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Celebrating the Salmon Run

JBLM's MWR Program honors the return of a keystone species at 6th annual Salmon Run

The 5K participants receive medals as they cross the finish line during the 5th annual JBLM Salmon Run (2016) at Heritage Hill on McChord Field. Photo courtesy of JBLM MWR

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Here in the Pacific Northwest, salmon are keystone species. They play a vital role in our ecosystem by providing nutrients to the land, water, wildlife and people that live within it. Without salmon, at least 137 species in the area would be in peril and the biological foundation of our forests and rivers would weaken dramatically. Because of this, the annual salmon run, or the return of salmon to the rivers and streams where they were born and will subsequently return to complete their lifecycle, is a true cause for celebration in the Pacific Northwest. This year, Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) is honoring the salmon run at Morale, Welfare & Recreation's 6th annual Salmon Run races.

MWR's Salmon Run will be held this Saturday at McChord Field's Heritage Hill. Race-day activities will include a children's 1K Smolt Run and adults 5K and 12K salmon runs. As participants finish the race, they'll receive a free T-shirt and race medal, as well as a free salmon bake meal after all race heats are complete. "Last year, people had to pay for the salmon bake," said Gloria Tomczewski, JBLM's MWR special events coordinator. But this year, we've been able to work with a local sponsor who donated the salmon, so everybody will get a free salmon bake after the run."

Although the number of actual salmon returning to Washington State has been declining over the last three years, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the number of Salmon Run race participants at JBLM is on the rise.  "It's definitely a growing race," said Tomczewski. "Last year, the event grew by about 150 registered racers."

Registration for this year's Salmon Run opened Aug. 28, but anyone interested in participating can still register as late as race day, prior to the start of the races. Participants don't need to be affiliated with the military, either, although Department of Defense (DoD) card holders will receive a discount when registering and race participants must present a valid form of ID to enter McChord Field. Photos and results from the Salmon Run will be posted on the JBLM MWR Facebook page following the event.

2017 Salmon Run, 10:45 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 9, Heritage Hill at McChord Field, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, $10-50, 253.967.4768,

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