December 23, 2006
Race Report by Bob Dolphin
On Thursday night, December 14, 2006, a major storm brought a lot of wind and rain to Western Washington and left disastrous consequences. Thirteen fatalities were caused by falling trees, carbon monoxide poisoning, house fire and drowning, and power outages lasted from one to nine days throughout the area. The next day Lenore and I avoided the inconveniences of a cold and dark house by traveling 65 miles north to son Jeff Stensland's home in Mt. Vernon where his house had light and heat.
On Saturday Lenore contacted race director Bob Green about the status of the Christmas Marathon that was scheduled for Sunday, December 17th. As soon as he received word from the rangers at Millersylvania State Park that fallen trees and power lines necessitated the closure of the park and that parts of the course were unsafe for runners, he informed her that the marathon had to be re-scheduled for Sunday, December 23rd.
Bob promptly had Denny Brooks of www.ontherunevents.com modify the race announcements to read "Christmas Marathon Postponed. New Date December 23rd (in red ink)." On this same website under /xmarathon/raceinfo.htm it stated, "Due to the recent wind storm, the Park has been closed. Some of the course is also closed due to downed trees and power lines."
On the home page of the Marathon Maniacs site, Tony Phillippi advised: "DUE TO SEVERE NW WIND STORM CHRISTMAS MARATHON HAS BEEN POSTPONED UNTIL DECEMBER 23rd." This notified 24+ Maniacs and other site visitors who had planned to run the Christmas Marathon that the date had been changed. Bob Green is to be commended for the way he handled this emergency situation.
On December 23rd as I was dressing at our Renton home, the lights went out again, and I left home hoping that nothing would cause another delay for the 2006 Christmas Marathon. When I reached Millersylvania State Park, the weather was ideal. During the day the temperature ranged from 35-48 degrees. The sky was overcast and calm in the forest with a light wind in the fields.
There were six of us "early starters" who left the Park at 9:30 a.m. When we headed south on Tilley Road South (State Highway 121), there were downed Douglas Firs in wooded areas with slanted, new stumps left by road crews that used chainsaws to clear the highway from the December 14th storm. Fir branches littered the shoulders in many places, and in one area there was police tape to warn passersby of a downed power line in the underbrush.
November had been the wettest month ever in the state of Washington with 15+ inches of rain. Standing water was in the fields while full creeks were overflowing their banks and flooding streamside woods.
Most of the time I ran alone enjoying the forest and fields. An Eastern Cottontail was the only wild animal observed, but there were many birds. Ravens, Crows and Starlings were feeding in fields of new grass, and Spotted Towhees and Song Sparrows were in brushy areas. By farmhouses I saw blue California Jays, Robins and a small Ruby-crowned Kinglet, the first that I had seen this winter.
It was a pleasure to exchange greetings and brief commentary with the marathoners who passed me and with the helpful volunteers at the aid stations. Many know my name, and I reply in kind when I can. There were some Marathon Maniacs on hand, and we recognized each other by our MM clothing as we ran on the out-and-back course.
Nearing the half marathon turn-back, race leader Chuck Engle, 35, a MM from Columbus, OH, passed me. I admired his fast pace and efficient running form as he ran out of sight, only to return a few minutes later going in the opposite direction. He was on a yearlong quest to run 52 marathons in 2006, and after the Christmas Marathon he had one more to run, the Run for the Ranch Marathon at Springfield, MO, on December 31st.
Chuck, known as "Marathon Junkie," would complete his 100th marathon at that time and become eligible to join the 100 Marathon Club North America. He has a phenomenal record of winning 26 marathons in 2006 and completing all of his marathons with sub-three hour times. He is to be congratulated for his extraordinary running performances.
At the Christmas Marathon Chuck ran alone to win the race in 2:52:42. In second place was Daniel Kearns, 47, of Portland, OR, with a 2:59:50. Tony Phillippi, a Marathon Maniac founder from Lakewood, finished third in a time of 3:17:42.
The women's winner was Sandy Semoski, 41, of Vancouver, WA, who ran a 2:46:26. Second place went to Stephanie Day, 42, of Tracyton, WA, with a 3:53:05, and Lisa Dodobara, 25, of Seattle finished third with a 3:59:48.
I feel like I'm transitioning from "marathon runner" to "marathon walker". I ran the first half and then walked the second half at a 16 minute pace, so it was a long day. I crossed the finish line in 6:11:16 in 29th and last place. However, I was given a first place award in the 70+ Male Division (the only one in the group!) and I set a Personal Record of completing 24 marathons in one calendar year. For 2006 I finished in first place in my age division fourteen times, in second five times, in third two times and in fourth place two times. I appreciate having results posted by five year increments for all age groups, and my thanks go to the race directors who have a 75-79M age division.
Thanks go to Bob Green, his wife Kristina and the volunteers who put on a great marathon. The hot chili and other food, the finishers medal, the age class award and other amenities that were provided in the heated picnic shelter at the finish area were much appreciated at the end of the race.
Written by Bob Dolphin
Edited, Typed and Distributed by Lenore Dolphin