Unique half marathon keeps on growing

Paul Danzer: Community sports column

Published:

 

Without question, running has a solid foothold in these parts. On most weekends, multiple races are available for those who want to test their fitness or their speed. New races pop up each year. One example is a new marathon scheduled for July of 2011 that organizers hope will put Vancouver USA on the map.

But few events catch on the way the race that happened on Sunday in Vancouver has. Sure, the fact that the Girlfriends Half Marathon is only open for women makes it unique. But the vibe along the course and at the awards ceremony goes a long way toward making it special.

Sherri McMillan, owner of Northwest Personal Training, was inspired to stage a race to support women who are fighting or will fight breast cancer. That inspiration came from Joleen Skarberg, a client of McMillan’s fitness business who overcame breast cancer.

The first Girlfriends Half Marathon, in October of 2007, involved 400 runners. That first Girlfriends race was a spur-of-the moment event, organized in less than two months after McMillan found out that a few friends did not get entered into a half marathon in San Francisco.

On Sunday, more than 2,000 women toed the line. A total of 1,393 runners and 370 walkers completed the 13.1-mile course, which started and ended in downtown Vancouver and stretched east along the Columbia to Wintler Park.

The high-energy McMillan said she draws inspiration from the survivors of cancer and other challenges who use this race as a benchmark, a 13.1-mile testimony to the value of human connections and to the power of the human spirit.

In her post-race report to participants, volunteers and supporters, McMillan noted that the event raised more than $35,000 to donate to local Susan G. Komen for the Cure efforts.

Wrote McMillan, “It reminds me that if we all do a little, a whole lot of little adds up to a lot providing the funds and the research so that we can find a cure for breast cancer and one day, all cancers.”

What began as a nice little race has quickly become a firmly-established Vancouver tradition that draws entries from near and far. With participation in the thousands, there is not the space to publish complete results in the newspaper.

For the record, the top 25 finishers are listed in the Community Sports Scoreboard. For the rest, visit www.nwpersonaltraining.com

Bowling banquet

The league bowling season is just getting rolling, but it is time for the local bowling community to celebrate.

The annual awards banquet for the Clark County chapter of the United States Bowling Congress will be held on Sunday at Club Green Meadows.

In addition to recognizing high-scoring bowlers from the 2009-10 season and from CCUSBC tournaments over the past year, the banquet celebrates the latest inductee to the Clark County USBC Hall of Fame.

This Sunday, the honoree is Suzie Feinauer, who was selected for her years of service to the sport as a member of the Clark County Women’s Bowling Association and the Clark County USBC boards of directors.

Ron Walker, the Clark County USBC executive director, said that Feinauer has contributed in a variety of ways to bowling in this area, including supplying items for the organization’s raffle to benefit local veterans.

Tickets for the dinner, which is at 3 p.m., can be purchased at the CCUSBC office at 2101 E. Evergreen Blvd., Suite 103. Reservations can be made until 5 p.m. Friday by calling the organization at 360-694-6348.

There is also a tournament included in the festivities — the annual hall of fame nine-pin-no-tap event on Saturday at Bailey’s Classic Lanes. The tournament is open to all bowlers.

Softball supremacy

A Vancouver-based softball team won a national championship on Friday in Arizona.

Vancouver USA defeated the Chicago Hit Men, 20-12, to claim the USA Senior Softball national title in the men’s over-60 age division.

The game was played as part of the Senior Softball World Championships, which are taking place in the Phoenix area.

The team was made up of players from around the Northwest, and the roster was put together by Vancouver resident Al Woldrich. Woldrich was one of the sponsors of the team, and also its manager. He said he put together the team of friends he has known for years playing slowpitch.

The national championship was determined during the round-robin portion of the world championship tournament. Vancouver USA had won the Western USA title over the summer and the Chicago team was the Eastern USA champion. So their clash in Phoenix determined the national title.

Catcher Mike Hall from Seattle capped the win with a sixth-inning grand slam. Hall was one of three players who were 4 for 4 in the game, along with Rich Orrison of Seattle and L.C. Butler of Bremerton. Pitcher Charlie Moon from Salem was the game’s defensive MVP.

The Vancouver USA squad did not fare as well in the world championship, but its national title was the first for most of the guys, Woldrich reported. He will be managing a under-50 team from Vancouver at the same tournament this week.

Paul Danzer covers community sports for The Columbian. Reach him at 360-735-4521 or paul.danzer@columbian.com.