A determined group of out-of-towners snatched up all the blue ribbons at last Sunday’s Columbia River Gorge Marathon and Half Marathon.
But the locals weren’t about to let the passers-through steal all their thunder.
An equally driven group of Hood River-based runners managed to sneak into the top three in both half marathon divisions, while another runner, Ali Hilden, placed fourth in the women’s marathon with an official time of 3 hours, 31 minutes, 11 seconds.
A handful of other local competitors won their age groups, and everyone who entered, finished the race, giving the hometown faithfuls plenty to cheer for.
“The organizers (Kevin Foreman’s X-Dog Events) try to make the race enticing for the local runners by having competitions for the many different age groups,” said Hilden, who has placed in the top three four times in the past six years.
“They also have unofficial results for the fastest local runner, which gives you something else to shoot for,” she said.
Hilden earned the “fastest local runner” honor in the women’s marathon. However, Parkdale resident Kathleen Welland gave her a run for her money with a fifth-place time of 3:32:17.
The best local men’s marathon finisher was Todd Hanna of Hood River, who ran a 3:21:04 for 15th place overall. Roger Roediger was the next local on the list with a time of 3:46:10, good for 30th place.
Will Hicks of Lopez, Wash., won the men’s race in 2:46:17, and although he hails from the San Juan Islands, he still has local ties to his sister, Barbara Hicks, a Hood River resident.
“I was hoping to go around three hours, so I’m pretty happy to finish in 2:46,” he said. “I haven’t been training that much, and so I didn’t even decide if I was going to run the race until late in the week. But my sister insisted that I run it, and things turned out pretty well.”
While the 200-plus hardcores ran the 26.2-mile course from The Dalles to Hood River, another group of 350-plus runners was taking to the 13-mile half-marathon course. Five locals placed in the top 10, and were led by two runners — Tom Moline and Robin Fogg — who each placed third overall.
Moline, the track distance coach at Hood River Valley High School, said he was glad he chose to run the half marathon distance, and was pleased to finish the race in 1:22:25.
“I stayed with the top two guys (Mark McManus and David Hatfield of Portland) until about the midway point,” he said. “But I just didn’t have enough to keep up with them at the end.”
Fogg placed third overall in the women’s race with a time of 1:31:15, while Parkdale resident and former HRVHS cross-country standout Heather Laurance placed sixth at 1:38:05. Alexis Vaivoda of Hood River was seventh at 1:38:17.
Blaire Carr of Hood River is officially listed as the eighth-place women’s finisher, but her husband, Dave, ran in her place and took 24th in the men’s division with a time of 1:39:01.
Other notable half-marathon finishes for the local men’s contingent were Daniel Allen (1:28:43, 7th place); Steve Becker (1:35:56, 17th place); Jon Gardner (1:37:08, 18th place); and Paul Quinlan (1:42:59, 34th place).
Additional standouts for the local women were Brad Eleanor (1:42:24, 11th place); Kristen Uhler (1:42:33, 12th place); Lisa Spoonhauer (1:51:44, 27th place); and Lisa Rust (1:54:17, 36th place).
Other top 30 women’s marathon finishes were turned in by Susan Donnan (3:54:56, 17th place); Melissa McElderry (3:55:10, 18th place); Adrienne Davies (3:55:12, 19th place); Jennifer Cook (4:00:47, 25th place); and Carol Breen (4:09:03, 31st place).
Complete results of both men’s and women’s races can be found at: www.gorgemarathon.com.