Run for the River draws over 260

Ovarian cancer survivor Jenn Sommermann, 47, believes running saved her life.

 

Ethiopia native and former orphan Mekbeb Denbrock, 8, dreams of one day competing in the Olympics.

Soldotna resident Tony Oliver, 54, feels healthy, finally, free of a 30-year smoking habit and no longer tipping the scale at 300 pounds.

Hundreds of athletes descended Saturday morning on Soldotna Creek Park for Run for the River, an annual five-kilometer or 10-mile run/walk benefiting the Kenai River and Kenai River Festival.

The event was sponsored by Central Peninsula Hospital and hosted by the Kenai Watershed Forum, a nonprofit.

“Running saved my life,” said Sommermann, who lives in New York City.
Sommermann was diagnosed with late-stage ovarian cancer, made a full recovery and is now on a five-year tour across America in which she plans to run a footrace in all 50 states.

Her goal is to raise $100,000 for the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, with an emphasis on early detection. Alaska is state No. 25 on her trip. Georgia was No. 24 and North Dakota will be No. 26.

She works four jobs in New York because the project is coming out-of-pocket, and she is unsure when or where the tour will end because most races are scheduled no more than a year in advance. She flies back and forth between New York and the competitions.

On Saturday, her aim was to educate other women, and other runners, about the disease.

“I knew something wasn’t right,” Sommermann said of how she felt before the cancer was discovered. “I shouldn’t be alive. Hopefully this will help other women learn what they can do.”

Mekbeb ran the 5K with his brother, Maleda Denbrock, 6, and their legal guardian Jake Denbrock of Soldotna, who along with his wife, Robin, adopted the boys about five years ago from an Ethiopian orphanage.

The Denbrocks run together on a daily basis, competing in races across the state.

Mekbeb, the older of the two brothers, said he enjoys the sport because it allows him to move around and burn energy.

He doesn’t shy away from competition, either, perhaps explaining his Olympic ambitions.

“I like to win,” he said, grinning.

Jake Denbrock attached a ribbon to his chest while he ran to honor friend Gretchen Kraus, who suffered a near-fatal fall during a 120-mile bicycle ride from Houston to Talkeetna, and back, for the Clean Air Challenge in May.

Kraus hit a rough spot on the road in Talkeetna, Jake said, and fell deep into a ravine, losing a kidney and about 70 percent of her liver.

She was rescued, but spent 21 days in a hospital and has yet to fully recover.

“This day is for Gretchen,” Denbrock said.  

Oliver’s life, meanwhile, took a 180-degree turn for the better once he quit smoking and started running.

The triathlete wore a pink tutu and the same-colored shirt while running the 5K.

With AC/DC blaring in his headphones, Oliver was steady but not blistering in his race to the finish.

“You’d be a having a beer for me,” he said of why he chose the 5K over the 10-miler.

Oliver has competed in about 40 triathlon events and plans to participate in next year’s Auckland Half Ironman in New Zealand.

He also is the co-director of the Tri-the-Kenai, a triathlon that will be held today at Skyview High School, and said his message to children, or anyone who will listen, is simple: “What you have to do is not smoke, be healthy and stay active,” he said.

Others, like Justine Reese of Kenai, took a more competitive approach.

Reese, 27, crossed the finish line in 22 minutes, 28.27 seconds, to win the women’s 5K race. Jenny Neyman captured the 10-miler in 1:16.26.

Reese, a former smoker, began running about three years ago.

“I didn’t want to get fat,” she said.

Reese participated in the 2011 Boston Marathon after running between 60 and 70 miles a week on a treadmill last winter.

Although she doesn’t plan on competing in the Boston Marathon next year, she said running will remain a large part of her life.

Meanwhile, Luke Oliver, 28, placed second in the men’s long competition in 1:03.43 behind Mark Blanning (1:02.35). Lars Arneson won the 5K in 18:00.07.

