Eighteen-year old Pedro Ochoa, a 2014 Homer High School graduate who was on the school’s cross country and track team, ran to first place in Saturday’s “10K to the Bay” Homer Spit Run. Ochoa finished in a time of 0:36:18.13.
Claiming first place for the women was Molly Mitchell, a Homer High junior who also ran on the school’s cross country and track team. Mitchell crossed the finish line in 0:40:51.14.
Congratulating Ochoa at the finish line was the Bill Steyer, coach of the high school team and race director. After recovering from a week-long sickness, Ochoa said he started running again the Sunday before the race.
“I just wanted to have fun,” said Ochoa after finishing. He said he was pacing slowly in the beginning, maintaining second place, but then brought up the speed closer to the finish line.
“I am happy because my family is here,” said Ochoa, who has placed third in the Spit Run for the last two consecutive years. Next year he plans on running with the University of Alaska Anchorage cross country team.
In 2013, Mitchell triple-tied for first place with friends Aurora Waclawski and Barea Hirsch, but said she ran faster this year. Also part of Homer High’s cross country and track teams, Mitchell said she felt encouraged seeing her coach, Steyer, during the race.
“I knew he would be here because he is coordinating the race,” she said. “It makes a big difference if someone is there at different points of the race. It reminds me to keep pacing myself and to try to hit what I am shooting for.”
Sunny weather and mild wind graced participants of the annual event which was sponsored by the Kachemak Bay Running Club, the city of Homer Parks and Recreation, South Peninsula Hospital and the Homer News.
The 10-kilometer competition attracted local and visiting runners, joggers and walkers who started at the Homer High School, raced through town and out to the end of the Homer Spit where they were greeted at the finish line by an enthusiastic crowd.
The Homer Spit Run not only attracted local participants but also those new to Homer.
Second-place finisher Andrew Kirk of Virginia was visiting his brother in Anchorage before they decided to drive to Homer early that Saturday in time for the race. Kirk, who had never previously been to Homer, said his favorite part of the race was seeing the view of the ocean and mountains unfold as he ran.
Kirk said he hasn’t been running lately due to being busy with his recent graduation from Virginia Commonwealth University. The Spit Run was a way to “scratch the racing itch,” he said. He finished with a time of 0:37:48,26.
“I was going to be happy with anything under 38 minutes,” said Kirk.
Second-place female finisher was Soldotna resident and incoming high school senior Sadie Fox, with a time of 0:43:16,66. Fox completed the event before going across the bay with her family later in the day.
“I like that (the Spit Run) is flat, and it has a nice view,” she said.
If there was an award for the most patriotic runner’s outfit, Peggy Leonard would have won it. She raced in an American flag cloth tophat and wore a red, white and blue tutu while she held a pinwheel usually seen at a Fourth of July parade. Leonard is an active race-goer and likes to pair her events with extravagant outfits and tutus because it inspires her.
“I will never do this again though,” Leonard said pointing at her top hat, which she said was too hot. “It’s all about fun. I don’t do times.”
As runners and walkers arrived at the finish line, most joined the relaxed celebration on the Land’s End deck. Athletes and their supporting friends and family chatted with their tableside neighbors about the great weather, listened for their number to be called during the drawing of door prizes and snacked on a well-earned meal.
New to the race this year was an automatic timing system. Electronic chips embedded in racing bibs recorded racing times as runners passed the finish line. The Kachemak Bay Running Club’s new system delighted veteran timekeeper Randy Wiest, the club’s vice president.
Wiest described his nightmare experience after last year’s manually timed Migration Run.
“I spent three hours tearing my hair out and looking at the numbers, trying to figure out which printed time went with each racer,” he said.
The new program also provided online finishing times for athletes 20 minutes after they crossed the finish line.
“People could look up their race times with their smart phone, instead of having to look at the printed list,” Wiest said.
Along with the new timing technology, the Spit Run had a large digital clock on display. All proceeds from the race go to the running club’s youth running programs and educational clinics.
Homer Spit Run racing times and more information on Kachemak Bay Running Club’s future events can be found on their website kachemakbayrunningclub.org.
Shannon Reid is a freelance writer who lives in Homer.
Homer Spit Run 10K Results
Male 9 and under
Female 9 and under
8.Bessie Lincoln-Nocross 1:15:23.80
14.Billie Rae Gillas1:57:09.77
1.Mary Ann Renkert0:53:47.85
6.Diane Little Eagle1:40:36.33