A fundraiser run benefiting a nonprofit focused on preserving and protecting Eldred Rock Lighthouse, seen in this photo, will be a virtual event this year. Runners can complete a course located on Pioneer Road on Douglas at any time April 12-18 and submit their results electronically.(Courtesy Photo | Eldred Rock Lighthouse Preservation Association)

A fundraiser run benefiting a nonprofit focused on preserving and protecting Eldred Rock Lighthouse, seen in this photo, will be a virtual event this year. Runners can complete a course located on Pioneer Road on Douglas at any time April 12-18 and submit their results electronically.(Courtesy Photo | Eldred Rock Lighthouse Preservation Association)

Lighthouse-protecting nonprofit isn’t running out of fundraising ideas

Amid pandemic Run 4 the Rock race goes virtual

With virtually every other event canceled or postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic, the nonprofit focused on restoring and preserving Alaska’s oldest original lighthouse decided to make its fundraising race a virtual one.

Eldred Rock Preservation Association’s Run 4 the Rock Fog Horn Race will allow participants to run either a 2K hill climb, a 5K course or a 10K course anytime April 12-18. The courses on Pioneer Road will be marked off before Saturday, said ERLPA Executive Director and race coordinator Sue York. Runners will time themselves running their selected and submit their times via email or text.

[Alaska’s oldest lighthouse is in desperate need of repairs]

“Our organization is based out of Haines. With the Southeast Alaska Fair most likely being canceled, we’re trying to focus on fundraisers we can do,” York said. “We decided not to cancel and do it virtually.”

She said the decision to still hold an event at all was made to keep some form on fundraising happening for the organization and care was taken to make sure the event could happen while the state’s social distancing guidelines are observed.

“The Pioneer Road really is a wonderful trail,” York said. “It’s a wide road, and sometimes when you’re on trails, and it’s single-track, it’s hard to encounter people and get around people and keep the six feet.”

To compete, people can find a registration form online at https://juneauserr.wixsite.com/serr and send the completed form by email to slyak3@yahoo.com or by text message to 907-255-3662. Registration costs $15 for adults, $5 for students and people under 5 can run for free. Folks can pay at paypal.me/eldredrocklighthouse.

York said people who wish to support the cause but would prefer to stay home can also make donations to that PayPal account.

She said funds raised by the run will be earmarked for matching grant applications that can be used to preserve and restore the lighthouse built in 1905 in northern Lynn Canal.

York said being able to apply for such grants is a relatively new development that’s allowed by a lease agreement between ERLPA and the U.S. Coast Guard Civil Engineering Unit.

The Coast Guard owns the lighthouse but is unable to dedicate time or funds to restore it, York said.

York said the lease agreement is for five years and can be renewed up to four times. It is a zero-cost agreement, she said.

“This lease agreement allows us to start applying for these grants to actually go out and do projects out there,” York said.

She said the lease agreement would not have been possible without the support of the Marine Exchange of Alaska, a Juneau-based organization that tracks and monitors ships that go through Alaska waters.

York said the support of Marine Exchange’s founder and Executive Director Capt. Ed Page, who retired from the Coast Guard, was invaluable.

“The Marine Exchange is involved in maritime safety throughout Alaska and we too appreciate the role lighthouses have played in the past and we are using lighthouses to install our weather and vessel tracking equipment because they are strategically placed in locations that are hazardous to mariners,” Page said in a release from ERLPA. “The Coast Guard no longer has the funds to maintain these buildings they no longer have a need for. Nonprofits like Marine Exchange and ERLPA see the value of these historic properties and are taking on the role of maintaining them so that they can be available to the public to visit and have an appreciation for the role they played in maritime history.”

York, who previously worked for the Coast Guard, emphasized that the goal of her organization is to be collaborative while fixing and protecting the old lighthouse.

“We want to work with the Coast Guard to save this lighthouse,” York said. “Our goal is to help the Coast Guard and do something they can’t do fiscally.”

• Contact Ben Hohenstatt at (907)308-4895 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt

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