Luke Oliver will participate in the Mayor’s Marathon next weekend. He said he used Run for the River as a primer for the next competition.

The Soldotna resident will soon move to Chicago for school, but he left his footprint on the central Kenai Peninsula. He won the 2009 and 2010 Kenai River Marathons.

Luke Oliver’s reason for running is simple.

“Because I can,” Oliver said. “I love it. It allows me to push myself.”

Run for the River

Women’s 10-mile race
1. Jenny Neyman, 1:16.26; 2. Teresa Fobert, 1:18.28; 3. Satorine Jackson, 1:20.16; 4. Pamela Winders, 1:22.53; 5. Brodie Kimmel, 1:23.20; 6. Nettie Keller, 1:23:43; 7. Kara Reown, 1:24:42; 8. Kristy Berington, 1:25.48; 9. Andrea Berington, 1:25.49; 10. Patrice Kohl, 1:26.15; 11. Hadassah Udelhoven, 1:29.02.9; 12. Candy Goldstein, 1:30.23; 13. Jennifer Jackson, 1:31.29; 14. Kristine Morris, 1:34.33; 15. Ellen    Gray, 1:35.55; 16. Yvonee Leutwyler, 1:35.55; 17. Angie Nelson, 1:36.23; 18. Shelli Furlong, 1:36.27; 19. Melanie Papp, 1:42.29; 20. Tracy    Foister, 1:42.32; 21. Janice Habermann, 1:42.34; 22. Marian Werth, 1:42.35; 23. Lynda Blake, 1:45.24; 24. Emily Flatau, 1:46.29; 25. Gina Smith, 1:50.17; 26. Lisa Parker, 1:51.41; 27. Maria Sweppy, 1:51.59.3; 28. Dana Hunter, 2:00.50; 29. Stacie Meyer, 2:00.50; 30. Mary    Lambe, 2:01.55; 31. Stephanie Lambe, 2:01.56.

Men’s 10-mile race
1. Mark Blanning, 1:02:35; 2. Luke Oliver, 1:03:43; 3. Shawn Donnelly, 1:09:45; 4. Steve Morris, 1:10:02; 5. Kent Peterson, 1:11:32; 6. Aaron Minks, 1:11:59; 7. Scott Bloom, 1:15:35; 8. Bruce Davison, 1:16:58; 9. Rob Mielke, 1:19:05; 10. Curtis Brown, 1:23:40; 11. Jeff Smith, 1:26:43; 12. Shane Udelhoven, 1:31:00; 13. David Norcross, 1:33:00; 14. Jamie Nelson, 1:33:48; 15. Sam Christman, 1:36:49; 16. Scott Burke, 1:41:10; 17. John Boatright, 1:58:51; 18. Robert Lewis Jr., 1:59:25.

