Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion Sam Tilly chats with a reporter after winning the 10-mile Rotary Unity Run on Saturday July 11, 2015 in Soldotna, Alaska.

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion Sam Tilly chats with a reporter after winning the 10-mile Rotary Unity Run on Saturday July 11, 2015 in Soldotna, Alaska.

Summer road warriors back at it for Soldotna Rotary Unity run

To witness the kind of toughness inherent in athletes from the Kenai Peninsula, look no further than Saturday morning’s 13th annual Rotary Unity Run.

The five-kilometer and 10-mile courses are rather simple and pedestrian themselves, featuring a slightly downhill, fast, paved freeway. But it’s the competitors that transform the event into an impressive achievement.

In the 10-mile race, men’s winner Sam Tilly scorched the field on an already scorching day, blistering a believed-to-be course record 54 minutes, 11 seconds, to top another jaw-dropping time by runner-up Jonah Theisen (55:33).

“The first mile was a little too fast,” Tilly said, adding that he clocked him and Theisen at 5:05 at the one-mile marker.

Both men competed in Wednesday’s Salmon Run Series 5K at the Tsalteshi Trails, which ended with Theisen beating Tilly in a sprint for the finish.

While Theisen, 18, was using the race to tune up for college — he will run for Division II Black Hills State University (South Dakota) — Tilly, 29, entered on a whim. The two runners ran together for the opening two miles before Tilly began to pull away.

“I know I’m going to have to run longer races in college anyway,” Theisen said. “This was a good one to do, and I only signed up last night.”

Tilly is a former cross-country runner for the University of Alaska Fairbanks, competing for the Nanooks in 2009, but with nothing else on his schedule for the foreseeable future, he decided to enter the Cross Pass Crossing race on July 25, a race he is planning to break three hours in, a feat that has only been done by two men.

“I’ve been living in Rainbow Valley,” Tilly said, referring to the area just south of Anchorage on Turnagain Arm. “It’s similar terrain, so we’ll see.”

In the women’s race, Heather Moon, fresh off a 116th-place performance in Mount Marathon a week prior, claimed the women’s 10-mile race win in 1:12:51, beating Cynthia Fudzinski by over 3 1-2 minutes.

To add even more credibility to her performance, Moon managed to put in a 10-mile jog the morning after the prestigious Fourth of July event. No big deal, Moon said, but then she also showed up to run Wednesday evening at the hilly Tsalteshi Trails for the first race of the Salmon Run Series.

“It felt good, actually,” Moon said. “These hot races are my thing.”

For Moon, it was her second victory in the Soldotna Rotary Unity 10-miler, which she paired with her win from 2012.

Soldotna’s Sadie Fox crossed the finish line first to claim the overall win in the 5K, running a personal-best of 19:40 to beat men’s winner Brenner Musgrave by 14 seconds.

Fox, a recent graduate at Soldotna High School, won Saturday’s 5K to cap a successful week that included a win in Wednesday’s Salmon Run, and a 69th-place finish at Mount Marathon July 4 in Seward with a time of 1:12:59.

After taking one day off, it was right back to training for Fox, who has been averaging 15 to 20 hours of training a week.

“I was walking around like a grandma after (Mount Marathon),” Fox said about the lingering effects of the grueling race.

Fox will be attending the University of Alaska Anchorage in the fall, where she is preparing to race for the Seawolves Nordic ski team. Barely two weeks ago, Fox said she suffered a case of “road rash,” referring to the burning scrape marks typical of offseason skiers who take a spill on asphalt pathways while roller-skiing in the summertime.

As a Fish and Game employee, Fox said the job has allowed her run more than she usually does this summer, and that extra training helped her dip under 20 minutes in a 5K for the first time in her life.

Fox said Musgrave was leading for much of the race, but a late-race cheer from mom picked up her spirits and motivation enough to kick it into high gear.

“My mom was like, ‘There’s a girl behind you!’ talking to him,” Fox recalled. “I just picked it up.”

Musgrave, a recent home-schooled graduate that formerly attended Skyview High School, said he tried to keep up in the final stretch, but Fox managed to outkick him.

“That’s kind of what I expected, since I haven’t run at all this summer,” Musgrave said.

Musgrave was joined in the race by his whole family (all eight of them), which has competed in the run for the past five years.

13th annual Rotary Unity run


10-mile results — 1. Sam Tilly, 54:11; 2. Jonah Theisen, 55:33; 3. Paul Ostrander, 1:09:39; 4. Jesse Kincaid, 1:11:16; 5. Heather Moon, 1:12:51 (1st female); 6. Mark Johnson, 1:14:42; 7. Cynthia Fudzinski, 1:16:16; 8. Scott Huff, 1:16:56; 9. Eddie Cruz, 1:19:41; 10. Matt Pyhala, 1:19:58; 11. Brooke Forsi, 1:21:14; 12. Lauren Bauder, 1:21:15; 13. Elizabeth Harding, 1:22:28; 14. Sarah Pyhala, 1:24:39; 15. Ben Hanson, 1:25:42; 16. Jodi Hanson, 1:27:37; 17. Susan Craig, 1:27:48; 18. Sondra Stonecipher, 1:28:19; 19. Keith Harvey, 1:29:25; 20. Peter Cannava, 1:30:11; 21. Paul Morin, 1:31:08; 22. Katrina Cannava, 1:31:16; 23. Bill Grabowski, 1:31:48; 24. Carly Reimer, 1:33:58; 25. Patty Moran, 1:33:58.

