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Alaska lighthouse run using technology to social distance

JUNEAU, Alaska — A fundraising run for Alaska’s oldest original lighthouse will use technology to allow participants to raise money while social distancing during the coronavirus outbreak.

The Run 4 the Rock Foghorn Race in Juneau will allow participants to run individually and submit times by email or text, The Juneau Empire reported Thursday.

The Eldred Rock Lighthouse Preservation Association, which organized the fundraiser for the historic landmark near Haines, said participants can run a 2-kilometre (1.24-mile) hill climb or 5-kilometre (3.11-mile) and 10-kilometre (6.21-mile) courses April 12-18.

The courses will be marked before Saturday, association Executive Director Sue York said.

The association was established to restore and preserve the lighthouse that went into service in 1906 near Haines in southeast Alaska, according to its website.

The organization wanted to continue its fundraising efforts while observing the state’s social distancing guidelines to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

“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.”

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

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

A lease agreement with the Coast Guard Civil Engineering Unit lets the association to apply for matching grants.

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

Funds raised by the run will be earmarked for the applications, York said.

“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.”

The Associated Press

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