Sunny skies greeted more than 200 runners and walkers for the first annual FOCUS 5K fundraising event held Sat., April 29, in Eagle River.
“We are more than pleased with the community response,” Jenna Morales, the special events coordinator for FOCUS, said Saturday morning as she watched hard-core runners clad in shorts and high-end running shoes check in at the registration table along with moms and dads pushing strollers with young children. “This event is for everyone.”
The first-ever charity race was billed as a combination event – a chance for running enthusiasts to get their first snowless competition for 2017 as well as the opportunity for FOCUS families and supporters to get outside enjoying some fresh air and quality time together.
For the winner of the women’s division, Sara Kennedy of Eagle River who is also a special needs teacher at Birchwood ABC Elementary School who is training for the summer running season, the event was an excuse to get out, run and support a worthy cause.
And run she did – right to a photo finish victory.
Kennedy led the women’s pack for the bulk of the race, but was challenged at the end by Kat Roch. Both women had times of 23 minutes and 14 seconds for the race, but Kennedy edged Roch out by just a foot kick to claim the first place medal produced by participants in the FOCUS art program.
The 5K run started at the Eklutna Square gravel pad owned by Eklutna, Inc., located across the street from Fred Meyer. Runners followed a course along the Old Glenn Highway to Fire Lake where they took a left running alongside W. Lake Ridge Drive to the bicycle pathway along the Glenn Highway and back to the gravel pad’s far corner at the intersection of the Old Glenn Highway and the N. Eagle River exit where they turned around to repeat the course in reverse and cross at a finish line stationed where the race began.
Editor’s Note: Sara Kennedy is the wife of John “LJ” Kennedy, the ECHO News publisher. Everyone at the ECHO News and Eagle River Printing sends congratulations to her on her win!