Runners take off at the start of the Salmon Run Series in Soldotna, Alaska, on July 8, 2020. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Runners take off at the start of the Salmon Run Series in Soldotna, Alaska, on July 8, 2020. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Salmon Run Series switches to virtual format

Rising positive tests prompt change of course

The organizer of the Salmon Run Series announced Thursday that the last three races of the five-race series will be done virtually due to rising COVID-19 positive tests on the central Kenai Peninsula.

Tami Murray, who organizes the runs, said the shift to a virtual event has nothing to do with the conduct of runners or a specific person testing positive.

“Everyone was acting in the correct manner,” Murray said. “As the days went by, the cases would rise and rise and rise every day. That gave us more reason to go to a virtual race because there were more cases.”

The first Salmon Run Series was held July 8 and the second was held Wednesday, with 40 finishers the first week and 49 the second week. From July 8 to Wednesday, Kenai had 15 total positive tests reported by Alaska’s Department of Health and Social Services, Soldotna had 16 positives and Sterling had two positives.

On the day of the first Salmon Run Series, Kenai had six positives and Soldotna had three positives.

“It was actually after the first race that we started talking about it,” Murray said of going virtual. “We started to see the rise on the day of that first race and we thought, ‘Are we really doing the right thing?’”

After putting together a COVID mitigation plan that involved starting runners in pods and having them wear masks until they separated from other runners, Murray said she initially felt bad about making the decision. Once the decision was made, though, she said she immediately felt good about it.

“With the rise in cases in the community, we just didn’t want to be a contributing factor,” Murray said. “We’re very proud of the way everyone acted at the race. They were doing the right thing by physical distancing and wearing masks.”

The course for races three and four will start and end at Kenai Peninsula College. The course for race five will be the same as the first week, starting in the parking lot for Lucy’s Market and River City Books and ending in the parking lot of Kenai River Brewing.

Racers still register for the races at kenaiwatershed.org. The course for the third week will be marked. That course, or a different 5K course of the runner’s choosing, must be completed by 9 a.m. Thursday.

The course for the third week has a gated section that will open at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday and close at 9 a.m. Thursday. If runners can’t do the course while the gate is open, they have permission to go around the gate.

In order to entice runners to race virtually, Murray will have a drawing for two Alaska Railroad tickets at the end of the series. The number of entries in the drawing will be based on the number of races completed, with the first two races counting as well.

Details about how to submit races will be available on the Salmon Run Series Facebook page. Murray said she is open to publishing a list of times each week, but that will depend how many submit times from the actual course each week.

The Salmon Run Series was created by Allie Ostrander in 2012 on her way to running stardom. The series raises money for the cause of most need at the Kenai Watershed Forum.

Until this year, the series was always held at Tsalteshi Trails, but Murray changed to courses in Soldotna this year in order to avoid having to bring a portable toilet to Tsalteshi and worry about sanitation issues. Murray also wanted to check out some courses in Soldotna.

Though so much of the series has changed due to the new coronavirus pandemic, Murray said she hopes it can still encourage people to run. Seeing new faces out the first two weeks and having to close down was tough, she said. She also said there will be no virtual 1-kilometer kids race.

“Some people run all the time and 5K is not a big deal to them,” Murray said. “For a lot of people that don’t run, if you show them where 5K is, that makes it easier for them. I saw a lot of new faces this year so I’ll continue to mark the courses and do my best to try and get people out.”

More in News

File
Seward face covering mandate goes into effect Wednesday

It remains in effect for 30 days or until the declaration of emergency expires and is not renewed

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
13 COVID deaths announced, 3 on peninsula

DHSS reported 583 new cases in Alaska on Tuesday

Image via Kenai Peninsula Borough School District
District extends remote learning through Dec. 18 for 34 schools

Dec. 18 is the end of the quarter for most district schools

AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File
In this Tuesday, Nov. 17 file photo, manager Yllka Murati waits for a delivery driver to pick up takeout orders behind a partition displaying a sign to remind customers to wear a mask, at the Penrose Diner, in south Philadelphia. Despite the expected arrival of COVID-19 vaccines in just a few weeks, it could take several months — probably well into 2021 — before things get back to something close to normal in the U.S. and Americans can once again go to the movies, cheer at an NBA game or give Grandma a hug.
Officials: Keep Thanksgiving small; celebrate virtually

CDC and public health offer guidelines for Thanksgiving celebrations

Homer City Hall. (Homer News file photo)
City Council votes to reinstate plastic bag ban

City manager authorized to negotiate Homer Spit lease with Salmon Sisters

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
503 new cases; borough positivity rate hits 14.65%

Affected peninsula communities include Kenai, Other North, Soldotna and Seward

In this March 18, 2020 file photo, Thomas Waerner, of Norway, celebrates his win in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Nome, Alaska. The world’s most famous sled dog race will go forward in 2021 officials are preparing for every potential contingency now for what the coronavirus and the world might look like in March when the Iditarod starts. It’s not the mushers that worry Iditarod CEO Rob Urbach; they’re used to social distancing along the 1,000 mile trail. The headaches start with what to do with hundreds of volunteers needed to run the race, some scattered in villages along the trail between Anchorage and Nome, to protect them and the village populations. (Marc Lester/Anchorage Daily News via AP, File)
Virus restrictions lead Norwegian champ to drop Iditarod

“I cannot find a way to get the dogs to Alaska.”

Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska’s chief medical officer, addresses reporters during a Wendesday, March 25, 2020 press conference in the Atwood Building in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Office of the Governor)
First COVID vaccines could arrive in Alaska next month

Pfizer announced their COVID-19 vaccine candidate earlier this month, with Moderna not long after

Most Read