Girlfriends run downtown for a day

Half marathon raises funds to fight breast cancer, draws 2,600




An estimated 2,600 women took to the streets of Vancouver on Sunday morning and organizers said they raised $50,000 in the Girlfriends Half Marathon, a fundraiser for Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Then there was Robby Halterman, resplendent in the color of the day, a member of the Pink Brigade of 25 men who raised $25,000 for the Kearney Breast Center at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center.

Each team member was responsible for raising about $1,000.

Halterman told friends and family he would wear an outfit of their choosing if they would get him to the goal. They chipped in $1,500 and picked the outfit.

Pink tutu, pink running skirt, pink fishnet stockings, pink sports bra and pink head band. Oh, yes, pink eyelashes.

“I got tons of comments,” Halterman, a diesel engine salesman, said. “I had people telling me I looked hot.”

Halterman, 43, is a friend of Sherri McMillan’s, whose company, Northwest Personal Training, put on the sixth annual event.

“I actually got some funny looks from little kids,” Halterman said. “It was awesome. … It was very satisfying to see some of the (breast cancer) survivors out there.”

Halterman has trained with Joleen Skarberg of east Vancouver, whose fight with breast cancer was the reason McMillan started the event six years ago.

“It is emotional,” Skarberg, 60, said of Sunday’s race. “The very first race was beyond emotional.”

She was just one month out of radiation treatment for breast cancer when she competed in the first Girlfriends event.

“Every year it’s a little bit different experience,” Skarberg said. “Everyone is out there for a cause, for someone they love.”

The crowd knows her, as she always wears No. 1 in the race.

“You get the high-fives and ‘go Joleen’ … Every other run they (runners) have done is a disappointment after they run this run.

“It’s a good thing for our community,” Skarberg added.

Clark College President Bob Knight was a member of the Pink Brigade that raised $25,000. His pink T-shirt carried the name of his sister-in-law, Wendy Knight of Melbourne, Fla., who died of cancer in May at 46.

“Wendy’s spirit was with me, and 3,000 girlfriends were cheering me on,” Knight said of the 13.1-mile race.

The race took runners to Wintler Park on the Columbia River and back to downtown via the Vancouver Land Bridge and Officers Row.

Event sponsor McMillan said that when she heard the weather report that “‘It’s going to be a soaker,’ I’m like, ‘No!'”

But the rains held off and McMillan said it was a perfect day for runners and walkers.

By the way, the race was won by Susan Loken, 49, of Phoenix, Ariz., with a time of 1:22.

McMillan also noted that the run raised $3,000 for The Children’s Center of Vancouver, and that there was a kids race this year.

She said runners in the “very girly event” were treated to perks including a necklace (put on each woman by Vancouver firefighters), chocolate, tea, cookies, massages and hot soup.

The event will return in 2013, McMillan said, because, “Having all those ladies together, it’s a really awesome event.”