The rain (mostly) 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.
“It felt amazing. I was smiling the entire time. I’m so happy,” women’s marathon winner Tovah Swartz-Ireland of Bellingham said.
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, a former runner for Arizona State University who recently graduated, won the event in 2 hours, 21 minutes, 18 seconds, which is just 2½ minutes off of qualifying for the U.S. Olympics trials.
He beat a record time of 2:33:36 set in 2019 by Sequim’s Michael Cobb. Klein’s time was also nearly 14 minutes ahead of second-place finisher Jonny Handel, who had a time of 2:34:59.
Klein 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.
The best Olympic Peninsula men’s time was Port Angeles’ Michael Higuera, who finished 12th with a time of 3:24:43. Travis Tenneson of Sequim finished 13th with a time of 3:25:55.
Cobb, a 2015 Sequim High graduate, switched to the half marathon this year and won in a time of 1:10:49, beating Gregory Mitchell of Wilsonville, Ore., by 7 seconds.
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 Mitchell 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, who was coach an Linfield College for several years (and coached former Sequim High standout Adrian Clifford), 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.
Swartz-Ireland won the women’s marathon in an outstanding time of 3:05:34, by 6½ minutes over Angie Banks of Morgan Hill, Calif. (3:11:59), besting the women’s 2019 winning time by more than 30 minutes.
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 best Olympic Peninsula women’s time was by Sequim’s Heidi Hietpas, who came in sixth with a time of 3:26:55. Hietpas won the event in 2019, though her time this year was about 10 minutes faster than 2019. She also finished sixth in 2018.
In the women’s half marathon, the race was won by Faith Reynolds of Stony Brook, N.Y., with a time of 1:22:31. The best local time was by Port Angeles’ Kynzie DeLeon, who came in 11th with a time of 1:40:04. Katherine Braun of Port Angeles was right behind at 1:41:26, good for 12th.
“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.”
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.
Langdon Larson, a runner with the Port Angeles High School Roughriders, won the 10K on Saturday with a time of 36:42. Coming in second place was his sibling Lauren Larson, who is graduating from Port Angeles High this month; she had the best women’s time at 38:44.
Winning the men’s 5K was Joseph Skovron of Seattle with a time of 16:44, crushing the field. Coming in second was Michael Lessor of Port Angeles, who finished with a time of 17:39.
Winning the women’s 5K was Lizbeth Nieves of Chicago with a time of 22:13. She came in eighth in the women’s marathon the following day.
The best local women’s 5K time was Port Angeles’ Leia Larson, who came in third with a time of 22:20.
Julianne DeMars of Kirkland won the marathon walk with a time of 5:24:26. The best local time was by Diane Grove of Sequim, who finished in 5:58.21.
Dana Lawson of Sequim finished the marathon walk in 11:03:25. Lawson competed with just one leg, using high-tech crutches to walk the 26 miles.
Not counting the team relays, more than 1,200 people ran or walked in the races over two days, with 197 finishing the marathon, 522 the half marathon, 235 the 10K and 255 the 5K. Another 33 finished the marathon walk.
The North Olympic Discovery Marathon is sponsored by the Peninsula Daily News and the Sequim Gazette.
For full results or to find photographs of competitors, people can go to tinyurl.com/2021NODMresults. People can look up specific runners’ times by bib number or by their name.