The question isn’t how big the marathon can get anymore; it’s how big the community wants it to be.
That’s how Larry Little, North Olympic Discovery Marathon director, sees the situation as he and the hundreds of volunteers prepare for the marathon and half-marathon slated for June 8.
"I heard that in past years, people had to stay at Lake Crescent or Port Townsend; that’s an issue but I look at that as a good issue," Little says. "We have to maintain the quality of the race … (but) the future is wide open."
In its sixth year, the North Olympic Discovery Marathon and Half-Marathon has grown from 535 individuals (both races) in 2003 to 1,445 individual finishers at last year’s races, not counting relay teams and the Kids Marathon.
It’s a figure Little says could grow easily by expanding the race’s ad campaign – if that’s what the community desires. But the balance between growth and maintaining a high-quality race is often a precarious one, he notes: Growing races start to lose the personal touches offered by smaller ones, and in road racing, reputation is key.
Whatever the future holds, this year’s event figures to see an increase in runners as NODM directors agreed to add the Olympic Medical Center 5k/10k to the race weekend, scheduled for noon on June 7.
"They came to us requesting that we put it on," Little said. "At this point in our growth it makes sense to us (with the) infrastructure in place. It’s a way to include family members coming in from out of town. Now it’s an entire weekend of running."
About 700-800 youths figure to be hitting the Port Angeles City Pier pavement for the NODM Kids Marathon at 4 p.m. Saturday, June 7, when a number of area youngsters fulfill their goal of 26.2 miles.
The next day, the marathon kicks off with walkers starting from Blake Avenue in Sequim at 7 a.m., followed by the marathoners at Blake Avenue and half-marathoners in Agnew at 9 a.m.
Last year, rain showered finishers at the finish line in Port Angeles, a fact Little says had little effect on the race’s quality or positive comments from participants or the race’s 600 volunteers.
And with about 300 locals signed up for this year’s races, Little says the local racing scene is stronger than ever.
"The demographics of running have changed," he says. "Years ago it was half a dozen elite guys out there. People feel this is more accessible. It’s not elitist now."
The beginning of the full marathon is going through the heart of Sequim proper. The marathoners start at Carrie Blake Park, run a loop to the east toward Keeler Road, Sequim Bay Road through the park again and onto Blake Avenue. At about 9:25 a.m., the runners trek west along Washington Street. They run on the north side of Washington (closed to parking) to Fifth Avenue, where they turn north, then east on Fir Street, north on Sequim Avenue and end up on Hendrickson Road where they will follow the Olympic Discovery Trail to the finish line at Port Angeles City Pier.
Danny Hayman of Seattle took the 2007 marathon title in 2:46:03 while Lori Buratto of Spokane Valley won the women’s full marathon in 3:10:52. Sequim’s Stephanie Marcy, then a high school senior, won the women’s half-marathon crown in 1:28:52 while Ron Young of Oak Harbor won the men’s division and overall title in 1:16:08.
North Olympic Discovery Marathon race weekend
10-11 a.m. – 8th annual OMC 5k/10k race registration*
Noon – 8th annual OMC 5k/10k race**
Noon-6 p.m. – Race expo*
Noon-7 p.m. – Packet pick-up*
2 p.m. – OMC race awards**
3:15-3:45 p.m. – NODM Kids Marathon race registration**
4 p.m. – Kids Marathon race**
7 a.m. – Marathon walk starts (Sequim)
9 a.m. – Marathon and marathon relay teams start (Sequim)
9 a.m. – Half-marathon starts (Agnew)
10 a.m. – Jamestown canoe arrives at Port Angeles harbor
10:10 a.m. – First half-marathon finisher expected**
11 a.m.-3 p.m. – Music/entertainment**
11:35 a.m. – First marathon finisher expected**
12:15 p.m. – Half-marathon awards**
2:15 p.m. – Marathon and marathon relay team awards**
* – Red Lion Hotel, Port Angeles ** – City Pier, Port Angeles