Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Taking the scenic route — Tsalteshi Trails running series offers new views on exercise

By Jenny Neyman
Redoubt Reporter

It’ll be another month or two before the Tsalteshi Ski Trails in Soldotna live up to their name, but that doesn’t mean people have to wait for snow to use them.

The trail system that meanders through the hillside between Skyview High School and Kalifornsky Beach Road was designed for skiing, but it presents recreational opportunities for runners, walkers and mountain bikers, as well.

To promote those uses, the Tsalteshi Trails Association is holding a series of fun runs/walks Tuesdays through September at the Wolverine trail head across Kalifornsky Beach Road from United Rentals.

“It’s to introduce people to the trails,” said TTA Chair Alan Boraas. “A lot of people haven’t been to this entrance, which was new last fall. And it’s just to have a fun, fall, fitness running series.”

Walkers and runners can meet at the trail head around 6 p.m. Tuesdays to sign up to participate. The race begins at 6:15 p.m. each week. It’s free to Tsalteshi Trails Association members. Membership forms can be downloaded at www.tsalteshi.org.

“It’s after work, so people can just pop in for a run,” Boraas said.

The course distance varies every week, offering participants a different challenge and a chance to see different parts of the trails.

“This is a beautiful time of year here,” Boraas said. “The leaves will be turning and you get a little different scenery each week. There’s a little more chill in the air as we’re transitioning to winter.”

Timing is available for runners wanting to keep track of how they did. At the end of the series a men’s and women’s winner will be determined based on where they placed in each race.

On Sept. 9, Bill Coghill, of Soldotna, took first place in the three-kilometer race, with a time of 11 minutes, 34 seconds, with Ben Histand coming in second at 11:53 and Paul Knight was third at 17:42.

Coghill said he used the race as an opportunity to test his speed.

“When you’re out running every day anyway, I try to fit it into my training program,” he said.
Coghill is a regular on the trail system all summer, preferring running in the woods to running on pavement. He said he was glad to see the trails association promoting trail use year-round.

“It’s nice when they put on events like this. And it’s free, for heaven’s sake,” he said.

For the top three women’s finishers Sept. 9, it was a dead heat to the finish line. It didn’t come down to a dead sprint, though, since Penny McClain, Gail Moore and Leslie Boyd had eschewed the pretense of racing for a group stroll-through-the-woods approach to the event. Victory came down to the very last second, but was decided through a round of “you go first,” “no, you go first” negotiations.

Many of the 17 or so participants were newcomers to the trails, which is exactly what the trails association board was hoping for.

“Just come out and have a good time. It’s all about the land and landscape and the seasons,” Boraas said.

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