Joshua Holley (354) carries a sand-filled bucket along the beach Saturday at the third annual Clam Scramble Mud Run in Ninilchik. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Joshua Holley (354) carries a sand-filled bucket along the beach Saturday at the third annual Clam Scramble Mud Run in Ninilchik. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Clam Scramble draws record crowd

Most community five-kilometer races take runners down paved paths that skirt scenic wilderness, produce fast times and are easy on the sneakers.

Ninilchik’s Clam Scramble Mud Run is not one of those races.

Saturday’s third annual Clam Scramble Mud Run pushed runners to hurdle logs, ford rivers, carry heavy sand-filled buckets and crawl through a mud pit, all while slogging across a beach that will sap every bit of strength from the legs.

And, to top it off, the race ends on the “staircase to glory,” a punishing section of metal stairs that task weary legs to ascend over five stories after running 5K.

“It’s different. It’s Alaskan,” explained women’s race winner Alex Bergholtz.

Bergholtz, a 2015 Kenai Central High grad, claimed the women’s victory in 23 minutes, 34 seconds, finishing second overall to race winner Maison Dunham, a 14-year-old Kenai runner that will be a freshman at KCHS in the fall. Dunham claimed the overall win in 23:20.

Dunham echoed the thoughts of many runners Saturday by pointing to the race’s climactic ending on the stairs as the toughest element of all.

“You’ve already been on the beach, it’s three miles, and the uphill on the stairs is really hard,” he said. “I think I could’ve gone harder, but I don’t like (running) beaches.”

The race began at the Deep Creek Beach and Campground, took runners over a series of beached logs in the opening kilometer, then continued with a plunge across the waters of Deep Creek, which almost reached the knees of some racers.

Sand-filled buckets awaited racers about halfway through the course. The buckets had to be lugged a short distance around a pole and plopped down in the original spot before continuing.

From there, a short grind through a mud pit covered by a flag line required runners to get down on hands and knees.

“I pretty much just bear-crawled through there,” said Dunham.

From there, all that is left is the push up the staircase, which leads racers to the finish line at the campground.

“The stairs are a killer,” Bergholtz said.

Third-place finisher Riana Boonstra, a Ninilchik resident who runs cross-country for KCHS, said the event is a good way to mix up the summer racing season.

“Usually races are on pavement, so being able to go through the obstacles is fun,” Boonstra said.

Josiah Martin, a Kenai resident who finished fifth overall, pointed out the small community feel of Ninilchik.

“It’s not a huge town, and the money raised goes to a good cause,” Martin said.

The event is hosted partially to raise awareness to the razor clam problem. In Nov. 2010, a strong storm blew in to the area and churned up thousands of clams on the western peninsula beaches, decimating a population and food source to the Ninilchik area.

Since then, healthy clam populations have failed to return, and with the collapsing razor clam populations came a ban on clamming, which has continued into a fourth consecutive year in 2017.

After getting its start in 2015, the Clam Scramble has skyrocketed in popularity. Race attendance has jumped from 62 runners in its inaugural year to 115 last year to an astonishing 206 on Saturday. Race entry fees are split between the Ninilchik Chamber of Commerce and the town’s emergency services department.

2017 Clam Scramble 5K

Saturday in Ninilchik

1. Maison Dunham, 23:20; 2. Alex Bergholtz (first female), 23:34; 3. Riana Boonstra, 24:59; 4. Peter Amundson, 25:21; 5. Josiah Martin, 25:43; 6. Savai’i Heaven, 25:48; 7. Becca Hitchcock, 26:09; 8. Sean Goff, 26:31; 9. Rustin Hitchcock, 27:07; 10. Koda Poulin, 27:08; 11. Erin Carpenter, 27:08; 12. Leah Fallon, 27:27; 13. Maegan Dougherty, 27:31; 14. Julien Harris, 27:41; 15. Keith Blanchette, 27:43; 16. Maurizio Salinas, 27:43; 17. Emily Heale, 27:58; 18. Gregory Fallon, 28:08; 19. Sean Dunham, 28:09; 20. Eric Blevins, 28:33; 21. Ashley Tonione, 28:37; 22. Jeff Helminiak, 28:37; 23. Mathew Knell, 28:57; 24. Spencer Dahlman, 29:00; 25. Kailey Mucha, 29:06.

