UAA athletes volunteer at local jamboree

The North Anchorage Jamboree is one of the three city-wide initiatives to get children active and has recently celebrated its 34th birthday. Hosted by the Anchorage School District and Healthy Futures, it is a free event offered to elementary school students, ranging from kindergarten to sixth grade.

Family and friends waiting at the finish line during the third and fourth grade boys cross country race. Photo credit: Jay Guzman

The jamboree took place at Bartlett High School on Sept. 20 and allowed runners to take advantage of the running trails around the school. Benjamin Elbow, coordinator for the North Anchorage Jamboree, majored in sociology and is currently the physical education teacher at Rogers Park Elementary.

“We’re just trying get kids out running,” Elbow said. “Trying to encourage healthy lifestyles, getting families out here. The kindergarteners, first and second graders just run a half mile course. [For] the fourth, fifth and sixth graders, it’s a mile, so it’s not a very long race, and that’s what we want… Making it an enjoyable, positive healthy process.”

Schools and families throughout the Anchorage and Eagle River area have been turning out every year to participate.

“The way these jamborees are organized is there’s three of them: one in Eagle River, called The Beach Lake Jamboree for the Eagle River schools. This is called the North Anchorage Jamboree,” Elbow said. “Any school that’s north of Tudor Road comes here. Then, this Saturday at Service High, there will be the third jamboree which is the South Jamboree, and that’s for every elementary school south of Tudor Road.”

Fifth and sixth grade girls begin their one mile race during the ASD’s North Anchorage Cross Country Jamboree event at Bartlett High School on Sept. 20. Photo credit: Jay Guzman

UAA runners from the cross country and track and field team, D’Rhema Alston, Elena Cano and Kate Kirby, were among the thousands of people who showed up for the North Anchorage Jamboree.

“We want to get kids pumped up about our favorite sport,” Kirby said.

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Volunteering is something that UAA athletes don’t shy away from, but it can be hard to incorporate into their busy schedules once the sports season starts.

Amongst their busy schedules, both men and women’s cross country teams have recently been ranked by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association after their successful performance at the UNLV invite in Las Vegas. The men’s team, which has been ranked fourth in regional polls, and the women’s team, ranked second, will have a month to prepare for the western Washington invite at the end of October.

The athletes are still in pre-season but will be back in action starting in january. for more into and a full schedule visit