Women’s marathon winner Megan Youngren and men’s marathon winner Pedro Ochoa run on Bridge Access Road during the Kenai River Marathon on Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Women’s marathon winner Megan Youngren and men’s marathon winner Pedro Ochoa run on Bridge Access Road during the Kenai River Marathon on Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Youngren sets record in Kenai River Marathon

For the second time in nine days, Soldotna’s Megan Youngren, 30, broke a marathon course record held by Palmer’s Christy Marvin.

The difference Sunday at the sunny Kenai River Marathon was Youngren got a victory for her efforts.

In the 16th running of the event, Youngren won the women’s and overall marathon in 2 hours, 48 minutes, 11 seconds, to snap Marvin’s 2018 mark of 3:04:49.

Homer’s Pedro Ochoa, 25, won the men’s marathon at 3:10:29, while the half marathon winners were Seward’s Patrick Lewis, 33, in 1:22:29 and Virginia’s Meghan Cloud, 48, in 1:37:12. The event had 162 runners.

Youngren has an impressive running resume, with a 230th-place finish in the 2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta.

On her priority list, though, the Equinox Marathon in Fairbanks has long been at the top.

“It’s everything,” Youngren said.

On Sept. 18, Youngren ran 3:11:57 on the challenging course to top Marvin’s record of 3:15:06 in 2018. Anchorage’s Anna Dalton won this year’s women’s race at 3:07:22 on a historic day when four women beat Marvin’s old record.

Youngren said Dalton made the pass with about eight miles to go with Youngren battling a calf cramp.

“I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t race it out, but I’m really proud of Anna,” Youngren said. “She killed it. That record is good, but it’s not unbeatable. By either of us.”

Youngren said she’s definitely not done with the Equinox. She was already planning what she needs to improve in the race next year when, in the middle of the week, she couldn’t help but notice the weather forecast for the Kenai River Marathon.

“I checked the forecast and I was like, ‘Oh no, that’s literally perfect,’” she said. “So I checked to see if there were any slots left to register.

“The whole week I was like, ‘No, no, no. Stop this. Don’t do it.’”

As the week progressed, Youngren said she felt really good. She chalked it up to the Equinox having so much climbing and descending, and so many variable trail conditions, that the body doesn’t take uniform pounding.

Hence Marvin setting both the Equinox and Kenai River records in 2018, though the races were two weeks and a day apart that year.

Youngren’s marathon personal record is 2:43:29. She was looking to get a bit of a personal record in the Kenai River Marathon before heading to the California International Marathon on Dec. 5.

Plans got altered when Ochoa, now a three-time men’s winner with a best time in the event of 2:53:55 in 2018, stuck with Youngren for the first half of the race.

“I knew who she was,” Ochoa said. “I was like, ‘All right, if I go with her, I’ll probably get a PR or I’m just going to blow out.’”

Ochoa, who did hang on to beat runner-up Lee Frey by about 3 minutes, gets credit for boldness. He knew he’d probably go out too fast keeping up with Youngren and suffer.

“That’s pretty hard,” he said. “But that’s what I planned out if I see anyone fast that I know. I’m just going to race because it’s a race.”

Youngren said she took a little more out of the bank in the first half of the race due to Ochoa’s presence. She said that made it difficult to sustain her pace in the second half when she didn’t have the added thrill of racing somebody.

Still, after running 4:04:26 in the Kenai River Marathon in 2018, Youngren said the event was a success. She loves the convenience of a hometown marathon and loves the bike path loop between Kenai and Soldotna, putting in a pitch for it to be plowed regularly in the winter.

“I’ve trained so much (since 2018),” she said. “It’s really cool to come back and just casually run a very, very fast time here, and knowing that I’m not going to be too beat up after this.”

In the men’s half marathon, Lewis also got some redemption from 2018. He took the early lead in that race and ended up getting passed late, running 1:22:05 to the 1:20:50 of Soldotna’s Dan McIntosh.

Sunday, Lewis was 24 seconds off his 2018 time, but he was happy to trade that for the better pacing and the victory.

“I lost steam at the end, and some kid came and passed me at like Mile 9 and beat me and I just had to watch him beat me,” Lewis said of 2018. “And I’ve had a lot of sleepless nights since then. That one’s eating away at me.

“So I’m very excited to get the W. I don’t care how I had to get it.”

Lewis also will be running in the California International Marathon, looking for a time of about 2:55 that will qualify him for the Boston Marathon.

He’s taken time off of running all of Seward’s amazing trails for bike path and Exit Glacier Road Runs, which he doesn’t like nearly as much.