26. Ann Hession, 29:12; 27. Laureen Bauder, 29:29; 28. Luke Riley, 29:41; 29. Amelia Hall, 29:43; 30. Jayna Boonstra, 30:01; 31.Ben Hanson, 30:03; 32. Norbert Miller, 30:05; 33. Tania Boonstra, 30:09; 34. Dean Amundson, 30:12; 35. Richard Dunaway, 30:32; 36. Travis Hall, 31:13; 37. Matthew Bartolowits, 31:25; 38. Elliott Knell, 31:36; 39. Natalee Finley, 31:48; 40. Rylan Kreger, 31:49; 41. Jancee Corey, 31:50; 42. Brian Amundson, 31:50; 43. Tom Brown, 32:03; 44. David Bear, 32:25; 45. Eric Trevino, 32:40; 46. Hunter Reese, 33:11; 47. Hayden Hanson, 33:16; 48. Ashley Dahlman, 33:37; 49. Kandi Barcus, 34:46; 50. Hannah Armstrong, 35:03.

51. Joshua Salinas, 35:42; 52. Felix Barron, 35:42; 53. Gary Drake, 35:44; 54. Willow Haven, 35:45; 55. Ethan Drake, 35:45; 56. Mike Rearden, 35:48; 57. Mark Amundson, 35:49; 58. Whitney Schollenberg, 35:51; 59. Keegan Baker, 35:53; 60. Sadie Lansing, 35:55; 61. Faith Glassmaker, 36:15; 62. Caleigh Glassmaker, 36:22; 63. Tish Cramer, 37:16; 64. Maddie Cramer, 37:20; 65. Rob Cramer, 38:14; 66. Charmn Amundson, 38:24; 67. Ben Amundson, 38:29; 68. Lauren Maloney, 38:30; 69. Bronwyn Saito, 38:42; 70. John Baker, 38:49; 71. Martin Fallon, 38:50; 72. Jerad Terpak, 38:55; 73. Teresa Fallon, 38:55; 74. Tabitha Knell, 39:00; 75. Parker Rose, 39:00.

76. Dakaotah Buhr, 39:12; 77. Dwight Brown, 39:15; 78. Christine Anderson, 39:16; 79. Alexis Kreger, 39:42; 80. Deland Anderson, 39:49; 81. Tristen Reese, 40:26; 82. LarRae Bartolowits, 40:32; 83. Jenica Rose, 41:29; 84. Rosie Johnson, 41:51; 85. Sam Johnson, 41:56; 86. Autumn Calabrese, 41:57; 87. Kathleen Sorensen, 42:12; 88. Jared Ramm, 42:20; 89. Joshua Holley, 42:27; 90. Megan Koch, 42:34; 91. Bailey Horne, 42:50; 92. Onyx Allen, 44:12; 93. Garrett Scheid, 44:15; 94. Garrett Horne, 44:21; 95. Maria Sweppy, 44:22; 96. Ceiony Allen, 44:47; 97. Lindsey Reese, 44:49; 98. Loren Reese, 44:49; 99. Eliot Hanson, 45:03; 100. Samantha Calbrese, 45:04.

101. Vivan Moe, 45:04; 102. Stormy Walkoff, 45:24; 103. Joe Galvin, 45:24; 104. Deloma Howell, 45:50; 105. Jade Robuck, 46:14; 106. James Morrison, 46:14; 107. Teresa Dalebout, 46:41; 108. Angela McConnell, 46:45; 109. Delores Lindeman, 46:54; 110. 46:54; 111. Savannah Chaffin, 46:56; 112. Dotty Brown, 47:12; 113. Logan Matysczak, 47:54; 114. Archer Matysczak, 47:55; 115. LeeAnn Matysczak, 47:57; 116. Marissa Miller, 48:01; 117. Jeremy Buhr, 48:17; 118. Clark P, 48:47; 119. Melissa Clark, 49:04; 120. Sidney McRone, 49:04; 121. Ryan Wheat, 49:12; 122. Daniel McRone, 49:12; 123. Rob McZone, 49:35; 124. Connie Wheat, 49:35; 125. Jennifer Williams, 49:36.

