Beat the Odds Race Against Cancer fundraiser took off Saturday morning

    Walkers make their way into the woods. (Photo courtesy of Jasz Garrett/KINY)

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Beat the Odds, Cancer Connection's biggest fundraising event of the year, took place Saturday morning from 9 am to 11 am.

    Beat the Odds Race Against Cancer was located at Kax̱digoowú Héen Elementary School, previously known as Riverbend Elementary School.

    People currently struggling with cancer whether it be themselves, a family member, or a friend, came to participate in the race.

    Jake Hamilton talked about participating in the race for the first time.

    "Lots of smiles and a lot of laughs. We had a fun time. I did the race. It was nice, the sun came out. A lot of people pushing themselves, and everyone kind of pushed together. I've had people in my life, one of my best friends passed away from cancer a few years back, and it was really hard. But, this was my first time ever doing this, and I'm thinking of him a lot. It's in a positive light. It's a beautiful thing; everyone can harness their energy and their traumas through running and being supportive."

    Community members not personally affected by cancer also raced to show their support.

    Shawn Miller, a timekeeper and runner for Beat the Odds, talked about the event.

    "This race has been going on for a number of years, used to be the breast cancer and the prostate cancer run. Then it all got combined just to Beat the Odds Cancer Run. And seeing the incredible turnout going back for many years has been very uplifting, especially with the community that we have. It's very supportive for people that have to go through cancer and also those that are very ingrained with the athletic community."

    Miller shared about the history of the race.

    "I think this has been going on at least since the 90s. I believe the race used to be held at the Mendenhall River School area, and then it got moved over here to accommodate for a larger turnout and larger parking and facilities. But it's been a very consistent race year in, year out. Minus a year or two because of the pandemic."

    Miller talked about his role.

    "I am working as a timer for the 5k run. I've been involved with the running portion for many years, either as a runner or as a volunteer. And with this being one of the races that's on the Juneau Trail and Road Runners calendar, it's a blessing to be able to participate in some way shape or form."

    Miller said participants could choose to run or walk.

    "One of the great things about the Beat the Odds is having both the 5k run and the two-mile walk. Both starting and finishing at the same locations but taking different routes so that we can get the maximum amount of turnout possible, while still giving people the opportunity to participate in either distance. Again, either walk or run depending on what they prefer to do."

    Miller also mentioned how the community can contribute and thanked Juneau for the support.

    "The door prizes have been a very nice feature for many years. It's been very great to see people realizing that this is a fundraiser and basically an awareness event. But the fact that organizations are providing door prizes is just a great way for everyone to get involved, whether it's an individual or a community or an actual business organization, finding some way to contribute overall. So in my mind, everyone is benefiting with contribution regardless of what level it's at."

    Above: Connor Owens, the first-place runner in the 5k finished in 20 minutes and 27 seconds. The second place was 20 minutes and 35 seconds, and the third place was 21 minutes and 2 seconds. Below: Walkers begin their 2-mile walk.

    Above and below: Triumphant runners pass the finish line.

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