Celebrating clean water, healthy salmon, and healthy people, 67 runners and bikers (and a few of their canine friends) from Anchorage to Soldotna to Homer turned out Saturday, June 14th for the first Mouth to Mouth Wild Run & Ride. “We were talking about river mouths and it was the first event of its kind on the Peninsula,” explained event co-coordinator Kaitlin Vadla. Participants ran, fat biked, or mountain biked 10 miles from the mouth of the Kenai River to the mouth of the Kasilof River along the beach at low tide. The event was sponsored by three local non-profits, Cook Inletkeeper, Kenai Watershed Forum, and Tsalteshi Trails Association and proceeds went to supporting clean water and healthy salmon in the Cook Inlet Watershed.
Average time to finish was about one hour and 40 minutes. Most bikers opted for 4” fat bike tires to navigate the patches of soft beach sand and gravel, but a few braved it on regular mountain bikes. The youngest participant, Dylan Hogue, age 11, rode the whole course on a regular mountain bike. Tom and Stephanie Kobylarz not only finished the course on regular mountain bikes, but also towed their two daughters on tagalongs. Giuliana Houchin ran the whole 10 miles of beach pushing her baby in a stroller according to Vadla.
Who came up with the cheeky, racy name of Mouth to Mouth? “Short answer: Mike Crawford, of course. Long answer: Last winter, Mike Crawford asked me if I wanted to go fat biking. Whenever biking is a question, my answer is always, yes! He asked where I wanted to ride. Cooper Landing? He suggested. How about the beach? I offered, we could go from the Kenai all the way to the Kasilof. “Mouth to Mouth,” exclaimed Mike. And there you have it. The story of how Mouth to Mouth Wild Run & Ride got its name. As for the event, I wanted it to be a combination of everything I loved: family, friends, food, beach, beer, bonfire, outdoor recreation, advocacy, clean water, wild salmon, views of Mt. Redoubt, and a good dash of silliness. It was a great event, with many coming together to pull it off,” she said.
Derek Meier was the top men’s biker, finishing in 55 minutes, 22 seconds. Sarah Webster was the first place women’s biker with a time of 1:05.46. The first runner to cross the Kasilof finish line was Trey Perry, topping the men’s foot race at 1:09.06. The first woman runner was Debbie Cropper at 1:24.09. “Cropper, who has run in over 80 marathons, said the finish line was great.
Those sandwiches rocked! she said of post-race food provided by Odie’s Deli. Finishers were welcomed with a finish-line bonfire, beer courtesy of Kenai River Brewery, and s’more’s courtesy of Kasilof Mercantile. Kaladi’s coffee caffeinated racers at the start line, helping them make it all 10 miles down the beach to the finish.
Top finishers in each category received a $50 certificate to Beemun’s Bike & Ski loft, and Sportsman’s Warehouse sponsored prizes for the youngest participant, Dylan Hogue, and silliest salmon costume, Carmen Stephl and Paul Tornow.