Runners, walkers support Boston

By McKibben Jackinsky

Staff writer

Shock from the bombings at the end of Monday’s Boston Marathon has swept around the world. Homer is no exception.

A 26.2-minute run-walk, one minute for each mile of the marathon, will be held at Homer High School at 5 p.m. Saturday as a sign of support for the victims, families, spectators and volunteers impacted by the tragedy. Participants are encouraged to wear shirts or medals from events in which they have participated.

“We just want to show support and be symbolically and spiritually connected to those people that are hurting right now,” said Mike Illg, coordinator of the city of Homer’s Community Recreation Program and a local runner.

Raised in Lowell, Mass., Illg competed in the 1999 Boston Marathon. Entry into the race is regulated by strict qualifying times and requirements.

“It’s akin to a graduation. It’s the pinnacle of all marathons,” said Illg, who has followed the race closely, watching friends’ progress as they make their way toward the finish of the 26.2-mile event.

Illg attributed the idea for Saturday’s run-walk in Homer to his sister, Vicki Lowe, who lives in Homer and was on hand when Illg ran the Boston Marathon.

‘She was along the course, cheering me on,” said Illg, recalling that day. “She said, ‘Mike, it was more exciting for me than you.’”

More than 20,000 runners from around the world participated in this year’s Boston Marathon.

“What’s amazing about this race is that it has an international draw,” said Illg.

“For them to target this is disheartening. And that’s the thing, to not be disheartened to where no one wants to run anymore or participate in this race. If we can double the amount of people that want to run or continue with life and not live in fear, that’s the message we want to show.”

Saturday’s event is only one of many running and walking activities coming up this season, thanks to the efforts of the Kachemak Bay Running Club. For starters, there’s Friday Night Fives through the month of April. Organized by KBRC member Rachel Lord and sponsored by the club, these 5K noncompetitive events follow a course through town and are open to all ages and all abilities.

“It’s absolutely for walkers and runners,” said Andrea Peterson, KBRC president.

“And jaunters, joggers, dogs, strollers and kids on bikes beside their parents.”

Organized as a nonprofit organization, KBRC launched its second season with an annual membership meeting March 28. Membership is $15 per person with a family rate offered. Its board of directors includes Peterson; Randy Wiest, vice president; Andy Haas, secretary; Richard Burton, treasurer; and members at large Sandra Hudson and Bill Steyer. 

In addition to Friday Night Fives, there are numerous other events in the months ahead (see sidebar, this page).

“Then in October, weather permitting, there will be a Halloween Costume Crawl and in November a Turkey Trot,” said Peterson.   

As soon as the last reminders of winter have disappeared from Homer High’s new track, Steyer will begin holding Tuesday night track workouts for club members at 6 p.m. Steyer also will coach KBRC’s summer youth running program for ages 13-18. The program will meet twice a week from May 15-Aug. 15, and is designed to increase young athlete’s running strength and conditioning. The cost is $25, which includes a one-year KBRC membership. 

Club jackets are being designed by Kathy Sarns of Free Spirit, and will be available soon.

When not involved in club events, members help with other activities. There’s the Borough Track and Field Championships for middle and high school athletes on May 3-4, and the Hershey Track and Field Meet for athletes ages 9-14 on May 25. 

“The excellent thing about the running club is having a good base of people to help provide support and expertise in how to run meets,” said Steyer.

That support also extends to the Special Olympics Torch Run on May 18.

“You can bike, walk, run, do whatever you want to get out there and support that excellent program,” said Peterson.

Peterson said the club’s welcome mat is out to anyone who is interested.

“We encourage anybody and everybody to come out and join us,” she said. “You don’t have to be the best runner or the fastest walker. The ultimate goal is to get people outside and exercising and enjoying the nice weather, knock on wood.”

• For information about the Hershey Track and Field Meet, call 235-6090.

• For information about the Kachemak Bay Running Club, visit the club’s Facebook page.

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at