Women’s five-kilometer race
1. Justine Reese, 22:28; 2. Brooke Forsi, 23:38; 3. Shawna Cooper, 23:58; 4. Sue Seggerman, 23:59; 5. Freya Chay, 24:00; 6. Anna Widman, 24:26; 7. Jenna Calhoun, 24:46; 8. Charlotte Saavedra, 25:18; 9. Sarah Walton, 25:18; 10. Krista Arthur, 25:53; 11. Elizabeth Cristiano, 25:58; 12. Hannah Pothast, 26:02; 13. Rebeka Heames, 26:03; 14. Olivia Hutchings, 26:06; 15. Devin Hutchings, 26:06; 16. Kim Murray, 26:50; 17. Whitney Martin, 26:57; 18. Breanna Bloom, 27:02; 19. Josie Juskewicz, 27:12; 20. Tracy Pitts, 27:33; 21. Viorica Thompson, 27:37; 22. Carrie Henson, 27:54; 23. Tamra Higgins, 28:02; 24. Emily Rohloff, 28:12; 25. Danika Summer, 28:36. 26. Regina Daniels, 28:42; 27. Tiffany Ley, 28:47; 28. Lara Griffen, 28:54; 29. Faith Widman, 28:58; 30. Alica Anderson, 29:02; 31. Brittany Taylor, 29:02; 32. Lauren Olendorff, 29:18; 33. Jenny Olendorff, 29:18; 34. Krystin Habighorst, 29:21; 35. Katy Rullman, 29:25; 36. Sierra Carr, 24:43; 37. Jenn Sommerman, 29:44; 38. Lisa Jackson, 29:50; 39. Rachel Lowe, 29:55; 40. Lanie Hughes, 30:07; 41. Kasie Scheer, 30:21; 42. Sue Comstock, 30:24; 43. Morgan Kasmider, 30:30; 44. Jennifer Cowan, 30:40; 45. Laura Goldsby, 30:41; 46. Rhianna Carr, 30:55; 47. Cheryl Brown, 31:02; 48. Jacquelyn Wetzel, 31:09; 49. Shelly Peterson, 31:18; 50. Heidi Chay, 31:19. 51. Jane Fuerstenau, 31:20; 52. Kelly Hitchcock, 31:23; 53. Rachel Erickson, 31:30; 54. Amanda Burg, 31:49; 55. Elizabeth Leduc, 32:07; 56. Carolyn Roush, 32:40; 57. Hope Mishler, 32:47; 58. Jennifer Powell, 32:51; 59. Erin Boehme, 33:17; 60. Melissa Tafoya, 33:26; 61. Michelle Papp, 33:26; 62. Maya Chay, 33:27; 63. Mike Morton, 33:29; 64. Christine Morin, 33:30; 65. Jessica Perry, 33:36; 66. Amber McGlasson, 33:38; 67. Melanie Noblin, 33:39; 68. Terri Cowart, 34:01; 69. Caitlin Martin, 34:03; 70. Naomi Barker, 34:06; 71. Laura Wilhelm, 34:15; 72. Jennifer Calhoun, 34:24; 73. Ryann Cannava, 34:37; 74. Dana Cannava, 34:37; 75. Janelle Hames, 34:42. 76. Cindy Detrow, 35:02; 77. Elizabeth Walter, 35:25; 78. Kellie Arthur, 35:25; 79. Tiffany Collier, 35:58; 80. Marly Perschbacher, 36:01; 81. Melissa Blake, 36:10; 82. Lisa Renken, 36:40; 83. Treava Schmitter-Schrier, 37:07; 84. Rebekah Summer, 37:33; 85. Megan Anderson, 38:39; 86. Coral Hoffman, 38:40; 87. Cameron Blackwell, 38:45; 88. Ali Dusek, 38:45; 89. Meg Summer, 38:49; 90. Madalyn McCurdy, 38:50; 91. Molly Copple, 39:04; 92. Lori Forrest, 39:09; 93. Cassie Collins, 39:23; 94. Whitney Adams, 39:32; 95. Kelley Smith, 39:42; 96. Ali Wykis, 39:44; 97. Gwendolyn Cooper, 39:44; 98. LeiLani Jolliffe, 39:49; 99. Alyssa Murphy, 39:54; 100. Johna Beech, 40:12; 101. Lauren Fraser, 40:16; 102. Lisa Schmitter, 40:28; 103. Leslie Morton, 40:28; 104. Pat Walton, 41:03; 105. Sabrina Hames, 41:10; 106. Kara Schreur, 41:52; 107. Margo Reilly, 41:52; 108. Shelby Davison, 42:45; 109. Kelly Hicks, 43:27; 110. Shannon Dosko, 43:31; 111. Hannah Delker, 43:35; 112. Haley Buckbee, 43:35; 113. Anne Buckbee, 43:36; 114. Michaela Buckbee, 43:36; 115. Peg Beilfuss, 43:48; 116. Leah Updike, 44:08; 117. Debbie Yancy, 44:19; 118. Taylor Earll, 44:46; 119. Jamie Earll, 45:02; 120. DeLaine Richards, 45:23; 121. Lindsey Kerr, 45:24; 122. Morgan Davidhizer, 46:32; 123. Bonnie Garwood, 46:53; 124. Casey Earll, 46:55; 125. Jennifer Quinty, 47:57.

