The winning times — by Joseph Darda of Fort Worth, Texas, in 2 hours, 33 minutes and 23 seconds, and Katryna Williams of Seattle in 3:05:14 — are the slowest winning women’s marathon time and second slowest men’s time in the Seattle event’s 10-year history.
The weather was somewhat chilly, and the new course was definitely hilly for Sunday’s St. Jude Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Marathon.
“It’s my third year in a row running in this race, and I’d say this is the toughest they’ve made it,” said Jessica Lukasik, a Georgia native and a Coast Guard lieutenant stationed in Seattle who placed third in the women’s marathon. “But the first half especially was really, really pretty. It’s a nice course.”
And a challenging course for an estimated 3,000 marathoners and 12,000 half-marathon competitors. The winning times — Joseph Darda of Fort Worth, Texas, in 2 hours, 33 minutes and 23 seconds, and Katryna Williams of Seattle in 3:05:14 — are the slowest winning women’s marathon time and second slowest men’s time in the Seattle event’s 10-year history.
Yet none of the top finishers, happy with the cool (high 40s), sunny conditions, were complaining. “It was definitely a fair course,” said Lukasik, 25, a seven-time Ironman competitor.
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She, like many runners, had a vivid memory of a sharp right turn runners made shortly before mile 10, from Boyer Ave. East up a steep, double-digit grade on 19th Ave. East that led racers to a lovely forested run through Interlaken Park. Race organizers prepped runners for the climb with a sign at the base of the incline: “King of the Hills.”
“A couple of those hills with the snarky signs were amusing,” Lukasik said. “It makes it interesting.”
Darda, a 2009 Washington grad and former UW track and field and cross-country competitor who now teaches American literature at TCU, noticed even the cyclist assigned to accompany the lead runner had trouble with that hill.
“We were surprised by it,” Darda, 30, said. “He had to stop and push his bike up. It was one of those situations where it’s better to be on foot than a bicycle.
“It’s funny. I looked at the topographical map of the course before the race, and there is a sharp rise on it. I actually thought, ‘That has to be a mistake.’ I thought it was a matter of the proportions of the map. But it really is that steep.”
By the big climb, Darda was already in command of the marathon field, never to be seriously challenged. Darda ran in the inaugural Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in 2009, two weeks after he graduated at UW, and finished ninth with a time (2:33:13), just 10 seconds faster than Sunday.
“That was my graduation celebration,” he said. “Nine years later, I’m glad I can still finish a marathon.”
Bennett Grimes, 30, of Wedgwood placed second in 2:39:48. Grimes, a product manager for Brooks footwear, competed in the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials in the marathon.
“I’ve kind of retired since then,” Grimes said. “I’ve run much, much faster in my past, but today I wasn’t here trying to win. I just wanted to be out on a sunny day, running around Seattle.”
Masanori Okabe, 37, of Moses Lake finished third (2:43:02).
For Williams, a former Division-III runner at Wisconsin-Eau Claire now living in Fremont, Sunday’s marathon was her first marathon, and she won it with fairly minimal preparation.
“I spontaneously signed up seven weeks ago,” said Williams, 24, a nurse at UW Hospital. “I watched the Boston Marathon and thought, ‘Yeah, I want to run one.’ This seemed like a good race.”
Her chief aim was to qualify to run in Boston next year. But winning? “I just wanted to be in the top 10, get under 3:15,” she said. “When I was coming out of Woodland Park, a bike was with me. I thought it was because I was in the lead pack. I asked him what place. He said first, and I said, ‘Holy (blank). Oh, pardon my language, but I didn’t expect that.’ I was very surprised.”
Katelyn Gates of Edmonds, 31, placed second in 3:09.49. “She (Williams) passed me around mile 18 and she looked awesome,” Gates said. “I wasn’t ready for her. But I thought I could get second, and it turned out to be a great day.” Lukasik finished third in 3:12:55.
• Michael Eaton, who relocated to Green Lake two weeks ago from Louisville, Kentucky, broke away from his nearest competitors in the half-marathon after mile six and won in 1:07:42. He was happy to be in Seattle. “It’s probably in the 80s or 90s in Louisville right now,” said Eaton, who turned 31 Saturday. “Here I’ve never had to wear so many sweaters in June, but it’s great for running.”
Jonathan Lafler, 28, cross-country coach at Newport High, took second (1:08:16), followed by Roosevelt Cook, 38, of Hesperia, Calif., in third (1:09:57).
• Anna Farello, 23, of El Segundo, Calif., won the women’s half-marathon in 1:19:20, followed by Jen Moroz, 32, or Vancouver, B.C. (1:19:54). The two ran together until Farello pulled away on the King of the Hills. Bridget End, 26, of Boulder, Colo., took third (1:21:14).
• Perhaps the race’s most memorable mile: a stretch beyond mile four where dozens of images of fallen military personnel were displayed on easels, followed by 100+ volunteers holding large American flags.
• Shon Crewe, co-host of a monthly golf show on ESPN Seattle, completed her first half-marathon in 10 years and after undergoing a minimally invasive hysterectomy Jan. 31. “A traditional procedure would have meant four to six weeks in bed and then several months of recovery,” said Crewe, 45. “With the procedure I had, I was out and about that night. I kept putting mine off because I was worried about recovery. If you can find a way to do it, even if it means getting on a flight and going somewhere (Crewe went to Washington, D.C.), it’s so much easier on your body. And what better way to show women than to come out and run a half-marathon.”