Port Angeles: Economic windfall expected from Sunday's marathon
as more than 2,000 descend on Clallam County
PORT ANGELES -- The economic impact of Sunday's North Olympic Discovery Marathon could be more than twice that of the May 13 visit by the Holland America cruise ship MS Zaandam.
The 26.2-mile marathon begins at Carrie Blake Park in Sequim at 9 a.m. Sunday, and the 13.1-mile half-marathon begins at the same time from Robin Hill Farm County Park in Agnew.
Both races will finish at City Pier in Port Angeles.
The massive cruise ship that docked at the Port of Port Angeles' North Pier last month brought an estimated 1,200 people to the downtown Port Angeles area for about seven hours.
About 1,050 people are registered to run in either the marathon or half-marathon on Sunday. According to registration figures only about 200 of those hail from Clallam or Jefferson counties.
The rest are arriving from 40 states and Canadian provinces and three foreign countries as well as the Puget Sound area.
Each runner brings 1.8 people along to the race, according to national averages.
``I don't think a lot of people are aware that it isn't just the runners -- it's who they bring with them,'' said Arla Holzschuh, executive director of the Port Angeles Downtown Association.
Lodges filling up
Those people already have begun arriving at lodging establishments in Port Angeles and Sequim.
``Many marathoners already are here and have been seen in the businesses,'' Holzschuh said.
``We started contacting the restaurants last Monday to ensure they were well aware of the marathon and Renaissance Faire taking place this weekend,'' she said.
The faire, which features jousting re-creations and other attractions, begins tonight at the Clallam County Fairgrounds.
Welcome posters, usually placed in downtown Port Angeles business windows the day before an event such as a cruise ship visit or business convention, started going up on Monday, reflecting the marathon's prolonged impact, Holzschuh said.
The Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce had its first two runners visit Thursday afternoon to redeem coupons for a free lavender plant donated by Cedarbrook Herb Farm, Executive Director Marny Hannan said.
The chamber sent out the coupons to the first 500 marathon or half-marathon entrants, along with promotional brochures, she said.
``Things are picking up. I think it is great that the marathon will be going through the middle of downtown Sequim,'' Hannan said.
``It's a festival, almost.''
European connection for Sunday's marathon
Port Angeles Marathon Association President Larry Little said one example of the potential economic benefits of this weekend's marathon and half-marathon are Thomas and Elke Buchner.
The Buchners traveled from Lannepax, France, to run the marathon, Little said. They arrived Tuesday and are staying until June 22.
When the couple heard about the race and how well run it was, they decided to spend the $550 to travel to Port Angeles, Little said -- an amount that was ``nothing'' to them.
Now they are trying to organize a group of about 15 French athletes who ran the New York Marathon a few years ago to run the North Olympic marathon next year, Little said.
The Buchners also are translating the marathon's Web site -- www.nodm.com -- into French and German to attract more European runners.
``And when people travel here from Europe, they don't stay a few days,'' Little said.
``They stay a few weeks.''
Brian Gawley, Peninsula Daily News
Marathon mania on North Olympic Peninsula: here's the rundown
PORT ANGELES -- The second annual North Olympic Discovery Marathon and Half-Marathon may end up being almost twice as big this year.
The Sequim-to-Port Angeles races start at 9 a.m. on Sunday.
A total of 535 runners finished both races last year -- 999 have signed up so far for this year's event.
``I haven't checked to see if any more have signed up for the past two days, so we should be over 1,000,'' said Larry Little, race director, on Thursday.
Little guesses that the 2004 total will be close to 1,050 runners.
Most of the racers are from towns and cities outside Clallam and Jefferson counties and come here with their families -- a boon for local restaurants and hotels.
The 26-mile marathon -- an officially sanctioned Boston Marathon qualifier -- begins at Sequim's Carrie Blake Park.
The 13.1-mile half-marathon starts at the same time at Robin Hill Park.
