Tangled up in Blue: A few Irish steps

Kat Sorensen runs along a crossover trail on the descent on July 4, 2019, during the 92nd Mount Marathon Race in Seward, Alaska. (Photo courtesy of Kat Sorensen)

Kat Sorensen runs along a crossover trail on the descent on July 4, 2019, during the 92nd Mount Marathon Race in Seward, Alaska. (Photo courtesy of Kat Sorensen)

In their extravagant dresses and tightly wound curls, my cousins would dance their weekends away.

Irish stepdancing is marked by intricate footwork coupled with a stoic upper body. When they danced, I would watch the curls bounce and bounce, their legs moving in methodical chaos and their arms still by their side and would think, “I could never do that.”

They were able to travel the world through dancing and make trips out of of every Feis, the traditional Gaelic arts and culture festivals that would take them to cities across the country and Ireland. They could make wild flailing of their legs beautiful, thoughtfully taking each step and connecting it all in an elegant flow.

Meanwhile, I was kicked out of ballet lessons because I didn’t have the grace.

I always thought that I would get some as I grew older, find a way to float when I walked or move my body in a way that was more like a butterfly and less like a bulldozer. But, the grace never came.

When I dance, I flail. Actually, when I do most things, I flail.

Weekly throughout the summer, I would climb Mount Marathon with friends, training for the iconic Fourth of July race and find my body fast flailing the whole way down the mountain.

As a second-time racer, I was looking for any tips or tricks I could use to shave off time for a personal record. Lucky for me, I got a lot of them from Fred Moore, who ran his 50th consecutive Mount Marathon Race this year.

Training with him up the racer’s trail, I would fall behind while he followed his routes and passed each tree, bush and rock as if they were old friends.

There is not much grace in climbing a mountain, it’s mostly brute force, but at the summit when all of Seward is below you and the real hard part is behind you, it’s easy to feel lithe.

And that lissomeness is amplified on the downhill. With the shale of Mount Marathon below your feet, runners descending the peak seem to float from the top down.

On one trip down the racer’s trail, my legs were reaching far ahead for any soft spot of scree to slide into and my hands were bouncing in the air near my shoulders helping to maintain my balance.

Fred was below me, precisely placing each foot with his arms at his side. In the methodical chaos of descending Mount Marathon, he was dancing.

He stopped ahead of me to give me some advice.

“Kick your feet out and back at an even pace, so you know when and where each step is going to land. Have them kick in front of you and come back in.”

So … stop flailing?

“I could probably do that,” I said.

My arms were still all over the place, an Irish dancer’s worst nightmare, but I found my legs kicking out and pulling back in with a rhythm.

I kept thinking about each step, about where it needed to land and the step that would follow suit. After a few dozen pairs of steps, I was bouncing along down and into the shale, going down the mountain faster than I ever had before, toeing the line between flailing and floating.

It wasn’t graceful, by any definition, but I’m getting there.

More in Sports

Nikiski’s America Jeffreys celebrates a point with her team Friday, Sept. 27, 2019, against ACS at Nikiski High School. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)
Nikiski’s Jeffreys to play basketball at Bushnell

Staff report America Jeffreys, a 2020 graduate of Nikiski High School, signed… Continue reading

Jode Sparks runs to victory in the 10-mile men’s run at the Mouth to Mouth Wild Run and Ride on Monday, May 28, 2018, at the Kenai beach. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Races adjust to new coronavirus

Organizers have had to decide how to change their events to match the times.

The women’s field takes to the course Tuesday, July 4, 2017, at the Mount Marathon Race in Seward, Alaska. Eventual winner Allie Ostrander is to the right of Christy Marvin (1). (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Mount Marathon Race canceled for 2020

The 93rd running of the race up and down the 3,022-foot mountain is rescheduled for July 4, 2021.

Chugiak’s Tyler Huffer stiff-arms Soldotna’s Hudson Metcalf during a scrimmage Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019, at Justin Maile Field in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
4 SoHi players to join college programs

A 2020 Soldotna High graduate class that was a key part of… Continue reading

(Photo provided)
Tangled Up in Blue: Blunt cuts

I cut my own hair last night. After months of new coronavirus… Continue reading

Refuge Notebook: The roles of morels

While people have been taking advantage of the abundance of morels following… Continue reading

The Kenai River can be seen from the Funny River Campground on Sunday, June 23, 2019, in Funny River, Alaska. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
Area fishing guides hit hard by pandemic

“If the quarantine doesn’t come off pretty soon, I think we’ll just be out of luck this year.”

Tri-The-Kenai may be gone for good

The 10th running of the event this year would have been June 14.

Post 20 first baseman Seth Adkins tags out Axel Shanks of Napoleon (Ohio) Post 300 on Wednesday, July 3, 2019, at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska. Twins pitcher Mose Hayes picked off Shanks. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Peninsula will have high school summer baseball

There will be high school baseball this summer. Only it will have… Continue reading

Most Read