PORT ANGELES — The rain held off and runners, most of whom were thrilled and thankful to be competing again, were greeted by cool weather in the return this weekend of the North Olympic Discovery Marathon.
“Oh, it was nice. Yayy,” said Kenzie DeLeon. A long-distance runner for the Port Angeles Roughriders who now attends Portland State, she was the top finisher among local runners in the women’s half-marathon.
“I totally missed it last year,” said DeLeon, who ran a virtual race instead. “It was sad not having anyone cheer you on. It’s exciting to see people again.”
“It felt amazing. I was smiling the entire time. I’m so happy,” said women’s marathon winner Tovah Swartz-Ireland.
Sequim High School senior Kalli Wiker set a school record Friday night, hitting nine 3-pointers and scoring 30 points for the girls’ basketball team. On Monday, she’s playing in the Olympic League girls’ basketball semifinals.
On Sunday, the valedictorian and future tennis player for George Fox University also ran the half-marathon.
“In the mornings, I find time to run. It helps me in all the other sports,” Wiker said. “This was supposed to be my rest day. I came out and did this instead.”
Amazingly, both the men’s and women’s marathon winners ran their first-ever marathons.
Men’s marathon winner Adam Klein of Tualatin, Ore., collapsed at the finish line, his legs trembling. He literally gave all he had to win the race.
Klein, who was a distance runner at Arizona State University, said he was trying to set a time to qualify for the U.S. Olympics trials. He came just 2½ minutes short of that goal.
“I’m tired, my legs hurt,” Klein said in a livechat over the phone after winning the race. “Oh, my God, I’m so tired.”
“I didn’t feel anything the last five miles, I was just out of it,” he said.
Klein said he picked the NODM to run his first marathon because it’s not an easy marathon, with a couple of tough hills between Sequim and Port Angeles.
“I wanted to do a course that’s fun and a challenge and build my confidence,” he said.
Swartz-Ireland, a Western Washington University student, nearly didn’t get the chance to run her first marathon. She didn’t make reservations for the Coupeville-Port Townsend ferry and got put on standby all night.
“I was the last car on the last ferry. I told them, ‘I need to make it!’”
Swartz-Ireland ran in her first race in over a year and a half. She said her goal was simply to finish.
“I didn’t expect to win. I thought I would do decent,” she said. “Once I got out there, my competitive juices just started flowing.”
The men’s half-marathon winner was Michael Cobb of Sequim, who won the 2019 NODM marathon. It was his first race since February 2020.
“Training has been intermittent at best,” Cobb said. “I wanted to come out and run a race.”
Cobb gave credit to Gregory Mitchell of Wilsonville, Ore., for pushing him to the victory. Cobb and Mitchell finished well ahead of all the other half-marathon runners, with Cobb about five seconds ahead of Mitchell.
“I tried to make him work for it,” Mitchell said. “He [Cobb] was strong. I kept trying to close on him, and then he’d pick it up.”
Mitchell said the NODM half-marathon was harder than he thought with a couple of big hills early in the course.
“Had I known about those steep dips, I might have reconsidered running it,” he said.
More results will be posted online at www.peninsuladailynews.com and in Tuesday’s sports section.