Around 1,000 runners gathered at the Mountian View Lions Park on Saturday for the Faster Than a Falcon 5K Run. The race let runners of all ages chase down the Clark Middle School mascot — a six-foot blue falcon in a t-shirt and running shoes.
Before the race, kids ran through the playground while people stretched and families mulled around. An after school running program for girls had a station where kids could get their hair spray-dyed and faces painted. Despite the cloudy day, people seemed to be in good spirits.
When the race started, runners poured after the mascot. Enthusiastic kids overtook the big blue bird, as anyone who beat the falcon got a prize. The course circled through the adjacent neighborhood and cadets from the Alaska Military Youth Academy were posted along the route, encouraging runners and keeping them on course.
It wasn’t long before the first runner finished. The falcon eventually showed up on the final stretch. Apparently not the competitive type, the bird stopped before the finish, giving high fives to runners as they passed him.
The race was founded in 2010 by Clark Middle School guidance counselor Dustin Hawes. The proceeds go to the Mountain View Community Center Boys and Girls Club, specifically their free basketball league.
Manager of the club, David Barney said that they’re “just trying to fill in the gaps.” He thinks that one of the main issues facing these kids is trying to keep them engaged in something positive.
“Schools are wonderful and great, but you go to school and it’s like a job…. They need that social development. They need to work out their own problems and just have opportunities that they wouldn’t have otherwise experienced,” Barney said.
According to Jennifer Brown, the Director of Development and Communications for the Boys and Girls Clubs in Alaska, around 250 kids take part in the program and race funds will be used for jerseys and referees. She said via email that since it began, the race has generated about $10,000 annually.
She said programs like these positively engage kids who would otherwise be unsupervised and unoccupied.
“That is the time that kids are most likely to become involved with crime, be victims of crimes or engage in other risky behaviors,” Brown said.
Barney thinks the best way to keep kids out of trouble is just being there, whether that’s being someone they can count on for advice or providing an environment that’s comfortable enough for them to feel like they can open up.
“They don’t realize it man, but the situations and the decisions that they’re making can have an impact on their entire lives,” Barney said.
Sponsors of the event include: Boot Bomb, Enstar Natural Gas, Anchorage Running Club, Skinny Raven Sports, Alyeska Resort, Mountain View Family Dentistry, Kittiwake Alaskan Apparel and Cook Inlet Housing Authority.