Every runner has a story

OLYMPIA – Two years ago, Tom Alongi, the tennis coach at Capital High School, was racing back and forth between matches at a district tournament.

Hungry, he caught a quick snack.

“I ate two doughnuts and a chocolate milk,” Alongi said. “I was disgusted with myself.”

So, he began walking and watching what he ate, cutting out sugar. Eventually, walking turned to running. On Sunday, Alongi, who shed 55 pounds in two years, ran the half-marathon in 1 hour, 47 minutes, 26 seconds.

“It was an accomplishment to finish,” he said.

Flag waver

Jim Davidson, at age 76, wasn’t the fastest runner in the half-marathon. But he was the most colorful.

He wore a red-and-blue tie-dyed T-shirt, a cap and shorts with U.S. flags on them, one red sock and one blue sock.

Davidson, a retired dentist who served in the Air Force, ran his first marathon at age 57 in 1990 and has run 125 of them. But he hasn’t run a full marathon since he was 72 and now sticks to half-marathons.

“I got started running just to see if I could do a marathon,” said Davidson, a Lakewood resident. “I was always involved in sports, so I tried running.”

Davidson finished in 2:54:27.

Running crazy

Two years ago Marilou Russell ran her first marathon, just to say she had done one.

On Sunday, Russell, 47 and an Olympia resident, ran her 43rd marathon and finished in 4:13:59.

“I was only going to do one,” Russell said. “I couldn’t stop. I just love it.”

She’s not kidding. Two weeks ago, Russell ran the Tacoma City Marathon. She has run two marathons in two days before, gaining membership in the Marathon Maniac Club. Russell wore her yellow club shirt during Sunday’s race.

“People wearing these shirts are your instant friends,” Russell said.

Russell doesn’t stop at running 26.2 miles. She’s run a 50-miler, an 80-miler and six 32-milers.

Eat and run

Bonnie McReynolds found out that the two things she likes in life are compatible.

“I like to eat,” McReynolds said. “And I like to run.”

With running as her calorie shaver, McReynolds ran her 16th marathon Sunday, her second Capital City. She was the first women’s finisher in 1992.

McReynolds, 47, finished first in her age division with a time of 3:09:34.

Runner renewed

While running Sunday’s half-marathon, Mariel Ettinger bumped into an old friend – herself.

Ettinger ran in the Pacific-10 Conference championships while a student at Stanford. But after graduating seven years ago, she quit running.

“I used to be a runner a long time ago. But then I got a job,” said Ettinger, 28, from Bend, Ore.

With the prodding of her family, Ettinger got back into running two years ago.

On Sunday, she won the women’s half-marathon, placing fifth overall in 1:18:55.

“It feels good to be running again,” Ettinger said. “I run at 4 in the morning. A lot of it is on the treadmill in the gym.”

Ettinger’s mother, Amelia, also ran the half-marathon, finishing in 2:09:25.

Bonus babies

Caroline Austin and Katie Johnson of Chehalis High School were awarded the $1,000 Capital City college scholarships.

Gail Wood: 360-754-5443