West Valley XC Runner wins Independence Day 5K

FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Before firing up the grill for a Fourth of July Barbecue, Fairbanks residents took part in the 34th annual Independence Day Run on Thursday.

The 5-kilometer course ran along bike baths, side roads and sidewalk on both sides of the Chena River before concluding at Pioneer Park.

The proceeds of the race benefit West Valley Cross Country, so it was only fitting a current member of the program was first to break the finish line.

Incoming Wolfpack sophomore Koen House took the overall crown with a time of 18:18 seconds.

Deborah Herzog, a resident of Hawaii, was the first woman to cross the finish line, coming in at 22:39.

"At the start, everyone is excited so it seems like a fast start," Herzog said. "But then, everyone settled in when we crossed the bridge and everything. It seemed like everyone was going at a good pace to start off so I just tried to keep up that pace."

House crossed the finish line just two seconds before the next competitor.

"Well, it was pretty hard. I mean, like, trying to run with that guy, holy cow he is hard to run with," House said. "But, I just kept in the game and tried my best."

Next in the race series schedule is the Run of the Valkyries.

The 8K race begins at 10 a.m. at Pioneer Park Saturday.