Kenai Lions President Ryan Mills slips into a coffin as Josh Poitry (in hat) and Zach Letzring (in purple wig) prepare to push their creation in the Soldotna Lions Club sixth annual Vera Howarth Memorial Bed Race down Park Avenue in Soldotna on Saturday.
Photo by Joseph Robertia
Perhaps it was their blue and silver painted faces that distracted the competition. Maybe the cheering gallery of college kids intimidated the other four racers. Perhaps it was even that their school places so much emphasis and engineering degrees that their design couldn't be beat.
What every it was, it was obvious the Kenai Peninsula College student union couldn't be beat as they claimed victory for the fourth year in a row during the sixth annual Soldotna Lions Club Vera Howarth Memorial Bed Race down Park Avenue in Soldotna on Saturday.
"The object of this event is really starting to be to beat these KPC kids," said Ed Sleater, secretary for the Soldotna Lions, who also competed in the event with his hemi-powered bed frame.
The KPC bed dubbed the Fast Track to the Future was ridden by student Katie Wells and powered by Jeremiah Jensen and Lance Hunt's legs of steel.
Of the three collegians, only Jensen was a veteran of the bed race and he said he imparted on his two new team members the key aspect of being the winner.
"I told them run, run fast," he said.
But, in all seriousness, Jensen admitted that much like the three wouldn't go into an exam without studying, they wouldn't show up to the bed race without practicing.
"We took it out on a few trail runs through an obstacle course to make sure the steering worked," Wells said.
Hunt said it also helps that they didn't have other extracurricular distractions at KPC so they could give their full attention and effort to the bed race.
"We've got no sports teams, so we've got to win at something," he joked.
The unique aerodynamic shape and race car-like style of their bed seems to lend to their favor, as well.
"The bed doesn't hurt, it's a good design," Jensen said.
Securing victory for a fourth could go to some people's head. But, the KPC bed heads seemed well grounded despite their winning streak. The are confident without being cocky.
"It's still challenging because you never know who you're running against," Jensen said.
Jensen's words seemed to bare truth, since the prerace favorite of some spectators was the Kenai Lions team, which had a unique design.
"We're going to race this thing into the ground," said Ryan Mills, president of the Kenai Lions as he donned his maniac's mask and slid into the coffin attached to a hospital gurney that constituted his team's racing bed.
Pushing him were Josh Poitry dressed as a warlock and Zach Letzring who came as a purple-haired zombie.
"We heard there is an ugliest bed award and this is also a memorial race, so we went with both angles," Mills said.
The trio took the prize for the most unique bed, but they ended up getting sandwiched between two other teams during the race, which slowed their momentum. Also, the wheels on their gurney didn't roll properly.
"I think next year we'll have to make some improvements," Mills said.
Spectators enjoyed seeing the competition and said it was wonderful to know it was all for a good cause, too, since the bed race is just one of the many events the Lions put on to fund their scholarship program.
"Every year the Soldotna Lions Club awards six scholarships in the amount of $500 each two go to KPC and four go to local college-bound young adults at Skyview and SoHi," said Soldotna Lion Past President Tim Musgrove.
The students said they were excited to take part in an event that gave back to them and other youth.
"It's cool. I think it's great the Lions Club gives so much money to the community," said KPC student Joseph Ragsdale.
With this year's event behind them, the KPC team already is looking toward next year. Jensen said they may make some changes and modifications to their bed but wouldn't elaborate much beyond that.
"I'm not giving out any secrets," he said.
As to why they take the competition so seriously, Jensen said the answer should be obvious.
"We've won four years in row. We have to keep winning now. If we lose, we'll never hear the end of it."
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