For nearly a decade the Rotary Unity Run has become a local event far more important than just a well organized running and family fun event, it has become a run that draws participants of all ages from all over the country for various reasons. Some come to celebrate a honeymoon, anniversary, or to run with their great grand kids. For the community it’s a time to show their support for the various service and scholarship projects of the three local Rotary Clubs of the Central Peninsula. “When the Unity Trial was built as a pedestrian link between Kenai and Soldotna, several local Rotarians were inspired to use the avenue to link the local Rotary Clubs with a community supported family fun run. Nine years later the race continues, with three local Rotary Clubs along with the new River City Rotaract Club collaborating to put the event on. In addition to a great family event it has become an important date on the Alaska Runner’s Calendar. The Unity Run is an important fundraiser for the local Rotary Clubs that helps support their service projects throughout the year. The River City Rotaract Club for example is currently working on installing a new disk golf course at Tsalteshi Trails for the enjoyment of the growing population of disk golfers. The Kenai Rotary Club is continuing improvements to Daubenspeck Park working with the City of Kenai and building a new pavilion and horseshoe pits at no cost to the City. The Soldotna Rotary Club continues its work with the Central Peninsula Health Foundation in providing transportation services through the Fred Chambers RAFT program. The Kenai River Rotary Club is currently organizing a clean-up event at ARC Lake scheduled for August 4th. Unity Run event organizer Dale Bagley with the help of Rotaract member Rachel Chaffe put in place a new timing machine for the this year’s run. We were very pleased with the turnout at this year as the event continues to grow each year,” said Soldotna Rotary president Marcus Mueller. “The Unity Run is an important way to bring the communities together, and a great way for the Rotary Clubs to work together to serve the communities.
The local support is amazing and everyone had great time, the weather was cool and overcast which was great for the runners and made for some very fast times,” added Bagley. Mark Blanning turned in the fastest time for the 10 Mile run defeating last year’s Unity Run champion James Tangaro by almost eight minutes. “Those hills around miles six and seven take a bit out of you, but I got a good start and stayed out front,” Blanning told the Peninsula Clarion, “I was going to see if I could get in under an hour, but those hills knocked me back a bit, but I’m happy with the run.” In the women’s division the fastest time of the day went to Heather Gaines, “It’s a good course, flat and fast and if you work the hills just right, you can have a little left for the end. I did some speed work this week and that really helped,” she was quoted in the Clarion saying. Runners from Minnesota and California also competed in this year’s Rotary Unity Run.