While Allie Ostrander was being named the repeat winner of the Mountain West Female Athlete of the Year on Wednesday, yet another accomplishment for the Soldotna runner and 2015 Kenai Central graduate was playing out in her hometown.
The Salmon Run Series is thriving without the Boise State runner.
Ostrander started the series in the summer of 2012 before her sophomore year at Kenai Central.
The fundraiser for the Kenai Watershed Forum always had Ostrander helping on-site for its first six years, but this summer she had to return to Boise and can’t be at any of the races.
The five-race series, held Wednesdays at Tsalteshi Trails, has remained strong without its founder, with 141 runners the first week and 129 Wednesday. In some ways, that should be no surprise, since the Kardinals girls won the state cross-country title in their first post-Ostrander season.
“We do miss her, but she left us in very good shape,” said Tami Murray, a development director at the Kenai Watershed Forum and the coordinator of the Salmon Run Series.
A highlight of the Salmon Run Series was always watching Ostrander run with kids at the one-kilometer event that kicks off the festivities each week.
It turns out the joys of running, family and community work just fine without a two-time NCAA champion in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, though.
“It’s addictive,” Murray said. “One person in the family sees the fun and the others want to enjoy it was well.
“Our community is getting more and more involved with the outdoors — in running and biking.”
Not that Allie isn’t still part of the draw, as the front of the pack in the one-kilometer race illustrates. Luci Salzer, 8, has won both of the 1Ks this year.
“I heard about it because my kids went to school with Allie,” said Carla Salzer, who is Luci’s mother and lives on Kalifornsky Beach Road. “I think it’s awesome.
“Allie did such a great thing for this community.”
This is the first year the Salzers have done the Salmon Run Series, but it hasn’t taken Luci long to get the hang of it.
“You get all of the sweat and all of the bad stuff off of you when you run,” she said.
Just behind Salzer in the 1K race was Myka Battiest, 6, of Kenai, showing that it doesn’t have to be Ostrander that inspires a runner.
Battiest said she was inspired by her aunt, Laura Ellsworth, who did the race last week.
Myka’s mother, Sara Battiest, said her boys were reluctant to jump in, but now that Myka has done it, the boys want in, too.
“Seeing the adults get out and encourage the kids is so inspiring,” said Jason Battiest, who is Myka’s father. “It’s great to be a part of something like that.”
Wyatt Lorring, almost 2 1-2 years old and from Soldotna, agrees. He could be seen pulling on the arm of his father, David Lorring, during the 1K event.
“He loves to run with his dad,” said Wyatt’s mother, Mindy Lorring. “He was sad he didn’t run last week so he decided to run this week.”
David also jumped right in the 5K race with son, Emerson, a seventh-grader at Skyview Middle School; and daughter, Tanis, a senior at Soldotna High School.
“It’s competitive if you want that, but it’s also a fun activity,” Mindy said. “That makes it fun for everybody.”
Tanis and Bradley Walters, who will be a junior at Soldotna, bring out that competitive attitude.
Walters was the top men’s finisher in the 5K at 18 minutes, 12 seconds, while Lorring was the first woman across the line at 23:17.
“It’s a good gauge to see how I’m going to do for the upcoming cross-country season,” Walters said.
With his last Salmon Run Series clocking in at 19 minutes, 30 seconds, last year, and his debut of 19:00 last week, Walters said he is optimistic about his upcoming season.
Lorring crumpled to the ground right after finishing her race. She said she is anemic and had taken too much iron supplement, making her dizzy.
“Other than that, it was a good run,” Lorring said. “I enjoyed all the hills. There were definitely more hills today.”
Like Walters, Lorring said the runs are a great way to kick the tires before cross-country season.
“It’s healthy competition that connects to the training for cross-country really well,” she said. “I like getting the feel for racing without racing against all of the good runners in my age group.”
The Salmon Run Series not only shows the benefits of running with family members, but also the value of pushing family members, as well.
