PORT ANGELES — Bruce Skinner loves to travel. And loves to run.
Over the past seven years, he found a perfect way to combine both passions. And while he’s crossed one impressive goal off his checklist, he’s just getting ready to start another.
Skinner, executive director of the Olympic Medical Center Foundation, has been running for 30 years and had participated in marathons and other races in the United States.
In 2015, he ran in his first marathon on another continent in Paris. He also ran one in Reykjavik, Iceland. Skinner came up with the idea to then run a marathon on every continent.
“Two things I really enjoy — running races and traveling,” he said. “My wife [Kathy] and I love to travel. And I love to run.”
He added marathons in Istanbul for Asia, and Capetown, South Africa, to pick up Africa. He also ran a marathon in Sydney, Australia.
That left two continents, one of them very difficult to run a marathon on — Antarctica.
Amazingly, in 2019, Skinner completed a marathon on King George Island, which is part of Antarctica about 65 miles off the Antarctic Peninsula.
He had every continent except for South America.
It turns out South America was a very difficult continent to cross off, partly because the COVID-19 pandemic that hit in early 2020.
He was registered to run a marathon on Easter Island, technically a part of South America, but that was canceled by the pandemic. Another marathon in Patagonia was canceled, and another in Buenos Aires and another in Rio de Janeiro.
Finally, Skinner decided he couldn’t wait for an official race. He ran by himself along the route of the Lima, Peru, Marathon over Memorial Day Weekend.
“I needed to get it out of the way. I’m 74 years old,” he said.
He picked Lima because, surprisingly, it has very cool weather even though it is near the equator. Several hundred miles due east of the city is the sweltering Amazon rainforest. But the coastal city is cooled by ocean currents. Late May is essentially late autumn, early winter. Sure enough, the temperature for Skinner’s race was in the 60s, perfect for running a marathon.
“It was much like a June day here,” he said.
His daughter Alison Agness, a 1995 Port Angeles High School graduate who now lives in Seattle, came to run the race course with him. Skinner wore the number 7 to show he was going for a marathon finish on all seven continents.
It was a mostly flat course, not too difficult, and the two of them finished in about seven hours.
“She let me win,” Skinner said.
Skinner said he has no plans to go back to South America to run in a more official marathon.
“I’m good with it,” he said.
Skinner certainly isn’t finished, either with running or traveling. He has a new goal he is already working on. Now that he has run a marathon on every continent, he plans to run a half-marathon on every continent.
“A half-marathon is a lot easier to do than a marathon,” he said.
He plans to run a half-marathon in Patagonia. He expects this one to be difficult because, unlike Lima at sea level, this one is going to be at altitude.
He is planning to run another half-marathon in December at Angkor Wat, a famous and ancient temple complex in Cambodia.
And then in 2024? He has signed up for a return to King George Island off the coast of Antarctica, this time to do the half-marathon.
Skinner counts himself fortunate to be able to do this.
“I’m just lucky. I have no hip, no knee, no foot issues,” he said.
Sports Editor Pierre LaBossiere can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or [email protected]