SPORTS: Blazing sun slows down runners at ninth annual North Olympic Discovery Marathon

PORT ANGELES — What a beautiful day to be on the North Olympic Peninsula on Sunday.

Unless you’re a marathon runner.

The temperature, in the high 60s, with an unrelenting sun and no cool breeze, made the ninth annual North Olympic Discovery Marathon the slowest on record.

“The women’s time was OK, but the men’s time was a little slow,” race director Larry Little said about the top marathon times.

Tanaya Gallagher of Peoria, Ariz., a suburb of Phoenix, finished with a decent time of 3 hours, 5 minutes and 16.1 seconds, the women’s winner and third overall.

She stayed on the heels of the top two men most of the race and even passed the runner-up at one point, finishing less than a minute behind Adam Read of Seattle, who claimed second place.

But Gallagher was pale and winded after the race and couldn’t talk very well for about 15 minutes.

And even though the North Olympic Peninsula is much cooler than Phoenix, the heat and humidity made running difficult, Gallagher said.

“This weather is nice to lay around in, but not to run in,” the 25-year-old marathon veteran said.

“I hit the wall really early, at 12 [miles],” she added.

Gallagher was disappointed because she was hoping to run a personal best time.

“The course is challenging compared to what I expected,” she said.

“I’m happy with my performance but I’m just really tired.”

This is Gallagher’s second win in seven races. Her first victory was in Whiskey Run (Prescott, Ariz.) in 2009.

This was Gallagher’s first time in the North Olympic Discovery event. She said she was impressed with the area.

“It’s beautiful.”

Now it’s time for Gallagher and her boyfriend, Joshua Esquivel, to relax and have a good time as they spend the next four days visiting the area.

“We’re going to see Hurricane Ridge and Lake Crescent,” Esquivel said.

Men’s race

The men’s marathon competition, meanwhile, was a one-two punch.

Read, 28, was in first most of the day but Victoria’s 30-year-old Chris Callendar caught him at the three-mile mark and never looked back.

“I hit the wall,” Read said about getting passed by Callendar.

The heat did him in, Read added.

“I trained in the cool and here I’m running in the heat.

“It’s a good course, though. The hills are rolly and short.”

Read equaled his best finish in five marathons. He also was runner-up at Whidbey Island.

Read finished in a time of 3:04:25.8.

Callendar, meanwhile, had his best finish in only his second marathon.

He finished in the top 50 in Victoria with a time of 3:02:56 in 2007.

Callendar’s goal Sunday was to finish in the top three.

“I saw where their top-three or so runners finished around three hours most of the time,” he said.

“So I thought I had a good chance for a top-three finish.”

The men’s championship and a time of 2:59:46 surprised Callendar, especially in the heat.

“It’s really nice to win,” he said.

The Canadian said he liked the course.

“It’s a great course that’s a little challenging,” he said.

The toughest part for Callendar was at the 17-to-20 mile segment.

“It’s hilly at that point,” he said. “Down and up, down and up.”

Callendar wasn’t sure if he would be defending his title next year.

But with a win under his belt after only two marathons, Callendar probably isn’t ready to hang up his shoes yet.

Chris Fendrich was the overall winner in the half-marathon in 1:16:09.6 while Shannon Manning was the first woman to cross the line as she captured 16th place overall in 1:32:07.

Bend’s Bryan Hakanson was first in the 10-kilometer run in 40:26.1 while Sequim’s Sue Weidemier was the first woman, seventh overall, in 30:15.

The overall 5-kilometer winner was Daniel Baouya of North Saanich, British Columbia.

________

Sports Editor Brad ­LaBrie can be reached at 360-417-3525 or at [email protected]

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