Watkins takes 10-miler: Kenai Central graduate wins at long distance on 1st try

Posted: Sunday, July 19, 2009

Molly Watkins had run five kilometers before, even 10.

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Photo By Matthew Carroll
Photo By Matthew Carroll
Jake Denbrock runs down the Kenai Spur Highway on Saturday morning as part of the Rotary Unity Run's five-kilometer event.

But 10 miles?

Perhaps, while out for a run, by accident.

"When I lost track of how far I was going. But never intentionally," Watkins said. "Never even at a slow pace."

The 2009 Kenai Central graduate can't say that anymore.

In her first-ever attempt at 10 miles, Watkins breezed from her former high school, down the Kenai Spur Highway and into the Soldotna High School parking lot in 1 hour, 13 minutes, 26.9 seconds, winning the women's 10-mile portion of the 2009 Rotary Unity Run on a pleasant Saturday morning.

"I feel like I'm stronger. I pushed to the edge of what I could do," she said. "So I'm proud of myself for that and for sticking up with the people." Now that Watkins knows she can finish it, will she be trying it again in the near future?

"Not soon," she laughed. "But maybe."

Jenny Neyman took second in the women's 10-mile jaunt, finishing in 1:16:29.2; with Kristy Berington placing third in 1:17:56.2.

Cook Inlet Academy graduate Lars Arneson won the men's 10-miler, crossing the finish line in 1:04:39.9, ahead of second-place finisher Bill Coghill (1:07:27.4) and third-placer Eric Willets (1:08:09.1).

Anchorage's Ryan Cox, who attends Liberty University in Virginia, cruised to the five-kilometer title in 15:52.6, followed by Mathias Nees (19:00.7) in second and Ryan Walton (19:11), a 2004 SoHi grad, in third.

Rosika Nees won the women's five-kilometer race in 19:42, while Sarah Walton (20:29.1) finished second and Catherine West (21:23.5) third.

Having placed third and first in the 5K in years past, Watkins thought third place was attainable, knowing a handful of other top runners in the area may be in attendance.

When none of those familiar faces appeared upon arrival, she began to change her tune.

"We were on the bus and I was kind of scoping out the people," she joked. "It's like, 'OK, well she has really nice running shoes.'"

Despite never running all 10 miles on the path that runs parallel to the highway, Watkins still knows it like the back of her hand.

"I was kind of watching the trail and marking places sort of where I'd want to stay strong," she said of the bus ride to Kenai Central. "I just said, 'I know that trail.'

"Anybody who runs for Kenai knows that. We run it for every sport. I know where every mile marker is, I know every little uphill, downhill."

What she wasn't familiar with, however, was the end.

"That's why it got hard in the residential area because I don't live in Soldotna," she said. "I kept thinking this was the end, but it wasn't."

Keeping her occupied along the way were the digital thermometers lining the street posted in front of local business. The first one she encountered put her at ease.

"You always hear the perfect running temperature is 50 to 55 degrees, and when I was running past the sign for Kenai Auto it was 55 degrees," Watkins said. "Then the next sign it was 59 and then 61 and I was like, 'Whoa, I'm feeling it now.'"

But she persevered like never before, an experience reminiscent of competing in the 50-kilometer portion of the Tour of Anchorage cross-country skiing event.

"I had never done anything like it," she said of the Tour. "And it was that same thing where my mind knows I still have seven miles more to go or whatever, so I don't get tired. But when I get down to three miles or two miles, then it's like I just want to be done."

And then she was.

After drinking some water and relaxing for a bit, Watkins spoke of joining the skiing and running clubs at the University of Minnesota during her freshman year this coming fall.

All of a sudden, she talked about running a longer distance than what she had just accomplished.

"I'm thinking about maybe training for a marathon later, maybe," she smiled. "I don't know. But this felt pretty darn long."

Not for Arneson, who is heading to the University of Alaska Fairbanks to continue both cross country running and skiing.

