Homer Alaska - Sports

Story last updated at 6:05 PM on Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Race to the Altar 'uphill battle' celebrating marital endurance

By Angelina Skowronski
For the Homer News

Unlike traditional weddings where the rehearsal dinner is a time to celebrate with the wedding party, three years ago Megan and Jan Spurkland put their wedding party through a grueling half-marathon run through the Homer area.

If that wasn't enough, they have continued to do it each year on their anniversary, and this time Megan and Jan ran as new parents. Held last Saturday, this marital event has doubled in size over the last three years.

"This year we had 38 runners, five bike sweeps, eight to nine volunteers with three aid stations, and bacon-oreo sandwiches at mile 3 and Jello shots at mile 6," said event coordinator Megan Spurkland.

You read right, bacon-OREO sandwiches and Jello shots — breakfast of champions and the energy bars of Olympiads. The "marital half-marathon of blissful endurance" is mainly an uphill battle — "like marriages," adds Spurkland.

The course was developed by Paul Gutzler, former Homer High cross country coach. The start of the 13.3 mile run begins at Homer High School, crosses town into the Roger's Loop ski trails, up to Diamond Ridge Road to the Bridge Creek Reservoir and ends at Megan's parents' house down a muddy dirt road.

Indeed, an uphill battle.

At the finish line runners are greeted with a bowl of warm Polish hunter stew made by Megan's mom. The coordinators set up the course the evening before the race, but this year they found a bear had tried its chance at the track and ripped down a few of the posted signs.

"Oh well," they say.

The top finishers on Saturday were Lucas Thein of Soldotna with a time of 1:47:40 in the men's category and Katie Moerlein of Ninilchick with 1:56:47 on the clock for the women's category.

Instead of driving off in a car with a string of empty cans trailing behind, newly weds ran with "just married" ribbons on their backs. Of them Kyle and Emily Lints of Homer came in the top five, Emily in second place with a time of 2:07:38 and Kyle in fourth place for the men's with a time of 1:56:01.

Aside from Kenai residents, a handful of athletes traveled from Anchorage and Eagle River areas to participate in this challenging event. The race was posted on the Alaska Runners Calendar through the municipality of Anchorage.

Next year, the Spurklands hope to launch a website to handle pre-registration, yet the plan is to keep it small.

"This takes a lot of organization; it's an interesting way to spend your anniversary. We want to keep it low key so that it remains a free and fun event," said Spurkland.