By Redoubt Reporter
There was still a score to be settled when the Salmon Run series of community races finished up Aug. 5, but this one didn’t require running, except for running a coffee maker.
Participation was better than ever in the fourth year of the Salmon Run Series, with each of the five weekly races topping 120 participants, and one week nearly drawing 170.
That’s thanks, in part, to increased participation from Kenai Peninsula Borough and school district employees who squared off in the Battle of Binkley participation challenge. Each Salmon Run, the number of school district vs. borough employees was tallied. Whichever side of the borough administration building — located on Binkley Street in Soldotna — tallied the most participants in all five Salmon Runs would win. The prize? Bragging rights. But also the health benefits that come from being active.
In an added twist, there were five extra points in play, and it was up to the administrators of the borough and school district to settle which side got them. That was determined Aug. 12, prior to the Fountain of Youth run at Tsalteshi Trails, as school district Superintendent Sean Dusek squared off against borough Mayor Mike Navarre’s proxy, Chief of Staff Paul Ostrander, as Navarre was delayed in Anchorage testifying in a hearing.
The tally was neck and neck as the administrator challenge came to a head.
“The borough actually had more people participate, but the school district had more repeat offenders, so it is extremely close, and these gentlemen have a chance to win five points for their team,” said Mike Crawford, with Tsalteshi Trails Association and creator of the Battle of Binkley with borough co-worker Bobbi Lay.
As Crawford explained, the score would be settled through bureaucratic, rather than athletic, prowess.
“First off, they are going to make an entire pot of coffee, because, as we know, caffeine is an integral part of any meeting,” he said, as Lay demonstrated how the coffee pots worked and how much grounds must be used.
Multitasking was the order of the day. While the coffee brewed, the competitors moved onto the stiff collar competition — unrolling and putting on a frozen t-shirt — and the Ding-Dong challenge.
“Sustenance. What bureaucratic meeting does not need sustenance? So here we have Hostess snack cakes, enough to power you through any meeting,” Crawford said. A brief conference ensued to determine the number of snack cakes to be consumed. “How many do you guys want to eat? One?”
“OK, they’ve decided to eat one Ding-Dong,” Crawford announced to the crowd.
Newly fueled, the competitors would find a stack of 10 cards bearing names to be alphabetized. Finally, once enough coffee was brewed, it was to be poured into a cup, the lid secured and the vessel carried through a series of barriers strung with flagging tape — red, of course. Whoever cut through the red tape with a full cup of coffee first, would win.
“Are the administrators ready for the bureaucratic beatdown?” Crawford intoned. “OK, timers are you ready? Racers are you ready? Let’s go!”
Dusek and Ostrander hurried to load their coffeepots, Ostrander gaining a slight edge when a puff of wind tossed Dusek’s coffee filter on the ground.
“They didn’t account for the wind. That’s usually what happens around here,” Crawford narrated.
Ostrander wrestled his chilly T-shirt on over his head, shoved a Ding-Dong in his mouth and picked up his cards, Dusek not far behind him.
“You’ve never seen something as riveting as people alphabetizing,” Crawford said, as he and Lay checked the A-B-Cs. “It’s dead even. Does it seem like a lot of meetings go like this? Everybody’s just waiting for the coffee to get done?”
The coffee proved to be the lynchpin, Ostrander’s gurgling its way to a half-full pot, while Dusek’s barely burbled out of the basket.
“I’m getting no coffee,” Dusek complained, rattling elements on the coffee maker.
“Oh, you know why? Too much coffee,” he announced, dumping some of the contents of his stuffed filter onto the ground, and questioning whether Ostrander had used enough.
“Oh, it’s clearly half,” Ostrander countered. “I made a mark earlier.”
“No way!” Dusek replied. “I’m just going to use yours.”
Ostrander was able to fill his cup first and head to the red tape, pulling each length in two.
“Don’t burn yourself!” Crawford cautioned. “Risk management would be so furious!”
With Ostrander declared the winner, the five extra points nosed the borough into victor of the Battle of Binkley, with 68 points over the school district’s 67.
“Yeah, I don’t make a lot of coffee,” Dusek conceded.
Still, having so many people participate in a healthy outdoor activity was a win in and of itself.
“It was definitely good to have so many people come out and be involved. That’s what it was all about,” Dusek said.