First win for Forster comes at Girlfriends Half Marathon

Runner from Beaverton posts time of 1:29:36

By Paul Danzer, Columbian community sports reporter

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For the first half of the Girlfriends Half Marathon, Hillary McKinstry of Camas was the pace setter.

"I went out quick, which I tend to do," she said.

About six miles in, Brittney Forster joined McKinstry at the front of the race. Soon, Forster was on her way to her first victory.

Forster, from Beaverton, Ore., was the first of 1,358 runners and walkers to finish Sunday's seventh edition of the Girlfriends Half Marathon.

"It was exciting to come around that last corner and know I was going to be the first finisher," Forster said.

Her winning time was 1 hour, 29 minutes and 36 seconds. McKinstry finished seconds with a time of 1:32:17 and Ridgefield's Kristina Benedick was third in 1:33:49.

The all-women event started and ended in downtown Vancouver. The mostly flat 13.1-mile course followed the Columbia River waterfront to Wintler Park and wound through Fort Vancouver on the return to downtown.

For Forster, winning was a new experience. But racing wasn't. She is training to run her 13th full marathon. She has run many half marathons. Sunday's effort was 30 seconds off her fastest, but despite a head cold it was a fun day, she said.

"The course is wonderful. The spirit prior to the event was great, the energy level was tremendous," Forster said.

Sherri McMillan, the owner of Northwest Personal Training and event organizer, estimated that Sunday's race raised $11,000 for Kearney Breast Center, $5,000 for Children's Center and $20,000 for Susan G. Komen for the Cure. About 1,800 registered for the event and just under 1,400 finished.

McKinstry, 35, ran her first road race at age 11. In June, she was the second female finisher in her first 50-miler, completing the Rainier to Ruston race in 8 hours and 50 minutes. She noted that she has been second in the Girlfriends Half Marathon several times and that 1:32 is a typical half-marathon time for her.

Benedick, 33, has participated in races for about eight years, but only two half marathons. She finished 14th in the 2012 Girlfriends race, and ran it about two minutes faster this time. She said she enjoyed the flat course, the weather and the energy surrounding the event.

"It's a lot of fun with all of the girls out there cheering for each other," Benedick said.