Good turnout and weather for Husky Hustle 5K

HOUGHTON — While some Copper Country residents might have found Saturday morning’s cool, foggy, overcast weather less than desirable, perfect event conditions greeted the runners and walkers participating in the Husky Hustle 5K race on the Michigan Tech Trails. The race was organized by the Keweenaw Chapter of the Michigan Tech Alumni and Friends and the Michigan Tech cross country team. The 5K was part of the schedule of events for the Michigan Tech Alumni Reunion weekend with proceeds going to support the alumni chapter scholarship fund and the Huskies men’s and women’s varsity harriers (cross country teams).

With temperatures in the 60’s through mid-morning, runners were very comfortable and the competition up front was close with the first three finishers crossing the line within 26 seconds of one another. Kolson Kytta was the top male runner and first overall as well with a time of 19:05.

Kytta was followed by the female champion in second place overall, former Tech runner and skier and current assistant Husky Nordic skiing coach Kristen Monahan-Smith, clocking 19:29. William Shapton was close on Monahan-Smith’s heels recording a time of 19:31 for third place overall. Rounding out the Top 10 were Samantha Saenz (female runner-up, 19:55), Ethan Goss (20:05), veteran local racer Ken Wikgren (20:55), Alison Umbarg (22:24), Jason King (22:32), Andrew Dimock (23:13), and Ezequiel Medici (23:29).

Top walkers were Ethan and Ian Evensen for the men coming in together at 41:59 and 42:00, respectively. Angel Cooke was the first woman walker and fourth overall in a time of 46:43. Prizes for the top three men and women for the run and the walk were Michigan Tech gift cards that could be used at any campus retail outlet.

Event co-chairs Rochelle Spencer and Briana Tucker of the Keweenaw alumni chapter were pleased with the turnout of about 70 registrants and changes to the course for the fourth annual event.

“(The amount of people registered was) pretty close to on par, a little under from last year, but we had a couple extra sponsors. So I think we’re going to come out ahead with fundraising this year,” said Spencer. “We had a new course this year. And I think people enjoyed it a little better. It left less hills for everybody. So that went really well. And especially the kiddos seem to really enjoy the new (100-meter) fun run course. So that was exciting.”

In the past the Hustle course was the same 5K Tech Trails course used by both the current Husky student-athletes as well as for local high school cross country competition. That course is considered very challenging – even by those experienced in distance running – utilizing the drop and subsequent grueling climb of the Hairpin Loop. So for 2019, it was decided to make a new course specifically for the Hustle using only the upper trail loops that are on much flatter terrain. This facilitated faster times for the serious racers and a less daunting prospect for any novices that might consider the 3.1-mile distance to be enough of a test in and of itself.

Tucker expressed a desire to grow the event.

“(Race organizers) are trying to incorporate some feedback (from previous year’s participants). So trying to take out a little bit of the toughness of (the race course) to hopefully attract more people to (the event).”

After another successful year of the Husky Hustle, local runners and walkers can look forward to a slate of fall events to finish up the 2019 road and trail running season. And next summer in early August they can expect another low-key fun run on the Tech Trails during the Tech reunion.