126. Ashley Landess, 49:37; 127. Emma Glassmaker, 49:51; 128. Tanya Lautaret, 49:53; 129. Cindy Glassmaker, 49:57; 130. John Lindeman, 52:13; 131. Sienna Lautaret, 52:16; 132. Riley Reese, 52:25; 133. Dylan McCarville, 52:47; 134. Payton Reese, 52:48; 135. Tyler McCarville, 53:20; 136. Sue McCarville, 53:27; 137. Rick Sawyer, 54:10; 138. Becky Whaley, 54:11; 139. Angie Brown, 54:44; 140. Tammy Farrell, 54:45; 141. Noelle Baker, 55:02; 142. Jackson Baker, 55:56; 143. Noah Baker, 55:57; 144. Liam Young, 56:00; 145. Bailey Young, 56:24; 146. Sharlyn Young, 56:25; 147. Ollie Janssen, 56:43; 148. Chachee Janssen, 56:43; 149. Heather Baker, 56:44; 150. William Linthorst, 56:46.

151. Ethan Baker, 58:16; 152. Betsey Vanek, 58:25; 153. Nita Rearden, 1:00:03; 154. Robin Dahlman, 1:01:24; 155. Sheila Best, 1:01:26; 156. Bonnie Bemis, 1:02:34; 157. Shelly Pollard, 1:02:35; 158. Pam Ehlers, 1:02:36; 159. Sue Blevins, 1:02:56; 160. Richard Blevins, 1:02:57; 161. Robin Horne, 1:02:58; 162. Shelby Burton, 1:03:49; 163. Jamie Burton, 1:04:13; 164. Bandon Burton, 1:04:21; 165. Starla Franklin, 1:04:31; 166. Kristopher Schwalb, 1:04:33; 167. Teresa Evans, 1:06:07; 168. Jacelle Zoubek, 1:06:49; 169. Heather Floyd, 1:06:50; 170. Jim Taylor, 1:06:50; 171. Gigi Zoubek, 1:08:18; 172. Lara McGinnis, 1:09:21; 173. Dick Hawkins, 1:09:24; 174. Stephanie Carlson, 1:11:41; 175. Eric Swedberg, 1:11:41.

176. Pierre Morrell, 1:11:48; 177. Jean Phillipe Hullen, 1:11:51; 178. Dionne Kirby, 1:11:54; 179. Jack Blakemore, 1:12:14; 180. John Chaffin, 1:12:15; 181. Caroline Chaffin, 1:12:16; 182. Patrick Metzer, 1:12:42; 183. Karmen Farrell, 1:14:05; 184. Elenor Wilkes-Hamlin, 1:14:06; 185. Hunter Kirby, 1:14:16.

Josiah Martin (left) races Savai’i Heaven up the “staircase to glory” Saturday at the third annual Clam Scramble Mud Run in Ninilchik. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Josiah Martin (left) races Savai’i Heaven up the “staircase to glory” Saturday at the third annual Clam Scramble Mud Run in Ninilchik. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Luke Riley hustles up the “staircase to glory” Saturday at the third annual Clam Scramble Mud Run in Ninilchik. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Luke Riley hustles up the “staircase to glory” Saturday at the third annual Clam Scramble Mud Run in Ninilchik. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

The field of 206 runners flood onto the beach Saturday at the third annual Clam Scramble Mud Run in Ninilchik. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

The field of 206 runners flood onto the beach Saturday at the third annual Clam Scramble Mud Run in Ninilchik. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

From left to right, Riana Boonstra, Alex Bergholtz and Josiah Martin leap several beached logs Saturday at the third annual Clam Scramble Mud Run in Ninilchik. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

From left to right, Riana Boonstra, Alex Bergholtz and Josiah Martin leap several beached logs Saturday at the third annual Clam Scramble Mud Run in Ninilchik. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

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