Men’s five-kilometer race
1. Lars Arneson, 18:00; 2. Brad Beuter, 20:19; 3. Fox Michaud, 21:11; 4. Evan Atchley, 21:23; 5. River Calloway, 22:48; 6. Michael Stangel Jr, 22:56; 7. Adam McClure, 23:00; 8. Josh Holly, 23:19; 9. Brenner Furlong, 23:30; 10. Steve Kothlow, 0:24; 11. Michael Stangel, 24:06; 12. Alain Cloutier, 24:23; 13. Jon Gorder, 24:24; 14. Matthew Bullerdick, 24:32; 15. Daniel Lewis, 24:41; 16. Brian Dusek, 24:42; 17. Mekbeb Denbrock, 24:47; 18. Ben Hanson, 24:50; 19. Nick Murray, 25:05; 20. Ryan Kapp, 25:46; 21. Jason Buckbee, 25:57.1; 22. Nick    Higgins, 26:02; 23. Skip Hendricks, 26:23; 24. Shawn Hutcitings, 26:29; 25. Jesse Tapley, 26:34; 26. Tom Seggeiman, 26:51; 27. Connor Maloney, 27:21; 28. David Martin, 27:22; 29. Kurt Strausbaugh, 27:26; 30. Dan Chay, 28:00; 31. Darin Hagen, 28:11; 32. Lawrence Sauer, 28:29; 33. Jay Rohloff, 28:43; 34. Pete Sprague, 29:00; 35. Scott Davis, 29:10; 36. Rob Rodgers, 29:12; 37. Kevin Rullman, 29:25; 38. Harry Smith, 29:40; 39. Tanner Best, 30:22; 40. Jeff Perschbacher, :30:34; 41. Shane Cooper, 30:36; 42. Rob Hunter, 30:52; 43. Scott    Travis, 30:58; 44. Tim Cowan, 31:09; 45. Mark Beilfuss, :31:14; 46. Rich Stables, 31:19; 47. Kim Schnell, 31:42; 48. Jacob Gondek, 31:42; 49. Glenn Tinker, 32:24; 50.  Adam Wilhelm, 32:51; 51. Bob Usab (morton), 33:25; 52. Tony Oliver, 33:40; 53. Maleda Denbrock, 34:47; 54. Jake Denbrock, 34:47; 55. Jackson Blackwell, 34:54; 56. Paul Anderson, 35:04; 57. Chad Arthur, 35:06.8; 58. Dale Bagley, 36:21; 59. Lance    Hunt, 37:42; 60. Kerry Noblin, 38:04; 61. Daryl Palmer, 39:12; 62. Jim Kimes, 40:06; 63. Stephen Hart, 40:50; 64. Marty Monsaas, 44:20; 65. Ron Williamson, 45:43; 66. Dylan Davidhizer, 46:31; 67. LeRoy Hovious, 46:37; 68. Ted Forsi, 48:51; 69. Dylan Hogue, 48:52; 70. Doug    Hogue, 48:52; 71. John Morton, 50:26; 72. J.D. Elson, 50:32; 73. Joe Cannava, 50:41; 74. Erich Schnell, :51:08.6; 75. Erik Barnes, 52:02; 76. Nate Lambert, 52:37; 77. David Birchfield, 52:53; 78. Sean Dusek, 55:07; 79. Joe Hart, 57:34; 80. Cory Whitely, 58:47; 81. Gary    Stackhouse, 1:00:00; 82. Eric Treider, 1:01:02; 83. Greg Matturro, 1:03:34; 84. Andrew McClure, 1:03:40; 85. Glen Arundell, 1:03:42; 86. Jerry Rombach, 1:03:45; 87. Ethan Hogue, 1:04:59; 88. Ryan Crapps, 1:05:46.

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