OLYMPIA – As a kid, Jesse Stevick used to sit in his front yard and watch the Capital City Marathon runners pass by, cheering as they ran.
On Sunday, Stevick, a 29-year science teacher from Olympia, was the one getting the cheers.
Leading from start to finish, Stevick won the marathon in 2 hours, 33 minutes and 12 seconds, finishing nearly 18 minutes ahead of second on a rainy, overcast morning.
It was Stevick’s fifth win in six years in the Capital City Marathon, tying him with Phil Jasperson for the most wins in the race.
“Records are meant to be broken,” said Jasperson, who finished second in the half marathon. “I’m happy for him. I’m sure that he’ll put it out of reach and win some more.”
Jasperson, 44, won the race in 1990, 1994, 1999, 2001 and 2003.
But Stevick called himself the winner with an asterisk.
“Phil is a better marathoner than me. I know that,” Stevick said. “It’s a matter of who shows up for the race. But it’s fun having people know my name.”
Stevick separated from a field of over 400 runners quickly. He led by more than one-half mile four miles into the race and kept a 5:51-per-mile pace.
“I felt pretty good through 16 miles,” Stevick said. “Then I started to struggle.”
He got a boost at Mile 18 when training mates Josiah Price and Andy Prentice jumped into the race to pace Stevick.
To prepare for the marathon, Stevick squeezed in about 70 miles a week in training, running 21/2 miles to and from his home to Olympia High School for work. He’d often get up at 4:30 in the morning to get in longer runs. Stevick’s wife Jenny had the couple’s second child five weeks ago.
“That made it a little harder getting my runs in,” Stevick said. “I wanted to run a sub 2:30, but I didn’t get it. But with my training, I’m happy with my time.”
Sabine Pullins, who lives at Joint Base Lewis-McCord, was the first women’s finisher, finishing in 3:14:10.
Alex Bunn, 39 and from Olympia, was second in the marathon in 2:50:45. Lonnie Hetzler, 37 and from Lacey, was third in 2:59:19, a 6:50-per-mile pace. Gary Cooper, who won the race in 1996 and is 50, placed sixth in 3:01:15.
In the half marathon, Nicholas Harvey overcame his inexperience in the race and won in 1:15:57, keeping a 5:48 pace in his first such race. Jasperson ignored his age and placed second in 1:19:59. Bob Brennand of Olympia was third in 1:21:32.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” Harvey said. “I heard a couple of guys say they were going out at a 5:50 mile pace. I just went with them.”
Harvey pulled away early and kept his pace. After running distance events in track at Saint Martin’s University this spring, Harvey said he ran maybe 15 miles since graduating two weeks ago.
“My time surprised me,” said Harvey, a River Ridge High graduate and the first from his school to qualify for state in cross country. “I really didn’t expect to finish first.”
In the 5-mile run, seven of the top finishers were from Olympia. Martin Ranney of Olympia won in 26:20, a 5:36 pace.
Ariel Wilhite, who is 12 years old and from Olympia, was the first female finisher. She led the entire race and finished in 33:37, a 7:09 mile pace.
“It felt great,” Wilhite said. “It was fun.”
Gail Wood: 360-754-5443 email@example.com