Mary Ellen Bradley received some pretty sound advice a little more than four decades ago.
“I used to play a lot of tennis and someone told me that I should try running to get in shape for it,” Bradley said. “It wasn’t long before tennis became secondary to running.”
The 70-year-old Bradley will be one of the record 1,100 runners participating in Saturday’s 37th annual Capital Lakefair Run. And she’s among the few, and possibly only, runner who has raced in every edition of the yearly fun run.
“I think it’s actually the very first fun run I ever ran in,” said Bradley, a resident of Olympia and retired employee of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“It was just something I always ran in. Then after about 10 years I decided it was a race I wasn’t going to miss.”
As the miles and complimentary T-shirts piled up, Bradley elected to trim back the number of the events she runs over the past couple of years.
Lakefair and the Fourth of July Run in Ashland, Ore., are the only two remaining on her list. Bradley did run in the Capital City Marathon’s half marathon in May – completing the 13.1 miles in 2 hours, 42 minutes.
“It’s just a great sport. All you need is a pair of shoes,” Bradley said. “Tennis and golf and other sports can get expensive. Plus with running you don’t need anyone else. You open your front door and go.”
Bradley will compete in the 8K race at the Lakefair Run – a distance she placed second in her age group last year.
In addition to a 3K race, the event will also feature a half marathon for the first time.
The newly added half marathon helped draw a record number of runners, said event organizer Jerry Miller.
“When we first started talking about a half marathon, we said we’d be happy with 150 people,” Miller said. “We are at 330. So this far exceeded our expectations.”
The races, which start and finish at Heritage Park, had 810 participates in 2011, up significantly from the 661 runners in 2010.
“The event just continues to grow,” Miller said. “We had a lot of interest in the half marathon.”
The start of the half marathon is at 7 a.m. with the 8K beginning at 8 a.m. and the 3K at 8:10 a.m.
IF YOU GO
half marathon is at 7 a.m.; 8K race 8 a.m.; 3K race 8:10 a.m. on Saturday.