Jake Streich of Soldotna pushed his daughter, 3-year-old Harper, in a stroller for the entire 5K race. He still managed to finish ninth overall in 22:25.
“I think she enjoys it,” Streich said. “She definitely didn’t like it when I first put her in today, but she ended up having a good time.”
Two years ago, Streich pushed his daughter in every race, but last year, he pushed her in just one. He’s hoping to do more this year.
Streich said his wife, Leah Streich, also loves to run and without a double stroller, somebody sits at the start line on kid duty.
And as for the question of whether pushing a stroller up Tsalteshi’s demanding hills is great training, Streich’s performance in the Mount Marathon Race points to yes.
He finished 67th in the race up and down the 3,022-foot peak in 1:01:58.
But Salmon Run Series isn’t just for training for running. Ostrander was an accomplished soccer player for Kenai Central before focusing on running, and Scott Huff of Kenai carried on that tradition by bringing his Kenai Peninsula Soccer Club Under-10 Blizzard to Wednesday’s race.
Huff has been coming to the Salmon Run Series from the beginning, but has missed the last couple of years due to coaching soccer.
“Just to mix it up,” he said, when asked why he brought his side. “It’s a long summer of soccer with lots of practice. It’s something we could do for fun.”
The coach said some players were skeptical about running three miles, but Huff said he pointed out the players were probably running at least that much during games.
“They should be in pretty good shape at this point in the year,” Huff said, noting the squad was able to score some victories in Anchorage tournament games, something that didn’t happen last year.
Huff’s son, 10-year-old Owen, said the race made him feel nervous and happy.
“I was nervous because I know it’s a long race, but happy because I knew that if I finished it, I conquered it,” he said.
Scott Huff said 10 of his 16 players showed up for the race, scrimmaging with a soccer ball before the event started. The coach said the race also was a great way to introduce the players’ parents to Salmon Run Series and Tsalteshi Trails.
Murray said the races continue to be a good example of what happens when the community comes together.
She said Tsalteshi Trails helps immensely, with Bill Holt and John Pothast mowing the trails.
Central Peninsula Hospital pays for any employee that wants to do the race, while the city of Soldotna, Advanced Physical Therapy, Central Peninsula Hospital and the Kenai Watershed Forum all do a week of gift bags for the racers.
Murray also said the series has received a boost from Dr. Jennifer Reed-Hawkins of Puffin Chiropractic Faith-Family-Wellness, who has been providing free care after the races.
Salmon Run Series Week #2
1. Bradley Walters, 18 minutes, 12 seconds; 2. Lance Chilton, 19:24; 3. Mike Crawford, 20:09; 4. Ben McGarry, 20:33; 5. Tony Eskelin, 21:21; 6. Jack Laker, 21:37; 7. Joe Hamilton, 21:41; 8. Josh Foster, 21:51; 9. Jake Streich, 22:25; 10. Andy Kircher, 22:45; 11. Avery Willets, 22:51; 12. Kevin Lauver, 22:58; 13. Michael Sheffert, 23:06; 14. Tanis Lorring, 23:17; 15. Ricardo Rubio, 23:38; 16. Gabriel Juliussen, 23:41; 17. Dustin Henkin, 24:01; 18. Gina Gregoire, 24:06; 19. Chase Laker, 24:16; 20. Summer Foster, 24:16; 21. Luke Armstrong, 24:27; 22. Dean Kangas, 24:32; 23. Annie Burns, 24:33; 24. Elizabeth Hardie, 24:58; 25. Carl Kincaid, 24:59.
