It was a “suitable” finish for the final Salmon Run Series at Tsalteshi Trails. A series of weekly runs rather than a single event that was Alli Ostrander’s 2012 2nd Place Caring for the Kenai idea to benefit the Kenai Watershed Forum’s battle against invasive plant species. Now in its second year “Ali fan” and runner Mike Crawford thought one good idea deserves another so earlier this summer he said that if the community would pledge at least $500 he would run the final race in a suit and tie. Additionally he promised that if he didn’t finish in the top ten he would match the community’s pledge up to $1,000 dollars. Crawford garnered over $2,500 in community pledges and inspired some of the areas fastest cross country runners to enter the final race to guarantee that it would not be an easy jog to make the top ten.
Over 140 runners entered the final race that brought out everyone from the Borough Mayor to Alli’s family, teachers, supporters and friends. “It’s a pretty small town and maybe we were missing a couple but I think almost everyone was here,” kidded Alli as she scurried about coordinating the event and awarding door prizes. “It was awesome the feeling of support that everyone had from friends and family who turned out even though they weren’t running to cheer them on. For some it was their first race ever and others pushed their kids up the trail in strollers, it was amazing,” she said.
With a distance not much longer than the tie he was wearing Crawford placed ninth edging out the second place woman runner Gloria Park. “I really DO NOT recommend any one run in a suit and tie, it’s just awful!” panted Crawford after crossing the finish line. Even though he earned the right to keep his $1,000 pledge Mike after catching his breath reached into his suit pocket and brought out a rather damp and smudged check for $1,000 and presented it to Alli. In addition to the $2,500 in community pledges, Arby’s matched Crawford’s $1,000 and the Ostrander family $500 brought the unofficial total from the “Suit Up, Pledge Up!” Challenge to over $5,000 from the original idea of raising an extra $500.
According to Josselyn O’Connor, Kenai Watershed Forum (KWF) development director the second Salmon Run Series will exceed $12,000 when all is in and done. Funds will go to KWF educational programs and invasive plant eradication projects. Alli’s sister Taylor Ostrander was 1st in the women’s category and 6th overall. In a photo finish sprint to the finish line Micah Hilbish edged out Jordan Theisen by a split second and a time of 17:42. All race results are available at www.peninsulaclarion.com. Alli a KCHS Junior this year says she plans on continuing the Salmon Run Series for at least a couple more years, “For sure and I’ll be coming from college for my summers so you can expect to see this around for quite a few years,” she said. Will the “Suit Up” Challenge be on for next year? “I can’t say right now but we’ll probably think of something creative so stay tuned,” said Crawford.