Lewis said the goal of Boston is worth it, thanking the volunteers and organizers for putting on a race that was a perfect tuneup for CIM.

Dreams also came true in the women’s half marathon, where Cloud topped Kristin Davis by a little over 6 minutes to win the first half marathon of her life on the vacation of her life.

Cloud and her husband, Hunter, are taking a two-week trip in Alaska for their 20th anniversary.

“I have long dreamed of running some kind of race in Alaska,” Cloud said. “Alaska’s been on our bucket list.

“I booked this trip, then I thought, ‘Oh, let me just look and see if there’s a marathon or half marathon. And, lo and behold, Kenai.’”

The Clouds have done Denali National Park and Preserve, Matanuska Glacier, Anchorage and a bit of the Kenai Peninsula so far. She said watching salmon spawn at Russian River was the highlight, with getting to see Denali a close second.

“Thanks for being such great hosts, and thanks for the people being out here today when it’s freezing cold,” Cloud said.

The marathon relay winners were Sean Goff, Alex Serventi, Patrick Metzger and Rustin Hitchcock in 3:08:27.

Veronika Reed won the women’s 5K in 29:26, while Sebastian Reed won the men’s 5K in 22:27.

Kenai River Marathon

Marathon

Women — 1. Megan Youngren, 2 hours, 48 minutes, 11 seconds; 2. Carma Reed, 3:51:13; 3. Susan Craig, 3:58:56; 4. Tricia Fields, 4:01:51; 5. Sara Larsen, 4:06:29; 6. Sondra Stonecipher, 4:12:31; 7. Jennifer Booz, 4:22:17; 8. Kristy Berington, 4:49:25; 9. Andrea Berington, 4:49:25; 10. Jessica Jaroma, 4:57:16; 11. Claire Sharp, 5:08:40; 12. Melissa Tafoya, 5:26:37; 13. Lauren Pilatti, 5:34:54; 14. Christina Lam, 6:44:44.

Men — 1. Pedro Ochoa, 3:10:29; 2. Lee Frey, 3:13:39; 3. William Bowman, 3:14:28; 4. Robert Cassidy, 3:15:53; 5. Tony Covarrubias, 3:57:51; 6. Dean Denter, 4:02:51; 7. Michael Minchaca, 4:10:16; 8. Michael Tallent, 4:11:07; 9. Mikel Salzetti, 4:17:59; 10. Peter VanDyne, 4:23:58; 11. Russell Throckmorton, 4:35:09; 12. Eric Thomason, 4:38:54; 13. Joe Young, 4:45:26; 14. Wade VonHeeder, 4:45:59; 15. Robert Deadmond, 4:58:19; 16. Andy Pannell, 5:30:34; 17. Levi Shank, 5:34:26; 18. Joe Lepkowski, 5:45:13; 19. Jason Gilbert, 6:49:40.

Relay — 1. Navigationally Challenged (Sean Goff, Alex Serventi, Patrick Metzger, Rustin Hitchcock), 3:08:27; 2. Young Gunners (John Bramante, Nicholas Josten, Chris Beaudoin, Danny Hyman), 3:30:27; 3. Get Me an Uber (Elijah D, James Innes, Wendy Rice, Viorica Thompson), 3:55:34; 4. Sole Sisters (Amy Anderson, Chelsea Wingard, Stephanie Lambe, Chere Avigo), 3:55:42; 5. Advanced Physical Therapy Cool Runnings (Joe S. Muchmore, Lindsy R. Moore, Demitra E. Apergis, Josh Fedde), 4:01:00; 6. Running Joke (Danielle Dooley, Stephanie Brown, John Mark Wenger, Glenn Wilkerson), 4:08:23; 7. I Thought This Was A 5K (Amy Frapp, Mariah Carier, Katrina Cannava, AnnMaria Rudstrom), 4:31:48; 8. Onward, Beaches (Kathy Hammer, Alane Hughes, Joni Dykstra, Shelby Dykstra), 4:54:57; 9. Shooting Stars of NNS (Colby Way, Kaci Tauriainen, Katy Settlemyer, Jenna Fabian), 5:08:12.

