BONNERS FERRY — With the previous day’s rain having flushed the excessive heat and humidity from the air, and the sun breaking through to take the early morning chill away, it was ideal weather for the annual Kootenai River Run (KRR) race on Saturday, June 22.
“I’m glad the rain cleared. The weather was really good; great temperature for running,” said Hank Willis. “If it had been yesterday’s rainy, cold weather, I don’t think I would have come.”
Willis said that he was thrilled with his 5K time, coming in first place in his category with 20:39.
Others also posted times that they were very pleased with, including Abigail Gorton, who will be a senior at Bonners Ferry High School next year. Gorton set a personal best record for herself for this race, but she said that her favorite part of the annual run is getting to see her friends and run with them. Her personal best was enough to win her the overall Ladies’ 5K with a time of 20:36.
The annual race is made up of a comfortable mixture of serious runners, as well as people who just take the opportunity to get out and exercise for the day, mingling with people as they jogged or walked the route. There was plenty to see and enjoy, from the majestic backdrop of Boundary County to the musicians, bellydancers, and the Restorium Renegades spraying the runners with water as they went by.
“I like it,” said first time KKR runner, Kevin Knauth, who came in second place in his category. “It was fun seeing the drummers and the guitar players and the ladies with the super soakers. It was also fun watching those little kids run the 5K … that is a long way for short legs.”
Connor Alexander returned to the KRR for the second time this year, flying around the course and setting the best time of the day with a time of 19:20. Alexander, who is part of the Bonners Ferry cross country and track team, said, “It is nice to get out and run.”
The race is not only for locals, drawing in people from other places as well. John Birrell was visiting all the way from Tampa, Fla. He battled the hills and altitude to take first place in his category.
”Florida is flat,” he said. “It was a challenge, especially that long part of the bridge going up. The bands were great and the restorium renegades squirting you — it seems like they are having a good time.”
Cheryl Mueller came down from Nelson, Canada, and won the Ladies 10K race. She told race organizers the KRR was the most well-organized small run that she has ever entered and she planned on bringing more people next year.
“It will be nice to have more Canadians entering the run,” said KRR organizer, Jim Cadnum. “At one time we had a lot of people coming from Cranbrook but that source has dried up for some reason.”
The race attracted people of all ages, having competitors in classes all the way from 0-11 years old to over 70 years. Winner of the Men’s 5K 0-11 Age Group was 9-year old Joey Pinkerton with a time of 27:40.
“It was really fun,” said Pinkerton, who ran the race for the first time this year. He plans to be back next year.
For a strong race, there is a strong committee planning and executing it, and there were many familiar faces, from Cadnum in the lead, to organizers Tyler Warner and Paul Bonnell.
“The event went extremely well this year,” said Cadnum. “Carolyn Testa is our promotional director and she does a superb job of promoting the run on social media.”
The race had more pre-registered runners this year than the year before.
“I give Carolyn credit for that increase,” said Cadnum. “She also puts a great amount of effort into collecting prizes for the drawing during the awards ceremony. She actually enjoys doing her job.”
Another repeat contributor to the uniqueness of the race was the handmade trophies by Bill Dettelbach.
“Bill does put a considerably amount of effort into creating the perfect trophies,” said Cadnum. “I sometimes wonder if all the winners appreciate the works of art that they are receiving.”
For entrants and committee members alike, the race is a fun day for all.
“I like helping out,” said Warner, who used to run the race and is now a committee member. “It’s fun putting the whole thing together and it gets me in the cross country mode for fall.”
Along with the many prizes, donated by local businesses, the annual scholarship was given out in the amount of $1,000 to Alex Alvarez.
As it always does, the race brought new and old friends together to compete, or just socialize, with the common theme of loving to run or walk in the beauty of Boundary County.
“I am very happy with the way this year’s run turned out,” said Cadnum.
For a complete list of the results or more information: kootenairiverrun.com