John Sherman crawls through the mud with dog Ranger, Saturday at the fourth annual Clam Scramble 5K in Ninilchik. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

John Sherman crawls through the mud with dog Ranger, Saturday at the fourth annual Clam Scramble 5K in Ninilchik. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Clam Scramble keeps runners working hard

Getting through Saturday’s five-kilometer Clam Scramble Mud Run course in Ninilchik required some determination and gritty effort, but the cheers at the finish line were just as loud for the winners as they were for the tail-end competitors.

Maison Dunham won the men’s race and Megan Anderson claimed the women’s race over a field of 152 total runners, and bringing up the rear was the French flag-carrying duo of longtime clammers and fisherman Pierre Morell and Jean-Phillip Hullen.

Morell and Hullen were back at the Ninilchik beach after making their first Clam Scramble last year carrying the generously sized national flag of France, otherwise known as the Tricolour. Morell proudly waved it again Saturday morning as the two friends brought up the rear of the field of runners.

“We like the flags,” Hullen said. “The American flag, the Alaskan, the French flag, we like them all.”

Hullen said the two men have made the trip halfway around the world from France every summer for 40 years to go clamming in Ninilchik and fishing on the Kenai.

However, since the ban on clamming was instituted following a winter storm in 2010 that pulverized the existing clam population, Hullen and Morell haven’t been able to enjoy their tradition.

“It’s a shame,” Hullen said.

Both men have still returned every summer to fish for salmon and now have begun a tradition of running the race, which is in its fourth year.

Clamming provides an important industry and food source to local communities. Thousands of clams were churned up on the beaches of the western Kenai Peninsula during that storm almost eight years ago. Race fees for the event go to raising awareness for the problem in hopes of bringing a return to commercial clamming.

Dunham won the race for a second straight year, and the incoming Kenai Central High sophomore said after winning last year’s race under warm, sunny skies, this year proved to be a little tougher to handle. After finishing in a time of 23 minutes, 20 seconds, in 2017, Dunham dropped to 25:32 on Saturday.

“The water was deeper and really cold,” Dunham described. “It was nicer last year when it was warm, but today when I jumped out of the creek, my legs would just get so cold and numb, and they would start shaking.”

“He took off pretty quick,” said runner-up Koda Poulan, an incoming KCHS freshman who ultimately finished 31 seconds behind Dunham. “I fell in the water. That was the hardest part of the course.”

Poulan held off fast-starting Zachary Ricketts for second by six seconds.

The 5K course challenged racers not only with a wet, sandy beach that made for a heavy slog, but also featured its traditional bucket carry, mud crawl and stair climb. The bucket carry required runners to haul heavy buckets around a marker and back, and the mud crawl forced competitors to duck under a low-hanging flag lines and use hands and knees to toil through the silty mud.

The stair climb was just the final hurdle to overcome, as it tested racers to find that last bit of energy before the brutal finishing kick.

Anderson’s time of 28:39 was enough to beat Kenai middle schooler Leah Fallon by 1:24 for the women’s win and to grab eighth overall, a result the 36-year-old Soldotna runner said she was ready for.

“This is one of my target races for the summer,” Anderson said. “I just wanted to go start to finish.”

As a regular on the peninsula race scene, Anderson said the Clam Scramble provides one of the most interesting events of the racing calendar.

“I almost went under (crossing the river) at one point, I had to keep my keys from falling out,” Anderson said. “The best part, though, is the mud pit.”

2018 Clam Scramble 5K

Saturday in Ninilchik

1. Maison Dunham, 25:32; 2. Koda Poulin, 26:03; 3. Zachary Ricketts, 26:09; 4. Garett Koch, 26:19; 5. Greg Fallon, 26:30; 6. Kyle McNally, 27:02; 7. Savaii Heaven, 28:16; 8. Megan Anderson, 28:39; 9. Leah Fallon, 30:03; 10. Quinn Brown, 30:19; 11. Matt Knell, 30:32; 12. Sean Dunham, 30:46; 13. Emily Heale, 31:03; 14. Jayna Boonstra, 31:43; 15. Elliot Knell, 31:53; 16. Elias Wheeler, 31:59; 17. Samuel Anders, 32:36; 18. Tania Boonstra, 32:39; 19. Mark Menghini, 32:43; 20. Ethan Evans, 33:19; 21. Mallory Millay, 33:34; 22. Zac Buckbee, 33:36; 23. Audrey Russell, 33:45; 24. Eric Terrell, 33:47; 25. Kristen Grimm, 34:07;

26. Kendall Stanavich, 34:16; 27. Ronna Martin, 34:31; 28. Amanda Millay, 34:44; 29. Owen Buckbee, 34:50; 30. Jess Gutzwiller, 35:08; 31. Aaron Gutzwiller, 35:08; 32. Martin Fallon, 35:32; 33. Jason Buckbee, 35:54; 34. Haley Buckbee, 35:54; 35. Rodney Erosky, 36:07; 36. Teresa Fallon, 36:17; 37. Melissa Good, 36:30; 38. Elizabeth Wedner, 37:29; 39. Maddy Campbell, 37:37; 40. John Campbell, 37:38; 41. Whitney Schollenberg, 37:50; 42. Kelsey Deiman-Szymanski, 37:50; 43. Jim Krein, 38:14; 44. Kandi Barcus, 38:37; 45. Sarah Hobart, 39:19; 46. Brandt Mill, 39:43; 47. Joy Hobart, 39:51; 48. Karalyn Veihdeffer, 40:16; 49. Matthew Bartolowits, 40:19;50. Katrina Applehanz, 40:29;