Half marathon

Women — 1. Meghan Cloud, 1:37:12; 2. Kristin Davis, 1:43:46; 3. Kathleen Sorensen, 1:43:50; 4. Elizabeth Hardie, 1:48:51; 5. Emily Knight, 1:50:29; 6. Libby Jensen, 1:52:52; 7. Christine Jones, 1:53:09; 8. Megan Murphy, 1:53:23; 9. Cindy Colbert, 1:54:26; 10. Bailey Braband, 1:55:56; 11. Laura Jungreis, 1:58:57; 12. Maria Nalos, 1:59:24; 13. Anny Taylor, 2:00:05; 14. Susan Pfeiffenberger, 2:00:09; 15. Elizabeth Cox, 2:00:10; 16. Antonya Hall, 2:02:15; 17. Jenna Brown, 2:03:55; 18. Melissa Tholl, 2:04:16; 19. Emily Vetter, 2:05:26; 20. Deann Denter, 2:06:54; 21. Lindsay Hallam, 2:07:42; 22. Emily Conlogue, 2:08:15; 23. Mae Belleza Stinnett, 2:09:35; 24. Kristen Bailey, 2:12:12; 25. Jill Evoy, 2:14:52;.

26. Kathy Trinh, 2:14:54; 27. Sheri Boggs, 2:16:36; 28. Guadalupe Mendoza, 2:21:58; 29. Lila Johnson, 2:25:15; 30. Sherry Pederson, 2:25:15; 31. Amanda Miotke, 2:25:15; 32. Abbie Hall, 2:28:40; 33. Dawn Shutter, 2:28:59; 34. Tamara Hibberd, 2:29:32; 35. Jesse Jezorski, 2:30:05; 36. Amie Condon, 2:39:14; 37. Margret Nelson, 2:44:31; 38. Christi Brand, 2:47:10; 39. Valerie Buss, 2:47:12; 40. Bonnie Mastolier, 2:47:14; 41. Jolene McDowell, 2:50:56; 42. Kohlton Rhoda, 2:52:51; 43. Jeanine Huston, 2:56:16; 44. Melissa Greiner, 3:00:33; 45. Oline Korn, 3:00:33; 46. Kaitlyn Van Alstine, 3:05:38; 47. Erin I’nama, 3:05:39; 48. Mary Smeaton, 3:07:48; 49. Kristine Barnett, 3:10:53; 50. Jacqueline Scurlock, 3:10:54.

51. Leona Noe, 3:15:37; 52. Julie Jokinen, 3:22:44; 53. Shawn Cornelius, 3:26:24; 54. Rebecca Bezdecny, 3:34:37.

Men — 1. Patrick Lewis, 1:22:29; 2. Michael Foster, 1:42:25; 3. Don Connely, 1:42:47; 4. Larry Nickell, 1:48:44; 5. Alex Wade, 1:50:35; 6. Kyle Braband, 1:55:56; 7. Josh Vetter, 2:05.26; 8. Frank Thomson, 2:19:25; 9. Gregory Whipple, 2:31:00; 10. Todd Welcher, 2:38:20; 11. Riley Gray, 2:52:51; 12. Marvin Colbert, 2:54:10; 13. Steve Bezdecny, 3:34:37.

5 kilometers

Women — 1. Veronika Reed, 29:26; 2. Dannette Petersen, 31:02; 3. Rachael Nelson, 33:25; 4. Emily Heale, 34:22; 5. Courtney Berry, 34:23; 6. Sarah Pribbenow, 37:46; 7. India Pribbenow, 37:46; 8. Kylie Morris, 37:50; 9. Jeanette Nienaber, 40:59; 10. Kimberly Thompson, 42:25; 11. Valerie Weathers, 43:20; 12. Yvonne Oren, 44:37; 13. Diane Nickell, 47:28; 14. Alyssa Murphy, 50:29; 15. Allegra Hamer, 1:03:14; 16. Ruth Bratz, 1:03:14; 17. Carrie Brown, 1:05:03; 18. Jennifer Tollackson, 1:05:05.

Men — 1. Sebastian Reed, 22:27; 2. Nils Cardell, 27:04; 3. Foley Eric, 28:38; 4. Trent Boggs, 37:11; 5. Joshua Lewis, 39:24; 6. Odin Rydberg, 40:58; 7. Tom Yukman, 42:14; 8. Robert Weathers Jr., 43:20.

Women’s half marathon winner Meghan Cloud is awash in fall colors during the Kenai River Marathon in Kenai, Alaska, on Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Women’s half marathon winner Meghan Cloud is awash in fall colors during the Kenai River Marathon in Kenai, Alaska, on Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Men’s half marathon winner Patrick Lewis runs through Kenai, Alaska, during the Kenai River Marathon on Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Men’s half marathon winner Patrick Lewis runs through Kenai, Alaska, during the Kenai River Marathon on Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

A moose darts into the forest on Beaver Loop Road in Kenai, Alaska, during the Kenai River Marathon on Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

A moose darts into the forest on Beaver Loop Road in Kenai, Alaska, during the Kenai River Marathon on Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

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