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Play Every Day Blog > Posts > Running Jamborees are back: Popular free fun runs return for Alaska elementary students


September 12
Running Jamborees are back: Popular free fun runs return for Alaska elementary students
Thousands of Alaska elementary students will be running through the wooded trails during September's running events.

SEPTEMBER 12, 2022 — After a two-year break due to pandemic challenges, Anchorage Running Jamborees are back.

In September, thousands of Alaska elementary students will be running through the wooded trails during the annual Cross Country Running Jamborees and similar fun runs. The Anchorage School District (ASD) is organizing three Running Jamborees. The North Star Borough School District in Fairbanks is holding two more races for elementary school students before the month ends.

The free Jamborees in Anchorage have been a fall tradition for about three decades but were not held in fall 2020 when school was virtual or fall 2021, when there was a wave of increasing numbers of Covid-19 infections. This year, race organizers are ready to invite children back to the trails.

“The Anchorage School District’s physical education teachers are excited to welcome our young runners back to the Elementary Cross Country Running Jamborees!” said Melanie Sutton, the district’s health and physical education curriculum coordinator.  “The crunch of the leaves underfoot on the trail, the crisp autumn breeze on your face and the sheer joy of movement — does it get any better than that? We are looking forward to seeing the huge smiles as the runners cross the finish line to the cheers of their families.” 

Alaska school districts work with the Healthy Futures program, the Play Every Day campaign​, local athletes, and others to organize the fall running races in Anchorage and Fairbanks. All participants at the races will receive a Healthy Futures pin or medal when they reach the finish line, said Matias Saari, event coordinator for Healthy Futures.

While supporting these Jamborees, Saari’s program is also running the free Fall Healthy Futures Challenge in about 110 elementary schools across the state. Participating kids track their physical activity on simple logs and win prizes for staying active during September, October and November. Parents can find out if their child’s elementary school is signed up by visiting the Healthy Futures website.

Dates, times and locations for Anchorage Jamborees

The Anchorage School District Health and Physical Education (PE) Department is organizing several Jamborees in North Anchorage, South Anchorage and the Beach Lake area of Eagle River. Elementary students will run different distances, depending on their ages. The race course length ranges from about ½ mile to 1½ miles.

Race organizers request that runners bring their own water bottles to the event. Thirsty runners and their families will be able to drink water from multiple fountains and water bottle fill-up taps on a special “H2O 2GO” trailer from Anchorage Water & Wastewater Utility (AWWU).

Below are the locations, dates and times for the upcoming Anchorage Cross Country Running Jamborees. For each race location, the first race for kindergarten students will start at 5:30 p.m. Races for additional grade levels will continue through 8 p.m. or until the last runner crosses the finish line.

  • South Anchorage Jamboree — Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022

The Jamboree will be held at the trails near Service High School.
Learn more: Contact David Hall, Chinook Elementary PE teacher, at

  • Beach Lake (Eagle River) Jamboree — Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022

The Jamboree will be held at the Chugiak High School trails. 
Learn more: Contact Caela Nielsen, Ravenwood Elementary PE teacher, at

  • North Anchorage Jamboree — Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022

The Jamboree will be held at the trails near Bartlett High School.
Learn more: Contact Benjamin Elbow, PE teacher at Rogers Park and North Star elementary schools, at

Elementary students can attend any of the Anchorage Jamborees, regardless of where they live or where their elementary schools are located. Parents are encouraged to pre-register their children for the Jamborees at their schools. All children must have a signed waiver before participating in the event. Ask your child’s PE teacher for more information about the Anchorage Jamboree in your area.

The Anchorage Jamborees will wrap up by the end of September, but Anchorage parents and children will have weekly opportunities to keep running or walking as a family through the end of October. The popular Tuesday Night Race series begins Sept. 13, 2022, at Kincaid Park. The series continues on different trail systems throughout Anchorage every Tuesday through Oct. 25, 2022.

Dates, times and locations for Fairbanks running events

Two elementary schools in the North Star Borough School District are hosting running races during the remainder of the month. Each race will be timed and ribbons will be given to top finishers, Saari said.

  • Salcha Elementary School — Thursday, Sept. 15, starting at 5:30 p.m.
  • Chena Lakes Recreation Area — Thursday, Sept. 22, starting at 5:30 p.m. This event is hosted by Watershed School.

Race organizers note that parking will be limited so students are encouraged to use either carpools or available buses to get to each race. For more information about Fairbanks events, contact Norm Davis at  

Photograph courtesy of Healthy Futures