The course of the Chilkat Challenge Triathlon (Alaska Clean Water Advocacy)

Haines athletes have plenty of 5Ks and half-marathons to choose from during the summer. But this year, a new race will debut in the valley. The first annual Chilkat Challenge Triathlon is set for July 15. Organizers of the 40-mile race aim to draw awareness to the importance of the Chilkat River.

Alaska Clean Water Advocacy is hosting the race. Gershon Cohen is the director.

“We just wanted to do something that celebrated the river and that brought attention to how important it is that the Chilkat River stays healthy and productive,” says Cohen.

The triathlon will consist of paddling, biking and running. It’s open to single competitors or teams of three.

“It will be an eight mile paddle from Mosquito Lake down to 21 mile,” says Cohen. “A bike ride down to Jones Point, and then an eight mile run down to Chilkat State Park.”

Cohen says the paddling will take place on a safe and protected part of the river

“It’s going to avoid any of the really, you know, potentially challenging parts of the Chilkat,” says Cohen. “And also folks won’t have to deal with wind, which can of course be formidable once you get further down river toward Pyramid Island and whatever.”

He says there will be awards for top finishers.

“There will be prizes,” says Cohen. “We’re going to have a party at the parade grounds once it’s all over. And I think it’ll be a great time. I’ve been talking to folks from Whitehorse and Juneau and all over. Everybody seems very excited about it.”

One of the goals of the event is to bring attention to the value of the river. With that in mind, Cohen says he expects some people to think the race is anti-mining. But, he says it’s bigger than that.

“Whether the mine happens or not, we need to be thinking of protecting the river. It’s where our commercial fishing and sport fishing industry comes from,” says Cohen. “It’s subsistence harvesting, it’s the tourism industry is based on the fact that we have a healthy river. So regardless of what the future brings, protecting that river is an important thing for this community.”

The race takes place on July 15. There is a $75 entry fee per person, or $150 for a three-person team. You can find more information at