More than 220 people hungry for competition came out to run in heavily safeguarded conditions in the Elwha Bridge 5K/10K Run, the first event of the Run the Peninsula series, on Feb. 6.
Instead of taking off in a pack, runners ran in groups of just two at a time in staggered starts, running more against the clock than each other in the return of competitive running that had been sidelined for the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Runners wore masks at the start and finish lines and in the sign-in areas. Runners were treated to near-perfect weather for a distance race, with mild temperatures and only the slightest drizzle.
“The COVID precautions did make the race experience very different than participants are used to, but the precautions worked well to protect participants,” race director Victoria Jones said. “
Every runner was so gracious and all abided by the rules so we could have a safe race. People were so happy to simply be doing something that seemed a little normal.”
Each of the four division winners were from Port Angeles, but runners from all over the Olympic Peninsula, Kitsap County and the Puget Sound competed.
Winning the 10K for the men was Michael Higuera of Port Angeles with a time of 40 minutes, 43 seconds. He won by a margin of more than two minutes as the second place time by Justin Serrill of Issaquah was 42:44.
Winning the 10K for the women was Elizabeth Boyden of Port Angeles with a time of 48:01. That was also the ninth-best overall 10K time of the day. She won by over a minute, as Tiffany DeMers of Bremerton had the next best time at 49:07.
Winning the 5K for the men was Michael Lessor of Port Angeles with a time of 18:32, winning his face by a staggering gap of five minutes. Second place was a time by Dylan Zehr of Maple Valley with a time of 23:35.
Winning the 5K for the women was Julie Brown with a time of 21:43, winning by a whopping 66 seconds over the second-place time of Leia Larson of Port Angeles (22:49). Brown had the second-faster overall time of the day, as well.
Title sponsors for the event are the Sequim Gazette and Peninsula Daily News, and presenting sponsors are Olympic Medical Center and the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe. The race is put on by the Port Angeles Marathon Association and proceeds will be to several local organizations, including the Peninsula Trails Coalition, which builds and maintains the Olympic Discovery Trail.
The next event in the Run the Peninsula Series is the Railroad Bridge Run in Sequim on April 24.