Much love, much to love

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What a year for the Tsalteshi Trails Association! Despite an uncharacteristically mild winter and a forest fire-filled spring, we’ve had the largest community involvement in Tsalteshi history this year. With a variety of communitywide ski, run and bike races, our trails have seen over 9,000 kilometers of community racing. This doesn’t even include school or private events and uses, but despite those exclusions, it is enough to ski, bike and run from Tsalteshi Trails all the way to Guatemala!

This year has also seen a great deal of firsts. Not only have we been able to enjoy 25 kilometers of trail, thanks in no small part to the development, maintenance and grooming of Bill Holt, we have included a dedicated single-track trail for our cycling enthusiasts. This purely volunteer effort was spearheaded by Nic and Natalie Larson, with an army of volunteers and much-appreciated help from Beemun’s Bike and Ski Loft. Adding purpose-built trails meant lease agreement changes with the Kenai Peninsula Borough, for which Land Management Officer Marcus Mueller provided quick and comprehensive information.

We had over 50 people participate in our first shoes-optional run, the Caveman 5k, with help from The Fitness Place. We had our first film festival, with help from Kenai River Brewing Co. and Alaska Downhill Brigade. We raised money for the American Cancer Society by hosting the Relay for Life 5k. We added color to the mix by partnering with United Way with the Colour Us United 5k, and we became involved with the central peninsula mainstay Rotary Unity Run with the Soldotna and Kenai River Rotary clubs.

A new water tower project is being skillfully handled by the city of Soldotna, and planners have been exceedingly accommodating to our hope to keep our Fox trail skiable and awesome. We partnered with Cook Inletkeeper for our first ever 10-mile beach race, the Mouth to Mouth Wild Ride and Run, which saw tremendous turnout for a great cause. The third year of the increasingly popular Salmon Run Series had its largest participation ever, with every race seeing over 100 people finish, thanks to the efforts of the amazing Allie Ostrander and the Kenai Watershed Forum. One race was the largest communitywide running event in Tsalteshi history — 165 finishers! Our nine-race Cycle Series also saw our largest-ever participation. These races culminated in PsychoCross 2014, made possible by generous donations from Beemun’s Bike and Ski Loft, with door prizes from the T200 Sled Dog Race and Advanced Physical Therapy.

The Fountain of Youth Pursuit race, this year a 5k, proved to be a very popular option and a fun way to challenge racers against each other, regardless of age or gender. And the Tri-the-Kenai Triathlon at Tsalteshi, now in its fifth year, also saw largest-ever participation, despite being delayed by smoke from the spring wildfire.

Many of these events couldn’t have been possible without the aforementioned individuals and entities. And none of this would be possible without participation from our community. Thank you for becoming Tsalteshi members, participating in events, volunteering, donating and assisting in keeping the Tsalteshi Trails Association thriving. And the fun doesn’t stop here! Spook Night is coming up Oct. 26, hopefully with snow and a full season of skiing close behind.

We’ll see you on the trails!

– Tsalteshi Trails Association Board of Directors