Seawolves of all skill levels run in a pack at the Spirit Run

The Spirit Run is a UAA Weeks of Welcome tradition. Faculty, students, staff, alumni and the general public attend to participate in a community-based 5K. The run begins and ends under a bright arch at the Alaska Airlines Center plaza.

Runners leave the Spirit Run’s starting line at the Alaska Airlines Center. Photo by Christina Swayney.

This year, 18 runners completed the race across the Chester Creek trail. The men’s basketball team was stationed along the path to ensure the safety of runners.

The 5K opened with warm-up stretches, exercises and line dancing. Many runners took this as an opportunity to sport their exclusive spirit socks. The neon, athletic logo socks are not available for purchase at the UAA Bookstore, as they are only ordered for special events like the Spirit Run.

Student Life and Leadership coordinates the Spirit Run annually.

“We’re trying to get more people to participate [in the Spirit Run],” Kim Morton, director of Student Life and Leadership, said. “I was concerned that [the air quality could be an issue this year]. I think we had a pretty good turnout for what we were expecting.”

Morton estimated that the fastest runner would take 25 minutes to complete the 5K and that the slowest would take an hour. The competitors exceeded expectations.

Jason Burkhead, associate professor of biological sciences, took first place with a runtime of 17 minutes.

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Burkhead chugged a bottle of water immediately after crossing the finish line, citing the smoky air as the cause for his breathlessness. Burkhead did not know what his runtime was initially and was surprised at his own speed.

“I had to run,” Burkhead said. “A student was chasing me down and I had to beat him.”

Burkhead and the student exchanged friendly glances and laughed together at this statement.

“I’m happy everyone came out,” Burkhead said. “The course was great, it was fun. It’s all part of supporting UAA.”

The last person to cross the finish line took half the time Morton had estimated. Victoria Hillwig, the executive assistant to the Provost, finished at 10:37 a.m. with a runtime of 36 minutes.

“[I feel] accomplished,” Hillwig said. “We were close to the end of the pack, so I was mainly just hanging out with friends and having a good time on a nice autumn day. It was just refreshing to be out.”

A runner crosses the finish line at UAA’s Spirit Run on Aug. 31. Photo by Christina Swayney.

Every person who crossed the finish line, from first to last, was welcomed with a round of applause and cheers from all in attendance. The runners were united in their smiles, sweat and spirit socks.

Morton expressed her desire for feedback from the runners and anyone interested in assisting with the Spirit Run. Contact Student Life and Leadership at (907)-786-1215 or [email protected]