Female Olympic Discovery Marathon title up for grabs

PORT ANGELES — Female runners in this weekend’s full marathon can breathe a sigh of relief but women running in the half-marathon need to be on their toes.

That’s because Lori Buratto of Spokane Valley, a three-time winner with the two best times in the North Olympic Discovery Marathon, is taking the weekend off because of an injury.

That leaves the female marathon title up for grabs.

But look out in the half-marathon ladies because defending two-time winner Stephanie Marcy of Sequim is back to defend her title.

Marcy, a 2007 Sequim High School graduate and a Stanford track athlete, has two of the three best times in the five years of the half-marathon.

She won with the second-best time in 1:28:52.2 last year and won with the third best time, 1:29:37, in 2006 as a high school junior.

Marcy also was third in 2005 as a sophomore and ninth in 2004 as a freshman.

Sequim’s Rebecca Payne holds the women’s half-marathon record of 1:28:41 in 2004.

Thanks to Stephanie Marcy, her parents are also runners.

“She’s why I’m a runner,” her mother, Ione, said. “She was having such a blast running and we enjoyed watching her.”

Ione Marcy, 46, began running five years ago, and her husband and Stephanie’s father, Stuart, began running four years ago.

Stuart will join his daughter, who he is picking up from the airport Saturday night, in the half-marathon while Ione will compete in her third North Olympic Discovery Marathon and sixth marathon overall.

Ione ran 3:54 in her first local marathon and 3:54 in her second.

“I ran my second race with a sprained ankle from mile one,” she said. “It’s amazing the ran the same time almost to the second.”

There will be a little less spark, though, in the women’s marathon this year because the two best runners from last year have not registered for the 2008 race, set for Sunday to start in Sequim at 9 a.m. and finish at the Port Angeles City Pier.

“Unfortunately, I won’t be running on Sunday,” Buratto wrote in an e-mail. “I ran the Boston Marathon in April and worsened a nagging hip injury in the process.

“I love NODM and I will definitely be thinking about it Sunday morning. I’m sure my success at the event has something to do with my affection for it, but I also truly love the course, the community and the volunteers and race committee are the best!”

Buratto’s personal record is from her 3:10:52.8 winning time last year during a rainy and stormy race.

“I really had to work for that one — passing the leader with less than a mile to go,” she wrote. “Age is starting to catch up with me, but I’m still hoping to run a sub-3:10.

“I can’t think of any place I’d rather do that than PA, so I’m hoping to come back next year.”

Buratto also won NODM in 2005 with the second-best overall time of 3:12:06 and won in 2004 in 3:16:12.

The 37-year-old science teacher at Central Valley High School in Spokane Valley has won three Spokane marathons in her own backyard.

Buratto won the Uncle Joe 50-kilometer ultramarathon in 2005 and was ranked the 25th best female in the country at that distance.

“That was also where my hip injury started,” she said.

Last year’s runner-up, Ann Armstrong of Poulsbo — a two-time winner in other marathons and a three-time runner-up including last year — also has not registered for the race as of Thursday.

“We shut down online registration at 3 p.m. [Thursday],” race director Larry Little said.

Registration will continue today, Saturday, at 10 a.m. at the Red Lion Hotel in Port Angeles.

There were 1,697 online registered runners, and several hundred more are expected to sign up at Red Lion before Sunday’s race.

For the first time NODM is holding marathon weekend in conjunction with the Olympic Medical Center’s 10-kilometer and 7K walk and runs, and the Kids’ Marathon, all scheduled for Saturday in Port Angeles.

Little is expecting about 1,900 total entrants for the marathon and half-marathon and close to 2,000 for all the Saturday and Sunday races.

That will set a new attendance record for the sixth-annual marathon.

“We could have 400 kids at the Kids’ Marathon on Saturday,” Little said.

There are 207 signed up for the Kids’ Marathon right now and Little expects at least that much to register day-of-the-race.

Little is expecting the race site to turn into a madhouse today and Sunday.

“We will be hopping at the Red Lion from the start of registration at 10 a.m. Saturday until 5:30 p.m. Sunday,” he said Thursday. “We will have 10,000 people a day.”

There has never been even a two-time winner in the men’s marathon but Renton’s Preston Brashers may put an end to that because he is registered for Sunday’s race.

Brashers won the 2006 event with a course-record time of 2:35:47. He just nudged Port Townsend’s Ian Fraser (2:35:56) at the tape.

Fraser won the first NODM with an identical time of 2:35:56 in 2003 with Mathew Sims of Whidbey Island right behind in second.

Sims turned around and won the 2005 men’s title in 2:47:40. Fraser ran in the half-marathon that year and won the race, knocking off two-time defending champion Frank Prince Jr. of Port Angeles.

Last year’s men’s winner was Danny Hayman of Seattle, who had a time of 2:46:03.7. That was the 22-year-old’s first marathon victory.

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