Answers to important questions nobody has asked me yet:
Q: Did somebody really run the May 1 Tacoma City Marathon while carrying a fully loaded rucksack?
The first runner over the Tacoma Narrows during the May 1 Tacoma City Marathon was carrying a pack loaded with 48.5 pounds of gear.
It was the first marathon for 24-year-old Martin Park, and he was running for more than himself. He was raising money to help find solutions for soldiers affected by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
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Park works for Columbia Bank and is a former active duty Marine. Now a reservist, he travels regularly to California to serve with his unit.
Park hatched the idea for the run late last year when he heard about Marines at Camp Pendleton running 22 kilometers while carrying 22 pounds of gear to raise awareness for the estimated 22 veterans who commit suicide each day.
His schedule didn’t allow him to participate. He was also unable to participate in Gig Harbor’s annual Race for a Solider, which raises money to help soldiers with PTSD and traumatic brain injuries.
He could, however, enter the Tacoma City Marathon. “I decided to up the ante,” Park said.
Instead of 22 kilometers (13.7 miles) he’d run 26.2 miles. And instead of 22 pounds, he’d carry 22 kilograms (48.5 pounds).
Park loaded his Marine corps-issue pack with uniforms, boots, shotgun shells and a pair of 5-pound plates. He started the race at 6 a.m., an hour earlier than the primary wave. Early starts were permitted for those uncertain if they could finish within the race’s 6-hour time limit.
He was ahead of the pack when he crossed the bridge, averaging 10 minutes, 41 seconds per mile in the early going. By mile 11, the leaders from the 7 a.m. wave started passing him and asking what he was doing.
“The outpouring of support was incredible from friends, co-workers and strangers alike,” Park said. “... I just wanted to create some visibility for a very real national problem but also one that certainly affects us here in the South Sound.”
By mile 24, Park was tired, gutting out the finishing stretch. A friend handed him a bottle of water as he made his way down Dock Street. He finished in 5:06:04, good enough for 338th out of the 455 finishers.
He raised $3,300 for Permission To Start Dreaming, the Gig Harbor foundation that stages Race for a Soldier. He says he’s concluded his fundraising and is directing those who still wish to contribute to raceforasoldier.org. “Or better yet, enter the race,” Park said. This year’s Race for a Soldier is Sept. 25.
Q: Will the Crown of the Sound half marathon challenge standings be affected by the course error at the Tacoma City Half Marathon?
Breaking with the theme of this column for a minute, let’s answer a question I have been asked.
On May 1, a mistake toward the start of the Tacoma City Half Marathon meant racers ran about 13.6 miles instead of 13.1.
Most runners just shrugged off the difference. Others wondered if the error would impact the Crown of the Sound half marathon challenge standings.
Here’s how the Crown of the Sound works. Enter any three of the Tacoma City Marathon Association’s four half marathons: St. Paddy’s Day, Tacoma City, Tacoma Narrows (Aug. 27) or Santa Runs Tacoma (Dec.12). Finish three and you win a special medal. No additional fee is required to enter the series.
More than 200 people completed the challenge last year.
Ribbons are awarded to the winner of each age group. So will those who picked Tacoma City and ran a half mile too long be penalized?
No, says Tony Phillippi, TCMA co-founder. The standings are determined by placing not by time, Phillippi said.
Phillippi and co-race director Paul Morrison said they identified the error and will take steps to make sure it doesn’t happen in future races.
Q: What’s the next step in Gig Harbor’s effort to extend the Cushman Trail?
The ends of Gig Harbor’s Cushman Trail couldn’t be much different. The southern encourages further exploration. Less than 3/4-mile of riding on the shoulders 14th Avenue and 24th Street and you’re connected to the Scott Pierson Trail and riding over the Tacoma Narrows.
But the northern end just ends at a trailhead restroom and parking lot. The busyness of Borgen Boulevard encourages visitors to turn around. But not for long.
The city of Gig Harbor recently applied for a $200,000 grant from the Pierce County Regional Council. The money would be used to plan extending the trail toward Purdy. The city has an additional $70,000 in matching funds for the study, should it receive the grant, said Katrina Knutson, Gig Harbor’s park project administrator.
Knutson says determining the best location for the next stretch of trail will require significant problem solving. What’s the best way to cross state Route 16? And how will they navigate hilly terrain with a trail built at a reasonable grade?
The grant application includes several letters of support from agencies including PenMet Parks, the state Department of Transportation, and Pierce and Kitsap counties.
The Cushman Trail currently stretches 6.2 miles.