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By SPENCER GLEASON
Daily News Sports Editor
To say that the 44th Annual Blueberry Arts Festival activities on Aug. 3 began with just a few feet scampering up the hill at Grant and Main streets would be an understatement.
More than 100 people participated in the Blueberry Fun Run that Saturday morning, which kicked off the day’s activities.
But between each foot hitting the pavement, for either the one-mile, 5K or 10K courses, was a guaranteed smile, cheer of encouragement, or a mix of conversation for those that opted to walk the distance, instead of running it.
“It’s a really fun way to start the Blueberry Festival,” race director Lori Ortiz said earlier this summer. “You get a good run in, and celebrate the rest of the time. It’s been a feature of the whole Blueberry Festival.”
The Blueberry Fun Run, which is sponsored by the Ketchikan Running and Walking Club, has been a constant at the Blueberry Arts Festival for a few decades.
Ortiz has been in charge of the race for nearly two of those decades. And Leigh Woodward, Ketchikan High School’s cross country coach, has helped the past 10 years.
But Ortiz is looking to pass the baton.
“The Arts Council has welcomed us, and (helped) us,” she said. “I think if we didn’t have a race, it’d be noticed, for sure. So at some point we need to have some new help to keep it going.”
Ortiz, along with various volunteers, has continued to keep the race running.
“There’s a structure there, so nobody is reinviting the wheel,” Ortiz said. “It would always be better with some innovations, but we’ve been incorporating some innovations, like the online registration.
“We use a little chip, so that’s wonderful,” she continued. “We’ve had years where you tear the bib. ... But it’s a pretty informal deal. It’s a fun run, so usually people go with the flow.”
More than 80 runners registered online for this year’s race. Other participants competed, but were not part of the final results. And those that did register online received a free T-shirt.
Woodward uses the 5K course as a warm-up for her cross country team.
“This is always my base line for our track workouts for the next month,” she said. “Because this shows me what they can do — how fast they can run continuously for a 5K. And from there, I can tailor their workouts so they can achieve their personal goals.”
And if the Blueberry Fun Run results were any sign of what’s to come for Kayhi this season, the cross country team is in good shape.
Kayhi’s Mickey Lapinski won the race, overall, finishing in 18:07. And Anneliese Hiatt placed first among the women’s finishers, with a time of 20:28.
Three of the top-five 5K competitors in each of the men’s and women’s results were Kayhi cross country runners.
“They did well,” Woodward said with a smile.
The starting line began at Grant and Main streets, and the course wound its way through downtown, along the coastal bike trail, and looped back toward the starting line.
The 5K race turned around at the U.S. Coast Guard base; the 10K race turned around at the South Tongass Service Gas Station.
The Blueberry Fun Run is the only 10K in town.
“It’s a nice distance,” Woodward said of the longer distance. “You’re not racing, like in a 5K, where you’re trying to keep up with everybody. You can settle into your pace a little bit.”
The Ketchikan Running and Walking Club sponsors several races throughout the year, including the Sourdough Stampede in April, Totem to Totem Run in May, and the Ward Lake Fun Run in July.
“It’s really fun to see families doing activities together, and to see runners come in from out of town to enjoy our environment,” Ortiz said. “It takes a lot of energy for people to come up that hill, whether they’re the first runner or the last runner.”
Here are the final results for the Blueberry Fun Run:
One Mile Female Runners
1. Clara Odden, 6:55; 2. Zaidence Miller, 7:09; 3. Ryan Elizabeth Elerding, 7:43; 4. Lulu Mercer, 9:47; 5. Kirya Zier, 11:00; 6. Tristan Comley, 11:14; 7. Nikayla Conley, 12:25; 8. Alana Zmico, 13:41.
One Mile Male Runners
1. Henry Vail, 6:54; 2. Joseph Hillis, 7:54; 3. Kelten Webb, 9:12; 4. Andrew Vail, 9:18; 5. Perry Serlin, 9:47; 6. Mason Miller, 12:07; 7. Gavin Bell, 12:24; 8. Taylan Sebcioglu, 12:40; 9. Unknown Runner, 17:26.
5K Female Runners
1. Anneliese Hiatt, 20:28; 2. Morgan Elerding, 21:30; 3. Ruby McCue, 22:23; 4. Rhea Kahle, 23:56; 5. Sarah Thompson, 23:58; 6. Hailey Schreyer, 24:14; 7. Jenna Walker, 25:06; 8. Rosie Walker, 26:01; 9. Lexi Vaxquez, 27:58; 10. Amanda Robinson, 28:07; 11. Allison Neterer, 28:08; 12. Shelby Johannsen, 29:46; 13. Crystal Vail, 29:50; 14. Alicia Pelcher, 30:03; 15. Ellie Pickrell, 30:42; 16. Allyson Sebcioglu, 31:07; 17. Queeny Fabionar, 31:50; 18. Jessica Smits, 31:51; 19. Sharon Schreyer, 31:52; 20. Jenna Walker, 32:28; 21. Kristall Bullock, 33:21; 22. Danielle Hill, 33:31; 23. Frances Hill, 33:32; 24. Winona Godwin, 35:04; 25. Renee Limoge, 36:34; 26. Holly Knight, 38:23; 27. Holli Elsenbeck, 39:57; 28. Autumn Bremer, 41:42; 29. Havalah Clark, 44:09; 30. McKenna Johannsen, 53:22; 31. Stacy White, 57:01.
5K Male Runners
1. Mickey Lapinski, 18:07; 2. Sean Vail, 18:08; 3. Owen Woodward, 20:24; 4. Hunter Mathews, 20:45; 5. Brayden Gentry, 21:13; 6. Conner Ray, 22:17; 7. Russell Daniels, 22:31; 8. Eddie Gomez, 24:46; 9. Scott Brandt-Erichsen, 25:01; 10. Wilfred Agony, 25:01; 11. John Bullock, 26:34; 12. Dale Warner, 27:45; 13. Kareem Micheli, 29:38; 14. Peter Daniels, 30:17; 15. Gregory Merle, 32:29; 16. Olaf Amundson, 37:07; 17. Christopher Bremer, 41:43; 18. Albert White, 1:04.19.
10K Female Runners
1. Brynn Castillow, 44:39; 2. Kristin Santroch, 46:23; 3. Geneva Peters, 48:05; 4. Saralyn Toussaint, 50:09; 5. Robyn E., 50:45; 6. Gina Ostby, 54:05; 7. Aimee Meuter, 55:10; 8. Deandra Banie, 57:05; 9. Linda Meuter, 1:10.05.
10K Male Runners
1. Matt Herod, 45:30; 2. Ross Dorendorf, 49:39; 3. Ben Limle, 49:41; 4. Seth Gross, 54:05; 5. Richard Pedersen, 57:01; 6. Tom Fowler, 57:16; 7. Doug Ward, 1:10.23.
*Results courtesy of the Ketchikan Running and Walking Club.