Record number take on Rotary Run despite foul weather
October 7, 2008
By Derek Johnson
Under a partially clear sky, the cordoned streets of Issaquah provided routes for more than 1,600 runners in the annual Salmon Days Rotary Run Oct. 5. It featured a variety of participants, either competing in the 5K or 10K races.
The Issaquah Rotary Club organized the run to raise money and awareness for an organization called SAMA, otherwise known as the Science and Management of Addictions.
Race Director David Seligman said he was thrilled with the overall turnout.
“The weather’s always a bit of an X factor,” he said. “But this year’s couldn’t have been more perfect. A record number of runners took part. It was a fantastic day.”
The corner of Northwest Dogwood and Front streets provided a nice vantage point for viewing. The spot also served as the junction where the two different courses melded together and spilled down the final stretch toward Gilman Boulevard.
An amputee named Andrew Tong zipped past in his racing wheelchair. Body types of all kinds followed after that. Lean and vibrant high schoolers bounded along effortlessly. Middle-aged men with small paunches huffed and puffed toward the finish line with looks of grim determination. Women in their 30s with very little body fat skimmed along the city streets. And a fleet of hardcore runners, some adorned with wraparound sunglasses despite the overcast sky, pounded the pavement with their sights set on victory.
For Jasper Tollefson, of the University of Puget Sound, the day had additional special meaning. It was two years ago that his fraternity brother and former Issaquah resident Justin Bowlby died from a drug overdose. Participating in an event supportive of SAMA seemed like the right thing to do.
“Justin was so polite and cool,” Tollefson said. “He could reach out to all sorts of people and get along with them. But he had his vulnerabilities, too. We wish that we could have reached out to him sooner.
“Our fraternity (Beta Theta Pi) hasn’t been very proactive since his death,” he said. “I just got elected as the philanthropy chairman and I wanted us to get active. Justin’s father Jeff gives speeches about the dangers of drug addiction. He said that we’re all still grieving and feeling the loss. So, we decided to get a big turnout from our fraternity, our sister sorority and our Greek system as a whole. We had about 100 people run the race.
“And we were able to raise over $5,000 for SAMA,” he said. “It felt so cool to do that in Justin’s hometown. Afterward, we went to hang out at his dad’s house with a big barbecue. It was a fitting tribute in Justin’s memory.”
On the lighter side, 17-year old Ahren Stroming said he enjoyed the annual Rotary Run as an event for his family.
“It’s a fun thing for me, my dad and my brother to do together,” Stroming said. “We’ve done this for five years now. It’s become a cool tradition.
“I’m also a member of the cross country team at Liberty, so I had my own personal goal in this race,” he said. “I was shooting for the top 30, and I think I got it.”
He finished eighteenth overall with a time of 19:09. But did he beat his dad and brother?
“Oh yeah,” he said with a good-natured laugh. “No sweat.”
For the 5K, the top male finisher was Simon Sorensen 15:41, and the top female finisher was Lisa Knoblich at 19:30. For the 10K, Patrick McAuliffe led the male participants with a time of 30:53, while Vanessa Hunter was the top female finisher at 34:28.