Days to Race345
Days to Race345
“To raise money for and awareness of breast cancer and women’s health, and to showcase the talents of Alaska’s women athletes.”
This is accomplished through: an annual women’s run/walk event that serves as a vehicle for fundraising, participation, awareness and competition, and grant making to organizations concerned with breast cancer research, education, outreach, prevention and early detection.
The first Alaska Run for Women event was held in 1993 and drew 758 participants. It was started as an alternative to the then 15-year-old Alaska Women’s Run. Read founder Terri Pauls’ complete narrative of the RFW’s origins. Now one of the most visible running events in the state, the Run is also one of the largest all-women runs in the country.
Organized by a strong group of volunteers – a board of directors and a race committee – the Run generates a unique sense of camaraderie and sisterhood. Competitors include runners and walkers of all ages and abilities, many sporting back tags honoring a loved one who has survived breast cancer or in memory of those who have not.
Since 1993, $5.7 million in cash and donated mammograms has been generated by the event – all of which has been distributed to organizations associated with breast cancer. The donated mammograms are given to low-income women through a program administered by a local non-profit. To learn more about the grants program or to review a list of all grant recipients, visit our grants page.
It was an honor to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in the Event category. Accepting the award are board co-president Kathy Wisthoff, Run founder Terri Pauls and long-time volunteer Lisa Keller.
Thank you to Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz for proclaiming June 10, 2017 Alaska Run for Women Day, and to Alaska Governor Bill Walker for the letter of support on the 25th anniversary of the Alaska Run for Women.
Charlotte Tharp is a long-time Alaska resident and graduate of East High School. She is a founding board member of the Alaska Run for Women and has been a volunteer with the event since its inception. A CPA by trade, Charlotte has donated countless hours to the board of directors as the organization’s Treasurer.
In addition to her board of director duties, Charlotte also volunteers as a race committee member working as a cashier at in-person registrations and race day bib pick-up. In the event’s “early days” she recorded times by hand at the finish line and did data entry for registrations and finishers’ times. Says Charlotte, “My work as a race committee member has given me a greater understanding of the intricacies needed for staging event logistics.”
Like many who participate in the Alaska Run for Women, Charlotte has many friends, colleagues and family members who have battled breast cancer. “It is inspiring to see the growth of this event, made possible only by the many volunteers who participate, and the impact as an organization the race has had broadening the awareness of breast cancer education. It has been an honor to work with so many dedicated people on the board and the race committee, and is such an uplifting experience to see all of the participants and hear some of their stories at the event.”
Kathy Wisthoff, a long-time Alaska resident and graduate of West High School and UAA, has been a member of the board since its inception. She has held board leadership roles including president, vice-president and secretary. Additionally, Kathy has chaired the merchandise committee from the beginning, and is responsible for ordering and selling all merchandise. She has recruited several dedicated family members who volunteer year after year selling merchandise at bib pick-up events and on race day. She also helps keep the website and Facebook page updated, and serves as the unofficial Run historian.
Kathy’s interest in the Alaska Run for Women started because of a family connection to breast cancer. Her mother is a 30 year survivor, and her sister Susie was diagnosed with cancer the year before the Run started. Susie lost her battle with cancer in 1996, and then Kathy’s mother-in-law passed away in 2006 after a breast cancer recurrence. Kathy developed a love of running after getting involved with the event, and has completed 3 marathons, many half marathons, and various other races. She has dedicated herself to fighting breast cancer for as long as it takes, and says that it’s been a privilege to work with so many dedicated volunteers through the years.
“My passion for this event has never wavered,” Kathy says. “I love seeing and feeling the camaraderie and community support among women every race day. We are fighting for a cure and we do this to honor those we’ve lost, and to support those who have survived. It’s an event that must be seen to be believed!”
Lisa Keller, born and raised in Anchorage, was recruited by founder Terri Pauls to race and lend her status as a top runner and triathlete in Alaska to the first Run for Women in 1993. She has placed in the Top 15 many times, taking 3rd overall in 1996. Nine years into her tenure with the Run, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, making the race an even more significant part of life. She’s the only survivor to place in the Top 15, and every year she has competed since her diagnosis she has been the first survivor across the finish line! She won the overall age-graded survivor division in 2016. Since that first year of helping Terri get the race rolling, Lisa served first as a founding board member, then she handled race timing and results for several years, and has been the chair of the awards committee from the beginning.