26. Janelle Hames, 1:35:16; 27. Kelly Murray, 1:35:20; 28. Miriam Freas, 1:35:42; 29. Melinda Miller, 1:39:01; 30. Julie Harvey, 1:46:26; 31. Maria Sweppy, 2:01:11; 32. Kathy Hammer, 2:10:42; 33. Johna Beech, 2:27:50.

5K results — 1. Sadie Fox, 19:39; 2. Brenner Musgrave, 19:54 (1st male); 3. Joe Sandahl, 19:59; 4. Megan Bauder, 20:00; 5. Fox Michaud, 20:11; 6. Carl Kincaid, 20:48; 7. Ryan Kapp, 20:55; 8. Talon Musgrave, 21:19; 9. Nathan Kincaid, 21:19; 10. Chris Matson, 21:53; 11. Kevin Lauver, 21:56; 12. Jenny Dickinson, 21:57; 13. Tucker Mueller, 23:12; 14. John Roderick, 23:45; 15. Derek Lewis, 23:46; 16. Craig Hills, 24:06; 17. Ben Weagraff, 24:38; 18. Madison Orth, 26:01; 19. Kristine Moerlein, 26:03; 20. Dylan Hogue, 26:21; 21. Doug Hogue, 26:25; 22. Jane Fuerstenau, 26:30; 23. Didier Sourbes, 26:38; 24. Wendy Dean, 26:40; 25. Regina Theisen, 26:41.

26. Julie English, 26:43; 27. Marcelo Palacios, 26:50; 28. Samuel Anders, 26:56; 29. Nadia Anders, 27:18; 30. Christine Morin, 28:14; 31. Lanie Hughes, 28:33; 32. Amy Drake, 28:54; 33. MaCady Musgrave, 29:33; 34. Anchor Musgrave, 29:38; 35. Grayden Musgrave, 29:54; 36. Melodie Epperheimer, 30:10; 37. Sarah Pozonsky, 30:31; 38. Mitch Michaud, 30:35; 39. George Stein, 31:25; 40. Jasmine Klauder, 31:57; 41. Marylou Klauder, 31:57; 42. Danielle Hills, 32:02; 43. Chloe Deatherage, 32:11; 44. Sharon Radtke, 32:26; 45. Steve Cottman, 33:13; 46. Debbie Hosaflook, 33:21; 47. Karen Huff, 33:27; 48. Tony Oliver, 33:56; 49. Rinna Carson, 34:00; 50. Sandra Sterling, 34:17.

51. Matthew Lewis, 34:23; 52. Molly Bauder, 34:26; 53. Amelia Mueller, 34:29; 54. Meg Mueller, 34:32; 55. Marcus Mueller, 34:35; 56. Peggy Hills, 35:30; 57. Barbara McNinch, 35:30; 58. Viorica Thompson, 34:39; 59. Dwight Brown, 35:49; 60. Thomas Brown, 35:50; 61. Maryjane Hadaway, 36:44; 62. Robin Forsi, 36:54; 63. Ethan Hogue, 37:58; 64. Lani Lauver, 38:01; 65. Amy Hogue, 38:02; 66. Golden Musgrave, 38:06; 67. Blake Lewis, 38:06; 68. Corey Lewis, 38:07; 69. Owen Huff, 38:09; 70. Heather Huff, 38:10; 71. Jennifer Tollackson, 38:44; 72. Aiden Huff, 39:37; 73. Mary Bodnar, 39:57; 74. Rob Lewis, 40:05; 75. Penny Furnish, 40:28.

76. Matt Brown, 40:38; 77. Marjorie Dempster, 40:42; 78. Bill Hanson, 41:26; 79. Hydra Murray, 44:44; 80. Sammy Roderick, 45:49; 81. Brittany Lewis, 51:03; 82. Tiffany Musgrave, 51:16; 83. Colton Musgrave, 51:17; 84. Ted Forsi, 52:37; 85. Margaret Gilman, 52:40; 86. Blaine Gilman, 52:42; 87. Dotty Brown, 54:05; 88. Angie Brown, 54:06; 89. Connie Wheat, 54:06; 90. Suzanne Richards, 1:05:36.

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion Racers run down the side of the Kenai Spur Highway during the 5k portion of the annual Rotary Unity Run on Saturday July 11, 2015 in Soldotna, Alaska.

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion Racers run down the side of the Kenai Spur Highway during the 5k portion of the annual Rotary Unity Run on Saturday July 11, 2015 in Soldotna, Alaska.

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