ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The Alaska Run for Women is planning to hold its 19th annual event this Saturday. Despite nearly two decades as a local tradition, each year there’s a big last-minute push to get women and girls to sign up -- especially with this year’s goal set at 10,000 runners.
The Run for Women is one of the largest women-only runs in the nation, and this year organizers hope to make it even bigger. There's no signup fee, only a request for donations to a cause that's close to the hearts of many women across the country.
Margy Johnson has a great sense of humor, a real passion for life -- and constant reminders of why you should make the most of it.
“Gotta do it; you can't not have a smile on your face,” Johnson said. “Cancer’s a very, very personal thing to me; I lost a brother to cancer, one sister, and my other sister’s very ill with cancer.”
It became even more personal when Johnson was diagnosed with cancer herself four years ago.
“When you get the news, it’s like a brick upside the head,” Johnson said. “It’s a long and winding road, cancer – it’s filled with many twist and turns.”
With many steps on the road to recovery, Johnson says the key is staying active and fighting back.
“In the old days the common wisdom was, ‘Oh, you poor dear, you have cancer? Go home, put your feet up,’ but we just don't believe that any more.”
Keeping up her activity level is one reason why Johnson competes in the Run for Women. Last year more than 7,000 women entered the race, which has grown from 700 athletes at its inaugural event in 1993.
“It’s a very emotional day,” said Run for Women organizer Kathy Wisthoff. “It's a happy day, and I think that most people are touched by breast cancer -- if they don't have breast cancer themselves, they know somebody who has it, and they're out there to support those people.”
It's a race for hardcore runners, leisurely walkers, mothers and daughters, sisters and friends. While many women participate, Wisthoff says not one of them pays a fee.
“We are donation-based, only we don't charge a fee,” Wisthoff said. “Everybody donates whatever they can, and every dollar raised goes toward breast-cancer awareness, early detection, support programs.”
In addition, the donations supports people like Margy Johnson and her fight against cancer, who says she’ll see people on race day.
“Look for me -- I've got a pink boa!” Johnson said.
Contact Rebecca Palsha at firstname.lastname@example.org