“Finish the Fight” is the motto for the 17th annual Central Peninsula Relay for Life.
It just as easily could have been the motto for the Relay for Life 5K fun run/walk at Tsalteshi Trails.
The event didn’t even originate as a run/walk. Twice this winter, it was scheduled for a ski event, but lack of snow washed if from the calendar both times.
So the event was rescheduled for a fun run/walk on May 24. But that lack of winter snow had meshed with a balmy spring to create peak wildfire conditions, and smoke from the Funny River Horse Trail fire forced the May 24 event to be postponed — again.
The event finally went off Friday, falling just late enough in the summer that anybody stopping to a walking pace was immediately enveloped by mosquitoes.
But Johna Beech, event chair for Central Peninsula Relay for Life, wasn’t about to complain. The first-year partnership with the Tsalteshi Trails Association had, at last, resulted in an event.
“A huge shoutout to Tsalteshi Trails Association for partnering with us and being so patient with rescheduling,” Beech said. “Everybody came out even though it was raining a little bit and the bugs were nasty.
“A huge thank you to everybody.”
The event raised about $1,550 for Relay for Life, putting the fundraising effort about $10,000 short of the goal of raising $67,000 by Aug. 31. The funds go to the American Cancer Society.
The fun run/walk was won by a couple of high school students. Jordan Theisen, who just completed his junior year at Kenai Central, ran 18 minutes, 25 seconds, on the rolling course to win the men’s race. Todd Boonstra, a past Olympic skier and Mount Marathon champion, was second at 19:34.
Olivia Hutchings, who just completed her sophomore year at Soldotna, was the top woman at 21:52, while Riana Boonstra, who just completed eighth grade at Kenai Middle School, was second at 22:55.
The Tsalteshi event is not the only time this year Relay for Life has battled weather and other agents of calamity.
On May 30 and 31, Relay for Life held its main event at the Kenai Central High School track. Winds were so torrential that the roof on the grandstand of Coral Seymour Memorial Park, just a short walk away from Kenai Central, was torn off.
The closing ceremony had to be scrubbed, so it was resheduled for after the Tsalteshi event. But the deluge of bugs once again kept the ceremony from taking place.
Beech has been the Relay for Life chair for three years and the co-chair for two years before that. In her time participating in Relay for Life, she remembers nothing like this year.
“This year, by far, the weather has been the most memorable,” she said. “With those winds — we’ve never had to shut down the relay before, and we had to shut it down this year.
“I don’t want to say the weather has been the worst, but it’s been the most challenging.”
Michael Webber was the top individual fundraiser this year, with $3,145, while Joseph Yourkoski was next at $1,460 and Allison Gottseman followed at $1,010.
The top team was Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church with $7,427.49, while Central Peninsula Hospital got $4,662 and Kenai DJJ and friends got $3,143.37.
The next fundraising event will be New Beginnings Fitness Center’s Mud Run on Saturday.
Beyond specific events, donations can be made by going to www.relayforlife.org/kenaiak, or by stopping by the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center.
Beech said Relay for Life has had trouble meeting its fundraising goal in recent years because teams and sponsorships have been down.
But she doesn’t want to get wrapped up in that because $1 that results in a met goal fights just as much cancer as $1 toward a goal not met.
“I appreciate the effort put forth,” Beech said. “A lot of people are like, ‘Oh, you didn’t meet your goal.’ I look at it that we’ve raised about $55,000, with the potential to raise quite a bit more.”
Relay for Life fun run/walk
Friday at Tsalteshi Trails
1. Jordan Theisen, 18 minutes, 25 seconds; 2. Todd Boonstra, 19:34; 3. Kent Peterson, 20:54; 4. Shawn Goff, 21:10; 5. Olivia Hutchings, 21:52; 6. Carl Kincaid, 22:04; 7. Jacob Sundberg, 22:40; 8. Jeff Helminiak, 22:46; 9. Riana Boonstra, 22:55; 10. Emily Werner, 23:40; 11. Addison Gibson, 23:41; 12. Kelli Boonstra, 24:02; 13. Kevin Lauver, 24:26; 14. Ryan Nelson, 25:18; 15. Jane Fuerstena, 25:42; 16. Connor Wahl, 27:04; 17. Trevor Wittins, 27:42; 18. Dan Pascucci, 27:49; 19. Regina Theisen, 28:04; 20. Morgan Aldridge, 28:19; 21. Dana Cannava, 29:31; 22. Jim Krein, 29:35; 23. Dylan Hogue, 30:46; 24. Doug Hogue, 30:47; 25. Elizabeth Leduc, 30:50.
26. Dana McDonald, 31:19; 27. Tucker Mueller, 31:44; 28. Mitch Michaud, 31:57; 29. Julie English, 32:03; 30. Mary Wittins, 32:40; 31. Cassie Collins, 32:48; 32. Charlene Spiers, 32:58; 33. Katie Swaby, 33:43; 34. Megan Mackey, 33:59; 35. Bridgett Dyson, 34:00; 36. Maria Sweppy, 34:32; 37. Grace Morrow, 35:17; 38. Will Morrow, 35:17; 39. Jordan Ruffner, 35:26; 40. Amy Hogue, 35:27; 41. Melody Niichel, 35:36; 42. Harmony Curtis, 35:36; 43. Tony Oliver, 36:58; 44. Amelia Mueller, 37:10; 45. Meg Mueller, 37:14; 46. Tim Wahl, 37:34; 47. Crystal Rodriguez, 38:12; 48. Antonio Rodriguez, 38:12; 49. Alias Smalley, 39:00; 50. Rinna Carson, 39:06.
51. Darby Milburn, 40:48; 52. Amy Milburn, 43:26; 53. Hunter Sundberg, 43:39; 54. Susie Smalley, 43:59; 55. Billy Morrow, 44:29; 56. Kristin Morrow, 44:29; 57. Jeremy Sundberg, 47:12; 58. Tammy Sundberg, 48:07; 59. Lily Rodriguez, 50:10; 60. Cassandra Winslow, 50:26; 61. Dawni Guibler, 50:34; 62. Kellen Webster, 52:04; 63. Chris Erwin, 52:06.