The finish line for both races is at the Port Angeles City Pier.
Registration for the races is still open through Saturday at the Red Lion Hotel, with a special exposition there on Saturday from noon to 8 p.m.
Full race details are at www.northolympicdiscoverymarathon.com, or phone 360-417-1301.
Cost is $100 for the full marathon, $60 for the half-marathon.
Little is elated about how well the second marathon is coming together.
``It's amazing,'' he said Thursday. ``There's not a better race in the country.''
Little says this is the best because of how well organized it is, the safety and scenic beauty of the course, the quality of the T-shirts each runner receives, the number of volunteers and aid stations and also the fact that each runner is personally greeted as he or she finishes the race.
There are 15 aid stations, more than last year.
More than 510 volunteers have signed up, which is an ``incredible percentage'' compared to the number of runners, Little said.
``We do a better job than anybody else,'' Little said.
The race's title sponsor this year is Virginia Mason Team Medicine.
The time to beat for the course record in the second race is 2:35:56, which was set by Chimacum's Ian Fraser, a former track standout at Port Townsend High School.
Fraser smoked the course, beating runner-up Matthew Simms by more than 10 minutes, 2:46:30.
As of Thursday, Fraser was not signed up for the race.
About a week ago, Fraser was second in the Vermont City Marathon, where he was just 9 seconds off the winning pace.
His time of 2:24:11 was a personal best.
Fraser also owns the two best times for Port Townsend's Rhody Run.
The time to beat in the women's race is 3:15:47. Jennifer Hansen was first last year.
The women's race was closer as Deborah Fletcher was second in 3:17:13 and Emily Thiel was third in 3:17:43.
The men's masters event also was a barn-burner with Harold Smyth first in 3:11:08, Tom Gillman runner-up in 3:11:26 and Larry Abraham third in 3:11:45.
Janet Green, though, dominated the women's masters race with a time of 3:37:39. No one was close to her.
Half-marathon winners were Frank Prince in 1:17:46 and Nancy Abraham in 1:37:32.
There are several good spectator viewing locations along the course, including:
* The marathon start at Carrie Blake Park, where the runners make a 4-mile loop and run past the start a second time.
* Anywhere along Washington Street in downtown Sequim.
* Sequim Avenue and Hendrickson Road.
* The west side of Railroad Bridge Park. For safety reasons, parking won't be allowed on the east side of the park.
The rest of the viewing is for marathon and half-marathon spectators:
* Turn off Old Olympic Highway onto Wild Currant Lane. Go about one-half mile and park at the end of the road, just before the Siebert Creek Bridge.
* Continue south on Old Olympic Highway for about 1 mile and head west on Highway 101. Travel about 2 miles and turn right at the Scenic Overlook (just past Deer Park Cinema).
This is mile 20. The runners have finished their final climb and it's all downhill and along the water for the next 6 miles.
* Finish area. Hollywood Beach is a good place to watch the runners cross the finish line.
There is free shuttle bus service for the runners from downtown Port Angeles to each race start.
Buses leave the Oak Street bus station starting at 6:40 a.m. with the last bus at 7:40 a.m.
Parking is available at Carrie Blake Park but there is no parking at Robin Hill Park for safety reasons.
There is parking at the Storm King Soccer Field, about 1.5 miles from the park.
Runners can take a free shuttle from the parking lot but spectators must walk the distance.
To reach the soccer field from Port Angeles, turn left on Old Olympic Highway from U.S. Highway 101, travel for 3.4 miles and turn right on Barr Road.
The soccer field is the first right.
From Sequim, turn right on Carlsborg Road from Highway 101, travel 1.7 miles to Old Olympic Highway, turn left, and go about 2.7 miles to Barr Road. Turn left; the soccer field is the first right.
Watch the Port Angeles Harbor between noon and 1 p.m.
The Jamestown Canoe Club will paddle the shore next to the marathon male and female front-runners.
The winners also will receive a victory paddle in the harbor.
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