Runners take off from the starting line of the 35th annual Only Fools Run at Midnight at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. The event included a costume contest and 1-mile and 5-kilometer run/walk/wheelchair. (Nolin Ainsworth | Juneau Empire)

Runners take off from the starting line of the 35th annual Only Fools Run at Midnight at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. The event included a costume contest and 1-mile and 5-kilometer run/walk/wheelchair. (Nolin Ainsworth | Juneau Empire)

Emojis and caterpillars: Fools run attracts eclectic crowd

Popular race brings out creative costumes

Halloween may still be over a month away, but that didn’t stop 12-year-old Cerys Hudson from dressing up in a costume, staying up past her bedtime and digging into some sweets.

The Juneau seventh-grader was one of more than 60 runners and walkers — about half of which were children — who gathered Saturday night for the 35th annual Only Fools Run at Midnight event. Hudson and four friends completed the downtown race in matching yellow T-shirts — each one displaying a different emoji facial expression — and tutus, one of the varied and custom costumes donned at the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska fundraiser.

“Staying up until after midnight is really fun,” said Hudson, who added her normal weekend bedtime is 10:30 p.m. She was wearing a starry-eyed smiling emoji.

The event, which typically runs on or near the summer solstice, raised money for Tlingit & Haida’s Alumni Scholarship program. It’s the tribal government’s second time hosting the race. Tlingit & Haida also hosted the 2017 Fools run.

“We’re just trying to continue the tradition of this race,” Sarah Dybdahl, CCTHIA’s Cultural Heritage and Education Director, said. “At least the years I’ve lived here, it’s been one of those fun opportunities for families to get out and enjoy (each other) and do something to support a good cause. It seems that it’s something our community looks forward to and we just want to provide that opportunity.”

Dybdahl said the tribe hopes to hold the race in June next year. The reason it wasn’t in June this year is because of the extra work it took to take it on again.

“The Very Hungry Caterpillar” team poses at a photo booth inside Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall prior to the running of the 35th annual Only Fools Run at Midnight. (Nolin Ainsworth | Juneau Empire)

“The Very Hungry Caterpillar” team poses at a photo booth inside Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall prior to the running of the 35th annual Only Fools Run at Midnight. (Nolin Ainsworth | Juneau Empire)

A majority of participants showed up an hour or more ahead of the 11:59 p.m. race start on Willoughby Avenue for the costume contest, which included a “centipede” category for five or more connected individuals. The Hungry Caterpillar team went over the top with its centipede submission, roping 13 synchronized skating teammates together. Melissa Fritsch, whose twin daughters Meredith and Katherine made up part of the caterpillar, said the team drew inspiration from the popular children’s book “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.”

The team is training for a skating competition in November, Fritsch said.

“They’ve been doing a lot of different team-building activities … a lot of things that aren’t necessarily on the ice,” Fritsch said.


• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or nainsworth@juneauempire.com.


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