The first race of the five-week Salmon Run Series kicked off Wednesday evening at Skyview Middle School.
Tami Murray, the former development director of the Kenai Watershed Forum and Salmon Run event coordinator, said the proceeds will go into watershed programs for the organization.
“It’s a nonprofit fundraiser that the money goes to a good cause,” she said.
The series, spearheaded in 2012 by Kenai Central High School grad-turned professional runner Allie Ostrander, allows competitors to pay for a 5-kilometer fun run through routes at Tsalteshi Trails to raise money for the watershed forum.
“[Ostrander] came up with this idea,” Murray said. “We’ve just been carrying the torch for her.”
Ostrander is now a pro athlete with Brooks Running, and last month walked away from the U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon, with a new personal record in the 3,000-meter steeplechase race.
Murray said when Ostrander is in town, she still comes out to help with the race. “The kids love to see her too.”
Matthew Adams was the evening’s top finisher of the race. He’s a seasonal Soldotna resident who has run in the series a few times before. Adams, who ran as a high schooler in Seward and in college, said a friend convinced him to come out for the race.
“I knew I was going to do at least one this year,” he said.
Murray said that although she helped put on the Salmon Run Series, watershed forum stream watch and hydrology interns Carson Lambert, Brandon Drzazgowski and Jack Buban, have been instrumental in the planning of this year’s race.
Lambert said their supervisor Galen Hecht was absent — running in the Mount Marathon race, actually — so a lot of the work fell on the interns.
“He’s given us a lot of the responsibility,” Lambert said. “All the planning that we really had to do was just walking around yesterday, setting out the flags. … Obviously there are so many trails here so it’s kind of a big job to put flags everywhere … to make sure people stay on the right track and nobody gets lost.”
The trio started their internships in the late spring, and will remain at the forum through the end of August. Lambert said they were supposed to work for the watershed last summer, but had to defer their internship because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I know all the interns who are up here have had just such a great time,” he said. “We’re loving Alaska. We’re loving the work that we do with the Kenai Watershed Forum.”
Lambert recently got his degree in environmental science, and said working at the forum has made him consider a career in nonprofit work.
“It’s just such a cool organization,” he said. “We get to do so many fun things — from invasive species control to hydrology work to volunteer coordination kind of stuff. … Really just seeing the way that KWF is run so smoothly and people are so passionate about what they do has been really inspiring for me.”
The series continues with fun runs on July 14, 21, 28 and Aug. 4 in person through the Tsalteshi Trails system or virtually, with routes getting progressively more difficult by the week. Participants can register online on the Kenai Watershed Forum’s website or in person before the race starts.
1. Matt Adams , 17:54.3; 2. Megan Youngren, 18:43.4; 3. Tyler Hippchen, 19:38.1; 4. Jack Laker, 19:41.9; 5. Mitchell Andrew, 20:16.7; 6. Will Steffe, 21:01.1; 7. Chase Laker, 21:42.2; 8. Jordan Strausbaugh, 22:16.0; 9. Emily Knight, 24:15.2; 10. Ryan Marquis, 24:20.6; 11. Emily Moss, 24:25.5; 12. Shyne Hood, 24:36.7; 13. Robert Carson, 24:42.1; 14. George Wright, 24:53.6; 15. Jeffrey Helminiak (Virtual *On-Course), 25:41.0; 16. Cooper Tallent, 25:58.0; 17. Stryker McLane (Virtual *On-Course), 26:09.0; 18. Wyatt Dement, 26:47.0; 19. Nathan Hibbard, 27:42.8; 20. Jackson Douthit, 27:55.1; 21. Melissa Wolf, 28:47.9; 22. Gus Reimer , 29:00.0; 23. Julie Laker, 29:03.9; 24. Adam Reimer, 29:07.0; 25. Jane Fuerstenau, 29:45.2; 26. Mark Laker, 30:45.0; 27. Susan Craig, 30:56.5; 28. Deandra McLane (Virtual *On-Course), 31:07.0; 29. Kate Swaby, 31:27.2; 30.Carrie Wawrzyk, 31:41.8; 31. Matt Brown, 32:09.4; 32. Annett Meyer, 32:22.2; 33. Tamara Hibberd, 32:25.2; 34. Alysa Queary, 32:34.0; 35. Stephanie Lambe, 33:15.9; 36. Leif Laker, 36:58.0; 37. Jodi Lout, 37:46.0; 38. Sailor Tallent, 40:15.0; 39. Michael Tallent, 40:16.0; 40. Maria Sweppy, 41:28.0; 41. Henry Lachowski, 42:47.0; 42. Lance Spindler, 52:57.3; 43. Missy Bever, 53:38.0.
This story has been updated.