51. Jonathan Barcus, 40:52; 52. Janet Smith, 41:14; 53. Lauren Maloney, 41:30; 54. Regan Evans, 41:38; 55. Tatum Rozak, 42:12; 56. Chris Smith, 42:20; 57. Julia Hanson, 42:25; 58. Kaylee Fann, 42:25; 59. Justin Evans, 43:23; 60. Charlene Collins, 45:12; 61. Jancee Corey, 45:25; 62. Keegan Baker, 45:25; 63. Danielle Harrison, 45:46; 64. LaRae Bartolowits, 45:48; 65. Loen Reinhart, 46:00; 66. Daniel Reinhart, 46:01; 67. Koral Johnson, 46:11; 68. Tina Hensley, 46:44; 69. Maria Sweppy, 47:03; 70. Parker Rose, 47:52; 71. Kendra Rose, 48:34; 72. Jenica Rose, 48:45; 73. Sophie Rozak, 48:53; 74. Carter Lemons, 49:05; 75. Cody Blossom, 49:06;

76. Bronwyn Saito, 49:09; 77. Etta Mill, 49:33; 78. Etolin Mill, 49:33; 79. Raegan Lingenfelter, 49:58; 80. Thaddeus B. Lingenfelter, 50:05; 81. Terry Tuttle, 50:10; 82. Haley Clark, 50:24; 83. Troy Tuttle, 50:24; 84. Daniel Anders, 50:32; 85. Everett Poulin, 50:32; 86. Jennifer Bartolowits, 50:46; 87. Ryanne Lingenfelter, 50:54; 88. Nikelle Sherman, 50:59; 89. John Sherman, 50:59; 90. Jamie Beever, 51:01; 91. Christine Anderson, 51:16; 92. Doc Anderson, 51:35; 93. Nina Menghini, 51:48; 94. Jayme Jones, 52:53; 95. Audrey Hobart Anderson, 53:05; 96. Jennifer Griffin, 54:13; 97. Alexandra Kaminsky, 54:23; 98. Daylin Olivares, 54:25; 99. Cat Schoessler, 54:56; 100. Sue Bollwitt, 55:19;

101. Sarah Bollwitt, 55:19; 102. Elizabeth Schoessler, 55:24; 103. Alice Berger, 55:39; 104. Tony Oliver, 56:20; 105. Brittany Berger, 56:35; 106. Audrey Broderick, 57:17; 107. Kathy Hobart, 57:55; 108. Amber Wheat, 58:55; 109. Ryan Wheat, 58:55; 110. Jim Taylor, 60:00; 111. Thaddeus D. Lingenfelter, 60:18; 112. Ben Broderick, 60:42; 113. Ryan Broderick, 60:42; 114. Isaac Seeman, 60:43; 115. Wyatt Alvord, 61:31; 116. Jadra Alvord, 61:32; 117. Leanne Wilda, 61:52; 118. Kael Aamodt, 61:52; 119. Debra Erosky, 63:38; 120. John Lindeman, 63:40; 121. Delores Lindeman, 63:42; 122. DeAnne Ruiz, 63:42; 123. Kyla Kosednar, 63:47; 124. Becky Whaley, 64:41; 125. Starla Franklin, 64:41;

126. Rick Sawyer, 69:41; 127. Sheila Pollard, 70:24; 128. Melissa LaPlante, 70:24; 129. Shelly Pollard, 70:25; 130. Bonnie Bemis, 70:29; 131. CJ Willett, 70:59; 132. Kenneth Willett, 70:59; 133. Calla Willett, 72:29; 134. Scott Willett, 72:30; 135. Victoria Broderick, 73:31; 136. Bennett Seaman, 73:31; 137. Dustin Hamilton, 73:34; 138. Axel Kaiser, 75:40; 139. Grace Kaiser, 75:43; 140. Clarisse Kaiser, 76:15; 141. Carolyn Easton, 78:45; 142. Anna Dawn LeClaire, 78:46; 143. Lara McGinnis, 79:37; 144. Pierre Morell, 83:22; 145. Jean-Phillip Hullen, 83:22.

Koral Johnson works her way out of the mud crawl Saturday at the fourth annual Clam Scramble 5K in Ninilchik. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Koral Johnson works her way out of the mud crawl Saturday at the fourth annual Clam Scramble 5K in Ninilchik. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Carter Lemons splashes his way through the mud crawl Saturday at the fourth annual Clam Scramble 5K in Ninilchik. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Carter Lemons splashes his way through the mud crawl Saturday at the fourth annual Clam Scramble 5K in Ninilchik. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

LaRae Bartolowits maneuvers through the mud crawl Saturday at the fourth annual Clam Scramble 5K in Ninilchik. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

LaRae Bartolowits maneuvers through the mud crawl Saturday at the fourth annual Clam Scramble 5K in Ninilchik. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Jean-Philip Hullen and Pierre Morell walk with the French national flag Saturday at the fourth annual Clam Scramble 5K in Ninilchik. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Jean-Philip Hullen and Pierre Morell walk with the French national flag Saturday at the fourth annual Clam Scramble 5K in Ninilchik. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Youth runners Karalyn Viehdeffer (left) and Audrey Hobart Anderson hurdle a log together Saturday at the fourth annual Clam Scramble 5K in Ninilchik. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Youth runners Karalyn Viehdeffer (left) and Audrey Hobart Anderson hurdle a log together Saturday at the fourth annual Clam Scramble 5K in Ninilchik. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

A field of 152 runners take off Saturday at the fourth annual Clam Scramble 5K in Ninilchik. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

A field of 152 runners take off Saturday at the fourth annual Clam Scramble 5K in Ninilchik. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

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