Wednesday night, all the cats of Seward took over the alleys.
The second annual Alley Cats Run brought all of the felines in town away from their scratching posts and into the alleys for an evening of runs and puns.
More than 50 people participated in this year’s event, donning whiskers, tails, ears and more while following a route throughout town, avoiding the main roads and running into some aptly themed stops.
A litter box filled with hidden treats, a hydration station of milk and a Fancy Feast break allowed for some “paws” throughout the 5-kilometer course. The group of cats often strayed from the route, avoiding local dogs or detouring through downtown establishments, but the clowder ran together.
Cats aren’t known for their competitiveness or high energy levels. The run was a “show up and participate” event, with entrance fees costing a few whiskers on the face or a dish for the potluck afterward, and no one was rewarded for running fast.
“This is a noncompetitive event, so no prize for first place,” said event organizer Kenny Regan. “We all start and end together which is really fun. There are trophies given out for best dressed and most spirited cat.”
This year’s best dressed went to a brightly outfitted Patrick Lewis with his “Rainbow Kitty” getup, face makeup and all. Lewis took home top prize for the second year in a row, securing another cat trophy to display.
“I am ‘feline’ really great about it. My training was ‘purr-fect.’ This is a 365-day-a-year event for me, but most of all I have to thank all the Egyptian cat gods for the victory — especially Bastet, Sekhmet and Pakhat,” Lewis said. “Without them, this would not have been possible.”
Most spirited went to Trent Gould of Kayak Adventures Worldwide, who set up a litter box for participants to dig through with their “poop scoop” and herded a litter of cats to the event.
“We wanted something that would get people outside doing something physical,” said Regan, who thought of the event with Sean and Sadie Ulman. “But we wanted it to be goofy and something that could work for all abilities.”
And all abilities were there, from toddlers who were running along in between time spent in the stroller to active runners holding an actual kitten on their shoulder. The Alley Cats Run is an opportunity for everyone to stretch their legs after a long winter, be a little goofy and run around with friends.
“From saucers of milk to litter boxes and outright alley shenanigans, it was a successful night,” Regan said. “Already have some ideas in mind for Alley Cats 2020, but I’m especially going to work on my costume and dethrone Patrick.”
The run was a great way to mark the start of the summer season in Seward, and across the peninsula. Before the warm weather brings tourists and more to the area and sends locals out every weekend on a different fishing, hiking or running trip, Alley Cats is a reminder to slow down, stick together and have fun.
In a city, and state, where dogs often reign supreme, the race is a great way to give cats their time in the sun.
Move over Iditarod, the Alley Cats are coming for you and everyone’s invited.