For a quarter century, the Vancouver Lake Half Marathon has been a beacon of sorts for area runners, a reason to shake off winter rust and a chance to see just how far and how fast their legs can move them.
But not many of the races have supplied pleasant weather.
Sunday’s 25th edition of the 13.1-mile race was an exception, which made it a perfect opportunity to chase personal records.
Everyone wound up chasing Patrick Reaves. The 30-year-old Atlanta native led much of the way and finished 20 seconds in front of Johnson Lee of Vancouver, reaching the finish line in 1 hour, 10 minutes and 57 seconds.
The first woman to finish was Camelia Mayfield, a Portland State track and field athlete who was almost five minutes faster than runner-up Katarina Mueller of Vancouver.
Mayfield posted a time of 1:20:36, while Mueller came in with a time of 1:25:17.
The Vancouver Lake Half Marathon is the major annual race staged by the Clark County Running Club. Its entry fee helps fund the college scholarships the CCRC hands out to members.
Reaves, the overall champion, took a job with Nike and moved to Portland in July. He raced at the University of Maryland a decade ago, and said he is enjoying getting to know Portland-area races.
“It is an odd time of year to be racing. I really just wanted to get out and have a good hard run. But at the same time I was out front by myself, so there was a couple of spots where I kind of spaced out and lost focus,” Reaves said. “But then I had (Lee) right behind me. He wasn’t really fading, so I was still kind of running for my life.”
Defending champion Jesse McChesney of Vancouver did not run on Sunday. Race organizer Russ Zornick said McChesney had a work conflict that kept him from the race.
Lee, the first Clark County Running Club regular to finish, was happy to chase Reaves. Lee’s time of 1:11:17 was some 90 seconds faster than his previous best half marathon.
“I was trying to get under 73 (minutes). This is a lot better than I expected,” Lee said after completing his third Vancouver Lake Half Marathon.
Lee is a native of Guam who ran cross country and track at the University of Portland, said winter is his favorite season for running because he doesn’t overheat. The 28-year-old said he plans to run the Boston Marathon for the first time this year.
Lee said he prefers half marathons and 10-kilometer races because he can go faster than he can in a marathon.
Sunday’s conditions — foggy, calm with temperatures in the mid-40s — were appreciated even by runners who don’t enjoy winter as much as Lee. Mayfield, the women’s champion, said the fog presented an advantage, of sorts.
“It was kind of nice because all I saw was the person in front of me so I could really zoom in on them and chase,” she said.
Mayfield is preparing for her final outdoor college season this spring for Portland State, where she owns the school’s indoor 5,000-meter record. Her time on Sunday was a personal record for the half marathon, and it was her first win in a Portland-area race for the Ashland, Ore., native.
“I’m a little bummed I didn’t break 1:20. With the conditions today it wasn’t quite in the cards,” she said, explaining that slick conditions at several turnaround spots caused her to slow down.
Still, Mayfield was thrilled with the course and the support for the runners.
“It’s definitely exciting. I love coming out to local races,” she said. “I really liked it. The people out on the course were really motivating.”
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