Runners break from the North Olympic Discovery Marathon starting line in 2017. This year’s event features a slightly modified course. The marathon and marathon relays will begin at 7:30 a.m. from 7 Cedars Casino in Blyn, and the half-marathon will begin at 8:30 a.m. at the Storm King Soccer Fields. Sequim Gazette file photo by Michael Dashiell

Runners break from the North Olympic Discovery Marathon starting line in 2017. This year’s event features a slightly modified course. The marathon and marathon relays will begin at 7:30 a.m. from 7 Cedars Casino in Blyn, and the half-marathon will begin at 8:30 a.m. at the Storm King Soccer Fields. Sequim Gazette file photo by Michael Dashiell

Modified slightly, NPDM marathon and related events hit the trails

It won’t be quite the same as past marathons, but the North Olympic Discovery Marathon still expects more than 1,500 competitors to hit the trails both Saturday and Sunday.

The marathon is returning as a live event this weekend after it had to be converted to a purely virtual race in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Race Director Victoria Jones said the Run the Peninsula group has already held a couple of live races so far this year — The Elwha River Bridge 5K/10K in February and the Railroad Bridge Run 5K/10K in April — and has learned a lot about how to conduct races safely in the time of COVID-19.

“Those two runs helped us make a lot of changes,” Jones said. “We’re particularly excited to be back to a live race.”

Run the Peninsula is sponsored by the Peninsula Daily News and the Sequim Gazette.

The biggest alteration is the lack of a mass marathon start as in past years, and races will be spread out over two days.

The 5K and 10K out-and-back races from the Port Angeles City Pier will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday. The kids’ marathon, as usual, will be held at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

On Sunday, the marathon and marathon relays will begin at 7:30 a.m. from 7 Cedars Casino in Blyn, and the half-marathon will begin at 8:30 a.m. at the Storm King Soccer Fields.

An early walking start for marathoners will begin at 6 a.m. at 7 Cedars.

Unfortunately, the large crowd of well-wishers accustomed to welcoming runners to the finish line at City Pier with live music and a beer garden will have to return in 2022 as the pandemic is lingering, and large crowds are still not a good idea.

Jones said she has been working closely with Clallam County Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry on protocols for keeping this year’s event safe.

Jones said participants can still receive a free beer post-race at either The Barhop or The Rail.

Jones said registration numbers are down a bit this year, which is understandable because no one knew until a couple of months ago whether or not there could be a race.

“People were hesitant to register. They weren’t sure it was going to happen,” Jones said.

The NODM is popular with Vancouver Island residents, so another change this year is few Canadians are expected because the border is still not open. However, Jones said people from 48 states have registered to run in the various races. The only states missing are Rhode Island and West Virginia.

Numbers are pretty solid for every race, except for one — the popular half-marathon. Jones said that in past years, as many as 1,100 people registered to run this specific race. This year, only 662 have registered so far.

Other numbers are solid — 132 children are registered to run in the kids’ race, 257 runners in the 5K, 273 in the 10K, 261 in the full marathon, 20 teams in the marathon relay and 40 people in the marathon walk.

The virtual races also are being held just like last year. Jones said 463 people have registered in the virtual races, and registration for these races will be ongoing until the end of the year. People can go to www.nodm.com to register for a virtual race at their leisure.

After the marathon, the next Run the Peninsula event will be the Larry Scott Trail 5K/10K in October in Port Townsend.

Lawson set to hit the trail, raise awareness

Hundreds of competitors in the North Olympic Discovery Marathon can expect to pass a determined woman on the trail.

She’ll be using crutches and competing on one leg — with no prosthetics.

Dana Lawson has a message she wants to share with those people.

Lawson has been preparing for months to do the marathon, working her way up to 20 miles a day with a team of supporters by her side. She said right now is in a “taper-down phase” as part of her final preparations for the race.

Lawson is a Port Angeles resident who lost her leg to cancer and continues to fight the disease in her hip and pelvis. She’ll be relying on her SideStix high-tech crutches and sheer will to go the full 26.2 miles. She’s figured she’s already done 20 and can make the little extra push for those final 6 miles.

She’ll be starting at 7 Cedars Casino on her own at 1:30 a.m., several hours ahead of the other runners. Her hope is to arrive at the Port Angeles City Pier by 1 p.m., 11½ hours later.

Dana Lawson and Stella enjoy a trek on the Olympic Discovery Trail in mid-March. Lawson, a Port Angeles resident, is training to participate in the North Olympic Discovery Marathon between Sequim and Port Angeles , set for Sunday. Sequim Gazette file photo by Michael Dashiell

Dana Lawson and Stella enjoy a trek on the Olympic Discovery Trail in mid-March. Lawson, a Port Angeles resident, is training to participate in the North Olympic Discovery Marathon between Sequim and Port Angeles , set for Sunday. Sequim Gazette file photo by Michael Dashiell

Lawson said that while she has definitely gotten stronger while training, the effort has been very hard on her hands.

“My hands are definitely in rough shape. I’ve got blisters, but nothing so excruciating that it’s holding me up,” she said.

Her story has brought supporters along with her on the trail as she trains.

“A team of women have rallied me,” she said. “Domestic abuse survivors.”

Lawson, also a domestic abuse survivor, is running to raise awareness about domestic abuse. She has a crowdfunding program called “Heart & Sole: Racing for Survivors” at tinyurl.com/kwv579ta. Funds raised by her marathon run will directly support her program, Unbounded Horizons, which uses the outdoors to help women heal from domestic abuse.

So far, Lawson has raised $3,745 toward a $25,000 goal.

As she will be on the trail hours before other runners, hundreds of people will pass her and she’ll be wearing a T-shirt promoting her Heart & Sole campaign.

Lawson said another reason she is doing the marathon is she made a promise many years ago to run a marathon with her mother. Her mother never got that chance as she passed away from cancer.

“For 22 years, running a marathon has been in the back of my mind. I made a promise to her I would never give up,” Lawson said. “I feel like my mom is literally walking along with me, holding my hand.”

More information about Unbounded Horizons can be found at unboundedhorizons.org.

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