Poulsbo Marathon draws unexpected numbers

Michelle Woodward stands on Fjord Drive in Poulsbo. The stretch of road is part of the Poulsbo Marathon. - Brad Camp/For the Herald
Michelle Woodward stands on Fjord Drive in Poulsbo. The stretch of road is part of the Poulsbo Marathon.
— image credit: Brad Camp/For the Herald

POULSBO — When Michelle Woodward began planning for the Poulsbo Marathon last year, there were doubts about how much attention the event would draw.

Those doubts were put to rest this week after the marathon committee reached its goal of 200 runners for the first Poulsbo Marathon.

The marathon will start at 7:30 a.m. on Oct. 17. Both a full and half-marathon will be available in open-routes. The marathon is 26.2 miles, with the half being 13.1 miles.

“I have lived out here for two years and just couldn’t believe this area did not host its own marathon,” said Woodward, the event coordinator.

The half-marathon costs $60 and the marathon costs $80 the day of the race.

Both marathons begin on Hostmark Street — next to North Kitsap High School — loop through Lemolo and then back to the North Kitsap High Stadium, which is where the half-marathon ends. The full-marathon continues on and does a loop out to Suquamish and then back to the stadium once again.

“I’ve run all the routes and can say the marathon will be pretty challenging,” Woodward said. “The half-marathon is pretty forgiving, but if you’re a beginner and you’re doing the full thing, I salute you.”

About 175 people have signed up for the half-marathon and about 25 for the full.

More than 20 people volunteered at an Oct. 12 meeting to help at aid and drink stations and Washington State Patrol will be on site to safely guide get the runners through heavy-traffic areas.

The idea for the marathon first came when Woodward was sidelined with a hip injury. She channeled her efforts to the first steps for organizing the event, she said.

“I was just limping around and since I couldn’t run. I decided to figure out ways I could get other people to run,” Woodward said.

The money raised from the marathon will be donated to the North Kitsap Trails Association.

The NKTA is planning to connect the String of Pearl trails that spread throughout the North Kitsap area, said Trails Association President John Willett.

Some of the trails include urban trails throughout Poulsbo, which marathon co-coordinator Erin Webb would like to see expanded.

“I would like to see more trails in the Poulsbo area connect so everyone has a way to travel safely without a vehicle,” Webb said.

Though connecting all the trails together will take years to complete, donations help quicken the pace of work, Willett said.

“We’re sitting on a gold mine in this area,” Willett said. “There are so many opportunities for trail development, we just need the funds to do it.”

It will remain uncertain how much money the race will bring in until the day of the race. Willett expects the money will provide enough to develop parking lots at a few trailhead entrances, including Miller Bay trails. Any extra money will be used to start graveling trails, he said.

Six aid stations have been set up along the route and prize packages will be provided by Poulsbo Running for the top three overall male and female winners for both races. T-shirts will also be provided to those who pre-registered for the race. Woodward wants to have T-shirts available for everyone.

“Everyone was telling me, ‘Oh, you’re not going to get that many people for the first marathon,’” Woodward said. “But I am going back to the print shop for a third time to ask them if they can make even more T-shirts.”

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