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Stepping up

Unleashed at Stadium Bowl unifies community, supports rescue animals

Participants at the 2016 Unleashed at Stadium Bowl struggle together up the steps. Approximately 500 people are expected to participate this year. Photo courtesy of Unleashed at Stadium Bowl

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Tacoma's iconic Stadium Bowl, designed by architect Frederick Heath and opened in 1910, has hosted many historic figures, including presidents Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Warren Harding.

In 2008, it was even credited as being one of the best high school football stadiums in the U.S. by ESPN.

The bowl seats 15,000 people, but the cement steps do more than provide a place to sit for faithful football fans. They're also an unforgiving challenge for those willing to break a sweat.

On Sunday, Aug. 6, upwards of 500 people, the young and the old, from all walks of life, will run these steps in solidarity as part of the seventh annual Unleashed at Stadium Bowl - a fundraiser to support Kindred Souls Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit advocating for the welfare of less adoptable dogs and cats.

"The goal of Unleashed is to raise enough money to support the cost of a no-kill shelter in Tacoma where we would let less adoptable animals live out their lives in dignity," said Brian Nelson, the chairman of Kindred Souls Foundation and spearhead of Unleashed at Stadium Bowl. "We hope (Unleashed) can become this opportunity for authentic connection in our community."

Nelson, a retired major in the Washington National Guard, said he learned of the Stadium Bowl steps as a great workout upon his return from a tour in Afghanistan. A military recruiter he met at Stadium High School recommended he run the Stadium Bowl for the ultimate workout.

After trying it, Nelson said he had felt like "Master of the Universe."

"Everyone should feel like this, I thought," Nelson said.

Nelson and his wife, Kelly, started Kindred Souls in 2005. The couple had tried the usual litany of fundraising events, but nothing resonated, Nelson said. When Nelson became aware of Stadium Bowl, he said he felt an organized run would have a unifying effect to bring everyone together, regardless of gender, age, race or sexual orientation.

"All-out physical effort brings people together one hundred percent of the time," Nelson said. "It is a unifying experience."

Pre-registration was due July 30; however, day-of-registration starts at 8 a.m. Aug. 6 and costs $75 for all (no military or youth discounts). T-shirts are not guaranteed. Following the presentation of colors and the singing of the National Anthem, the race will kick off at 9 a.m. at the cannon shot of a Pack 75 Howitzer.

Spectators are welcomed and encouraged to root on family and friends at no charge. A catered food garden will be on site, and participants and spectators can learn about the community partners at various booths. Each participant will be given a passport to stamp at each booth.

Participants will either run, which is timed, or walk, which is not timed. One lap is 814 steps up and 814 steps down, or three quarters of a mile.

To learn more, visit

Unleashed at Stadium Bowl, 8 a.m., Sunday, Aug. 6, $75 day of registration, 111 N. E St., Tacoma, 253.226.3597,

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