26. Joel Burns, 25:35; 27. Kellie Arthur, 25:35; 28. Cameron Blackwell, 25:35; 29. Ben McGarry, 25:37; 30. Johnny Wardas, 25:38; 31. Reece Schnell, 25:41; 32. Lisa Juliussen, 26:13; 33. Ellie Burns, 26:24; 34. Chad Arthur, 26:25; 35. Michael Tallent, 26:26; 36. Alek McGarry, 26:48; 37. Ian McGarry, 27:58; 38. Aiden Jackman, 28:01; 39. Sarah Foster, 28:06; 40. Danny Anders, 28:08; 41. Dylan Hogue, 28:15; 42. Jenna Tureman, 28:24; 43. Johnna DeGray, 28:36; 44. Tom Yukman, 28:46; 45. Sandi Yukman, 29:00; 46. Chisato Johnson, 29:16; 47. Emerson Lorring, 29:42; 48. David Lorring, 29:42; 49. Zander Miller, 29:47; 50. Trapper Wardas, 29:53.
51. Krista Arthur, 29:53; 52. Allie Ladwig, 30:04; 53. Elizabeth Earl, 30:18; 54. Laura Ellsworth, 30:41; 55. Kristin Davis, 30:46; 56. Sondra Stonecipher, 31:05; 57. Ethan Hogue, 31:05; 58. Angie Nelson, 31:06; 59. Laura Sanborn, 31:09; 60. Lanie Hughes, 31:22; 61. Brooke Hughes, 31:40; 62. Miguel Castrellon, 32:05; 63. Joel Moss, 32:05; 64. Thaddeus Lingenfelter, 32:10; 65. Sharon Oyao, 32:15; 66. Crystle Tapia, 32:16; 67. Abby Radeck, 32:16; 68. Breanna McConnell, 32:25; 69. Madison McDonald, 32:26; 70. Emily Moss, 32:27; 71. Sheilah-Margaret Pothast, 32:35; 72. John Pothast, 32:35; 73. Tasha Skolnik, 32:50; 74. Madeline Tureman, 33:27; 75. Robert Carson, 33:38.
76. Cooper Tallent-Darling, 34:08; 77. Katie Mae Tallent, 34:08; 78. Terri Cowart, 34:25; 79. Carla Salzer, 34:36; 80. Brad Stonecipher, 34:43; 81. Maria Sweppy, 34:46; 82. April Chilton, 35:00; 83. Patricia Losch, 35:11; 84. Soo Cho, 35:23; 85. Owen Huff, 35:23; 86. Dohn Cho, 35:24; 87. Josiah Holloway, 35:24; 88. Kainoa Taylor, 35:29; 89. Bridger Begich, 35:31; 90. Scott Huff, 35:32; 91. Tiffany Allemann, 35:48; 92. Julie Cisco, 35:51; 93. Dave Fuson, 36:03; 94. Jeremy Losch, 36:04; 95. Rebecca Rampton, 36:17; 96. Nicole Olender, 36:30; 97. Audrey McDonald, 36:35; 98. Dana McDonald, 36:57; 99. Maryjane Hadaway, 37:02; 100. Kate Swaby, 37:09.
101. Joshua Lewis, 37:27; 102. Leif Laker, 37:30; 103. Jamie Nelson, 37:32; 104. Julie Laker, 37:34; 105. Marly Perschbacher, 38:10; 106. Amanda Jackman, 38:16; 107. Sharee Martin, 38:16; 108. Olivia Kobylarz, 39:28; 109. River Sullivan, 39:59; 110. Janelle Martin, 39:59; 111. Tom Kobylarz, 40:59; 112. Teagen Kobylarz, 41:02; 113. Rinna Carson, 41:17; 114. Amy Hogue, 41:17; 115. Arianna Cannava, 41:35; 116. Megan Mitchell, 41:49; 117. Charlotte Wardas, 41:50; 118. Heather Huff, 41:50; 119. Parker Cannava, 41:53; 120. Kartina Cannava, 41:54; 121. Sara Dennis, 42:15; 122. Robin Whiteside, 47:28; 123. Marianne Dailey, 47:32; 124. Erika Madsen, 47:33; 125. Leslie Johnson, 47:34.