all those shorter runs that are the building blocks for longer (some say scarier) distances.  Lots of people are intimidated by running because they think you have to run every day.  And that’s a sure road to burn-out. You can run three or four times a week and build up great conditioning.  Alternating days gives your body a chance to recover, or occasionally do some cross-training like walking, weights, swimming or yoga.

If you’re currently not running at all, start with walking 15 minutes and running for five. When you feel like increasing your running time, run in five-minute intervals, and walk for a minute in between running periods.

2017 Alaska Salmon Runs Humpy 5K winner Rich Wheeler. Photo by Bree Mills

July 14 is the big day this year, and registration at Bidarki will begin July 1. You can register at Bidarki before the race (preferred) or register the morning of the race for all distances except the marathon. We’ll have the post-race salmon barbecue potluck dinner up at Mt. Eyak Ski Hill starting at 5 p.m., $10/person or bring a dish and get in for free.  Also happening that evening is the Taste of Cordova (wild food cook-off) at 7 p.m. and Salmon Jam music starting at 6 p.m. (see full weekend schedule at


And you’ll get an awesome t-shirt if you run or walk in the Alaska Salmon Runs – isn’t that a good reason to join the fun?

As Alaska Salmon Runs founder Irene Webber says, “See you on the road!”

Kristin Carpenter is the executive director of the Copper River Watershed Council and Alaska Salmon Runs Race coordinator.

2017 Smolt One Mile Fun Run/Walk participants Sierra Westing, Kate Arduser, Annika Arduser and Anja Arduser.
Photo by Bree Mills