Unalaskans turn out for an active running/racing schedule most of the year no matter the weather. In fact, the season officially gets started with the 5K Polar Bear Run in late February, when the average temp is still hovering around 32 degrees.
Events range from mild to technically challenging, and most also offer shorter versions for the kids. For more details or registration information, contact the Unalaska Department of Parks, Culture and Recreation.
5K Polar Bear Run
You won’t freeze if you keep moving – and you can test this statement yourself during Unalaska’s 5k Polar Bear Run through snow, ice and frosty air in February. The race starts on Front Beach Road, where even in freezing temps you’ll be glad about two things: 1) there are no bears on Unalaska, not even polar bears 2) this is the Polar Bear Run, not the Polar Bear Swim.
Summer Solstice Run
Summer Solstice presents the perfect opportunity to get outdoors and make the most of the light on the longest day of the year. The 2-mile Summer Solstice Run starts at Carl E. Moses boat harbor, takes runners uphill and along the shoreline of the “Little South America” small boat harbor, past Bunker Hill and back to the finish line. Some years there are race themes (like “superheroes”), which add an extra element of spirit and fun for both adults and younger racers.
Ballyhoo Mountain Run
The 1,600-foot ascent to the top of Ballyhoo Mountain is always popular with hikers who enjoy a view along with their regular exercise. But participants in the Ballyhoo Mountain Run don’t stop for long to take in the dramatic sights of Unalaska. It’s up and back down the 1.9 mile course in a race to beat the record time (currently 24 minutes for men and 36:18 for women). This is a spectator-friendly evening event that also offers a shorter course for youngsters.
Heart of the Aleutians 5k
The Heart of the Aleutians Festival is one of the biggest events of the year, and finishing a 5k is a great way to get your own heart pumping. Afterward you can cool off in the dunk tank, enjoy live music and try a little barbeque or plenty of local baked goods. A Tot Trot starts before the 5k; both races start in Kelty Field, the “heart” of the Heart of the Aleutians festival.
Bobby Johnson Summer Bay Classic Half-Marathon
Unalaskans have been running or biking the Bobby Johnson Summer Bay Classic Half-Marathon since about 1998. The 13.1 mile race course begins in town but quickly reveals an arduous unpaved path through Overland Pass, around Summer Bay Lake and back to Town Park. Steep hills and loose gravel give both runners and riders pause as they master their fastest controlled descents. In more recent years, the race was renamed to memorialize Bobby Johnson, who was an Unalaska fisherman, businessman and superb athlete. When it came to competitive athletic events, Johnson is remembered as an inspiration to others in this small Aleutian community. Sign up as an individual racer or in a team of up to three participants.
Unalaska Sprint Triathlon
Racers test their swimming, biking and running skills in one of Unalaska’s biggest races of the year. Participants enter as individual racers or split up the disciplines as a team of three. Racers get started in the afternoon at the Aquatic Center, and tackle distances for each portion of the race based on their age group (Tiny Tykes, Youth and Teen/Adult).
The Unalaska Turkey Trot is the final race of the year and is a great way to raise funds for charity and possibly win your own Thanksgiving dinner! Runners collect pledges for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (or make a donation at the start of the race). The two-mile course sets out from the Unalaska Parks, Culture and Recreation Center and loops to Kelty Field and back. It’s one technique for working off Thanksgiving calories ahead of time – and fast racers win Thanksgiving fixings: 1st place gets a turkey, 2nd gets sweet potatoes and marshmallows and 3rd gets pumpkin pie ingredients.