It started when high school freshman Allie Ostrander had to come up with an idea for the Caring for the Kenai (CFK) competition. The science and language arts curricular program challenges high school students to answer the prompt, “What can I do, invent or create to better care for the environment of the Kenai Peninsula or help prepare for a natural disaster?” Allie Ostrander loves to run and in the last three years has set a number of state distant running records winning several state championships and becoming the only woman in her age group to win the grueling Mount Marathon four times in a row. “I love to run and I wanted to share that love with others so I started the Salmon Run Series as my CFK project to raise money for kids to go to Kenai Watershed Forum (KWF)summer camps and fund habitat restoration projects,” said Allie. Now in its third year the Salmon Run Series has become one of the most popular running events on the Peninsula with 124 participants in last week’s 5K run and 28 kids six years and under for the new kids 1 K Salmon Run. In its first two years the Salmon Run Series raised over $15,000 according to KWF development director Josselyn O’Connor and with the increasing participation might just double that by the end of the five event series this year.
New this year to the Salmon Run Series is the youth division for kids six and under, “It starts at six before the adult race and is only a $5.00 donation and parents can accompany the kids if necessary. It’s so great to see the event grow. The first week we had six or eight kids run the 1 K on a rainy night but they loved it getting all wet and finishing the race and then this week we had 28 kids some with butterfly wings and it was so much fun leading them around the course and seeing them have so much fun outdoors, working hard and not complaining and running for a purpose,” said Ostrander. The adult race also drew a record number of 124 runners with Rex Shields continuing to dominate the event with 1st place time of 18:27, followed by Derek Gibson at 18:52 and Jordan Theisen in at 19:28. In an exciting photo finish a vacationer from Colorado Jonathon Carsten challenged Allie’s father Paul Ostrander almost passing him to the finish line before Ostrander saw him coming and surged to take 10th place by a half second. Coming in first for the women’s run was Allie’s sister Taylor Ostrander taking fourth overall with a time of 20:51. The final Salmon Run Series will be held at Tsalteshi Trails on Wednesday August 6th.
Ostrander graduates from KCHS next spring and will be off to college but says the Salmon Run Series will continue, “It will be continuing whether I’m the race director or someone else takes that spot I’m sure it will continue for many years to come. This year I’ve been training volunteers how everything is done so if I don’t come back next summer they’ll know what to do. Running for the purpose of benefiting the river and future salmon runs is a lot of fun. I’m really grateful for the CFK assignment because without it I never would have had the ambition to try something like this as just a high school kid. It’s awesome and I’m grateful for everyone’s support especially Tesoro who not only sponsors the CFK but the Salmon Run Series as well along with Central Peninsula Hospital,” she said. Complete Salmon Run results are posted on the Salmon Run Series face book page.