"Last year (in the 5K) I just got done with a running camp and run a half-marathon the day before, so I just took it easy," said Arneson, who runs six days a week and won the 10-miler his first attempt. "I got a side stitch at like mile three to like mile five. ... It slowed (me) down a little but not a lot.

"I wasn't going for the win but it was good," he added. "I'm glad I was able to keep my pace."

So was Cox, 19, who hasn't been running as much as normal due to an injured foot.

He still experienced little trouble in defending his 5K crown.

"It's good to know that I can run sub-16s because I wasn't sure if I could or not right now," he said. "It's good to be able to do that again."

After a swift opening mile, Cox said he slowed down for his second before finishing strong.

"I didn't want to push it too hard and injure myself again," said the cross country and track athlete. "So I kind of just eased off on that second mile."

Commissioned as a navigator as part of the ROTC at New Mexico State University, Walton, 23, had no difficulty navigating the hilly course despite running the music last year instead of the race.

"I wanted to do the best I could. But I saw some quick guys out there so we ran together, me and my buddy here for a while, and then we spread apart," he said. "I tried to catch that guy in first but goodness, he was moving."

With an upcoming fitness test in September consisting of push-ups, sit-ups and a 1.5-mile run, he admitted he hasn't been training as much as he should.

"Definitely a cramming session," Walton joked. "There was a learning curve."

With the running part down, now all he needs to practice are the other two components to the challenge.

"The push-ups and sit-ups, always my weakness," he laughed. "I've got the legs but not the upper body."

Matthew Carroll can be reached at matthew.carroll@peninsulaclarion.com.

Rotary Unity Run


Men's 10-mile

1. Lars Arneson, 1:04.39.9; 2. Bill Coghill, 1:07.27.4; 3. Eric Willets, 1:08:09.1; 4. Steve Gilles, 1:12:55.5; 5. Mark Dixson, 1:13.00.6; 6. Michael Strangel, 1:14.54.9; 7. Joel Cannava, 1:16.03.4; 8. Nick Bluth, 1:25.31.7; 9. John Hedges, 1:25.32.3; 10. Rick Bluth, 1:25.36.4; 11. M. Scott Moon, 1:29.12.3; 12. Chris Bowen, 1:41.24.1.

Women's 10-mile

1. Molly Watkins, 1:13.26.9; 2. Jenny Neyman, 1:16.29.2; 3. Kristy Berington, 1:17.56.2; 4. Satorene Jackson, 1:19.59.7; 5. Jackson Lancaster, 1:25.13.6; 6. Jenny Olendorff, 1:26.12.9; 7. Kristine Moerlein, 1:28.13; 8. Amy White, 1:30.48.8; 9. Tomue Krause, 1:39.05.3; 10. Cory Lehl, 1:39.46.3; 11. Kristin Morrow, 1:44.13.8; 12. Joyce Newman, 1:47.28.5.

Men's 5K

1. Ryan Cox, 15:52.6; 2. Mathias Nees, 19:00.7; 3. Ryan Walter, 19:11; 4. Kent Peterson, 19:30.1; 5. Paul Werner, 19:47.5; 6. John Hamilton, 21:14.1; 7. Aaron Julien, 21:21; 8. Joel Burns, 21:25.5; 9. John Roderick, 22:55.5.; 10. Greg Russell, 24:05.9; 11. Caleb Murray, 24:36.7; 12. Pat Mize, 25:24.5.; 13. Dexmond Ticknor, 25:35.3; 14. Aaron O'Dell, 25:39.2; 15. Kurt Strausbaugh, 25:39.9; 16. Tim Weekley, 26:27.7.; 17. Jim Duncan, 27:28.2; 18. Kevin Woodvine, 28:30.1; 19. Jon Jackson, 29:11.1; 20. Jake Denbrock, 30:39.5; 21. Hunter Resse, 30:46; 22. Daryl Palmer, 32:33.6; 23. Dale Bagley, 33:11.3; 24. Chris Graves, 35:05.9; 25. Stephen Park, 35:50.1; 26. Bob Hammer, 39:22; 27. John Murray, 46:01.1; 28. Ken Lancaster, 48:56; 29. Jacob Jackson, 49:28.6; 30. Mekbeb Denbrock, 51:43.2; 31. Maleda Denbrock, 51:55.3; 32. Cameron McCollum, 57:18.8; 33. Joseph Baldwin, 59:35.

