Alexis Oskolkoff was a bit nervous before running her first 5-kilometer race.
By the time Kodiak’s annual Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot started, the East Elementary fifth-grader was ready.
She toed the line with 167 runners on a clear but crisp morning, and 28 minutes, 34 seconds later she finished.
Oskolkoff was one of more than 20 elementary students who set out on the 3.1-mile course through the streets of Kodiak as part of KANA’s RunningCubs program.
Thursday’s fun run ended a two-month course that taught running skills as used by high school runners Levi Thomet, Levi Fried, Madison Moir and Tiffany Bolyard.
“It is really fun,” Oskolkoff said. “It got me to be a better runner.”
She used her knowledge to pace herself through the course.
“I’m not going to go fast,” she said before the race. “Because when people go too fast at the start, five minutes later they are walking.”
Fifth-grader Malina Fagan was one of fastest girl Cubs of the day. The seasoned runner, who has completed two half-marathons and a triathlon, finished in 26:22 to win a pie.
Fagan is involved in a lot of clubs but she said she looked forward to RunningCubs, a program that met twice a week for two hours each day at East Elementary.
“We went to runs to KANA and East Addition Park. That was really fun,” Fagan said.
The club taught runners about nutrition, proper stretches and running, through games and runs to various places in town.
Jackson Krug learned “if you run in place, you can actually warm up your body,” he said.
Program director Jessica Lacy, the violence prevention coordinator at KANA, developed the club to bring high school and elementary students together for an activity. She is planning to do another club during the spring that will lead up to the Hershey’s Track and Field Games.
“We were looking at things to get everybody involved. We had 56 kids at one point,” Lacy said. “I think they liked having something to do instead of going home and just watching TV.”
The four high school runners volunteered their time to guide the future of the program.
“It was definitely a new experience that I have never been a part of — a bunch of little kids trying to get them organized and get them to run,” Fried said. “I think they enjoyed it.”
The junior Thomet, a two-time 4A state cross country champion, won his second consecutive Turkey Trot in 16:34 — a full minute ahead of last year’s time. That race included only 62 runners and walkers who braved slushy conditions.
A record number of people turned out for Thursday’s race. It was the first time in two years that snow and ice did not cover the course.
“It was cold, that was pretty much it,” said Thomet about the race. “My ears were freezing.”
Meg Inokuma was the top female finisher in 21:09. Dale Nelson (master’s men), Kathleen Dunbar (master’s women), Pete Hannah (senior men), Sarah Babbitt (senior women), Zoe Bigley (girls high school), Chris Florscher (men’s open), Stephen Parnell boys middle school) and Hannah Glover (girls middle school), Marc Barroga (youth male) and Alexanderia Gier (youth female) all won their age division.
Contact Mirror writer Derek Clarkston at firstname.lastname@example.org.