OLYMPIA – The runners in today’s Capital City Marathon aren’t the only ones who will need endurance.
Drivers’ endurance, if not patience, might also be tested.
The 26.2-mile race that winds through Olympia begins at 7 a.m.
“We just ask drivers to be patient,” Lesley Roberts, Capital City Marathon director, said. “It’s one day out of the year.”
A combined 1,600 runners are expected to compete in the three races today. Besides more than 350 runners in the marathon, another 900 will run the half marathon and 350 in the 5-mile race. Several dozen participated in the 1-mile kids run Saturday.
Marathon entries have dropped from 574 in 2000 to 341 last year, a decline of 233 runners. Marathons in Tacoma, Port Angeles and Eugene have popped up in recent years, chipping away at the Olympia marathon.
Yet Roberts has resisted the temptation to open the marathon to walkers because that would extend the time volunteers and the police have to be on the course.
“We’re not going to strain our relationship with the Olympia police,” Roberts said.
Marathon runners must maintain a pace of at least 14 minutes and 30 seconds per mile to complete the event before the course closes at 1:30 p.m. The Capital City continues to be one of the top qualifiers in the country for the Boston Marathon. In 2007, 64 runners in the Capital City qualified for the Boston Marathon.
Ages of registered marathoners range from 16 to 79. Andrew Wagner of Puyallup is the youngest runner. Bob Dolphin is the oldest.
About 30 students from Erika Dean’s physical education classes at North Thurston High School help with set-up, greet runners, do backup timing and other jobs at the finish line. They’re part of the 800 volunteers that help put at the event.
Today’s weather forecast is for sunny skies with temperatures reaching the high 70s.
“You never know what to expect with May weather,” Roberts said.
Capital City MARATHON
Today’s starting times (at Sylvester Park): marathon 7 a.m.; half marathon 7:45 a.m.; 5 miler 8 a.m.
Finish line: On Capitol Way between 7th Avenue and Legion Way, next to Sylvester Park.
Course records: marathon – men, Jesse Stevick, 2:31:50, 2007; women, Vanessa Hunter, 2:49:07, 2006. half marathon – men, Josiah Price, 1:12:02, 2008; women, Gwen Greiner, 1:18:57, 2006.
Fan viewing: The best vantage point is at Sylvester Park by the starting and finish lines.