Women's 5K

1. Rosika Cox, 19:42; 2. Sarah Walton, 20:29.1; 3. Catherine West, 21:23.5; 4. Sue Seggerman, 21:33.5; 5. Pamela Burns, 22:09.3; 6. Devin Hutchings, 22:30.9; 8. Lanie Hughes, 24:29.4; 9. Mackenzie Senn, 25:33.2; 10. Brenda Cox, 25:55.6; 11. Lisa Groleske, 26:23.3; 12. Madison Willets, 26:27.4; 13. Carolyn Roush, 26:41.4; 14. Sara Klobucar, 27:12.9; 15. Jessica Fazzio, 27:16.7; 16. Andrea Reilly, 27:47.4; 17. Christine Morin, 28:12.5; 18. Susan Pfaffe, 28:30.4; 19. Tammy Strausbaugh, 28:37.6; 20. Melinda Miller, 28:44.7; 21. Jennifer Ticknor, 29:13.8; 22. Elizabeth Thompson, 29:16.2; 23. Addison Cheek, 29:17.3; 24. Pat Walton, 29:19.2; 25. Dawn Hamilton, 29:20.4; 26. Ashley Myers, 29:20.7; 27. Peggy Hills, 29:35; 28. Megan Jabin, 29:42.7; 29. Kierstin Carlson, 29:43; 30. Katie Ford, 29:43.2; 31. Millie Carlson, 29:43.9; 32. Jeannette Russell, 30:49.5; 33. Jennifer Willets, 30:55.7; 34. Jennifer Powell, 30:58.7; 35. Jeanette Tapley, 31:23.4; 36. Deirdre Cheek, 31:48.2; 37. Heather Stephenson, 31:53.9; 38. Connie Wheat, 32:25.2; 39. Lindsey Resse, 32:58; 40. Miranda Schachinger, 33:27.1; 41. Amy O'Dell, 33:39.3; 42. Lysa Dioree, 33:41.1; 43. Jackie Mouser, 34:48.5; 44. Michelle Graves, 35:06.2; 45. Kathy Bush, 35:08.9; 46. Eli Woodvine, 37:48.8; 47. Kathy Hammer, 38:37.8; 48. Bleu Schachinger, 39:12; 49. Linda Paul, 40:33.8; 50. Rebeka Hemes, 41:26.7; 51. Sammy Roderick, 41:32.5; 52. Lilly Murray, 42:35.4; 53. Petra Murray, 42:35.7; 45. Isis Holcombe, 43:45.4; 55. Emma Murray, 45:05.6; 57. Lawrie Murray, 46:00.7; 58. Hydra Murray, 46:03.4; 59. Tracey Bunts, 47:05.7; 60. Stephanie Davidson, 47:06.2; 61. Jessica Jackson, 49:29; 62. Mavis Lancaster, 49:29.3; 63. Stacy Blazy, 49:29.6; 64. Tammy Thompson, 49:31.8; 65. Mackenzie, McAchran, 49:32.1; 66. Heidi Metter, 49:40.8; 67. Monica Frost, 49:41.2; 68. Carl Doques, 50:23.6; 69. Glynn Murray, 50:25.6; 70. Robin Denbrock, 54:12.1; 71. Samantha Denbrock, 54:12.5; 72. Julie Weekley, 54:15.1; 73. Norma Daniels, 55:49.6; 74. Cara Davidson, 57:19.9; 75. Darlene Bunts, 57:20.6; 76. Keely Powers, 57:20.9; 77. Kaitlyn Sipes, 57:21.1; 78. Rachel Baldwin, 59:34.3; 79. Faith Katzenberger, 1:01:39.7; 80. Amber Davis, 1:01:48.2.

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