By Jenny Neyman
“They say the best thing you can do to exercise your heart is reach out to people. If that’s the case, this event is nothing but heart,” said Greg Russell, co-director of the Tri-the-Kenai triathlon held Sunday at Skyview High School in Soldotna.
Pounding-from-exertion heart for the 200-plus racers who gave it their all, perhaps. But heart, nonetheless.
“They should change the name to tri-hill-a-thon,” said Yvonne Henrickson, of Anchorage. She and Mona Bremont heard about Tri-the-Kenai while doing the Gold Nugget Triathlon in Anchorage in May, and decided to put their training through another round of use by competing in the Kenai Peninsula event.
“It’s a great triathlon, really homey,” Bremont said.
Word has spread about the Tri-the-Kenai, with 210 participants this year compared to 131 in last year’s inaugural event. Henrickson and Bremont said they just wished they’d also heard about the hills on the biking and running routes.
“We didn’t get a chance to come out and try the course beforehand,” Henrickson
“That was some hill,” Bremont added.
“Whoa, Nellie,” seconded Henrickson.
In the adult race, swimmers completed 500 meters in the Skyview pool and hopped on their bikes to make a 10-mile loop southwest along the Sterling Highway, up and down Echo Lake Road to Gaswell Road, taking Kalifornsky Beach Road to the Sterling Highway and up the steep climb to get back to Skyview. Once they ditched their bikes, racers faced a five-kilometer run through the hilly Tsalteshi Ski Trails behind the school. In the youth events, the 5- to 9-year olds completed a three-kilometer bike and two-kilometer run, while the 10- to 14-year-olds completed a four-kilometer bike and three-kilometer run.
For Soldotna’s Loren Hollers, who did the bike portion for the winning men’s team, getting up the hills on Echo Lake Road and the Sterling Highway was the most challenging part of the race. But knowing he had two teammates counting on him was all the fuel he needed. He competed with his son, Levi Hollers, who graduated from Skyview in 1999 and had been a successful swimmer in high school. Sarge Truesdell, of Soldotna, blazed Tsalteshi Trails on foot. Hollers had been Truesdell’s wrestling coach when Truesdell became Skyview’s first state-champion wrestler.
“By far and away the greatest thing was doing it with my son,” Hollers said. “And
Sarge, who’s like a son.” Continue reading