Bremerton Marathon returns after 8-year absence

About 150 runners took the scenic route around the Dyes Inlet May 11, pushing themselves to finish the first running of the Bremerton Marathon and Half Marathon in eight years.

Just under 40 marathoners laced up their shoes for a 7 a.m. start in Bremerton’s Evergreen Rotary Park. Joining them two hours later on the west side of the inlet was a crowd of over 100 half marathoners, who began their race on the roadway entrance to Klahowya Secondary School and Newberry Hill Heritage Park.

A growing crowd of friends, family and volunteers cheered on the runners of both races as one after another crossed a chalked finish line back in Evergreen and received their medals.

It was just the third running of the marathon since the event’s inaugural year in 2015.

“The original reason we had wanted to do it was because there’s not a lot of events here in Kitsap for running,” said the race’s organizer Crystal Whittier. “We usually have to go over to Seattle for something like this, and I wanted to offer a lower-cost race here.”

Connor O’Hara had the top time for the men in 3 hours, 6 minutes and 18.7 seconds, over 15 minutes ahead of the second place Nathanael Bate. Rachel Craig won for the women in 3:59.31.9, about 23 minutes in front of Katie Price. Mickey Cotter won the half-marathon in 1:29.31.9, about 49 seconds ahead of Nigel Neaves. Megan Morris finished about 21 minutes ahead of Joleen Pereira in the half marathon for women.

Whittier had maintained high hopes upon her and her husband’s move to Japan in 2016 that the race they had created would grow under new leadership. She returned in 2019 to find the event all but abandoned and shortly after found herself in the midst of a pandemic that made the race’s immediate revival impossible.

But if the outlandish will to run 13.1 or 26.2 miles does not already suggest it, runners are a stubborn bunch and enough time away from the challenging course surrounding the Dyes Inlet had been lost. “When I saw some other local events dropping, I just was like we’ve got to pick this back up,” Whittier said.

Initial registrations stood at just 32 after February. Whittier issued an SOS type of cry to runners in Kitsap, fearing the event would need to be canceled. Within a week, those fears disappeared. “People responded, and they wanted to support this race. The half marathon really grew after that too, and a lot of them are still local.”

Marthoner Steve Tout said: “I didn’t know this one was happening until a couple of weeks ago. I had to do this one, Bremerton being my hometown. No way am I here to win, but I’m here to just improve and enjoy the course.”

Nick Thomas was a participant in the inaugural marathon and jumped at the chance to run in its return. “When I saw they were coming back, I knew I had to do this. I’m not ready for it, but I just needed to.”

Both races were tough. Crossing the Manette Bridge, marathoners journeyed north through parts of Illahee, Gilberton and Brownsville before meeting their halfway point in Silverdale. Their journey back was along the west side of the inlet, meeting up with half marathoners on Chico Way as both races moved back toward the park. Of course, the race would not be complete without a run up one and down the other of the Warren Avenue bridge.

Course maps show that half marathoners gained 845 feet in elevation. Marathoners would climb well over double that amount at 1,990 feet gained.

Top male marathon times

Connor O’Hara, 32, 3:06:17.8; Nathanael Bate, 34, 3:21:34.7; Michael Fyrqvist, 35, 3:43:42.7

Top female marathon times

Rachel Craig, 38, 3:59:31.9, Katie Price, 27, 4:22:27.3; Erin Shea, 44, 4:30:50.3

Top male half marathon times

Mickey Cotter, 43, 1:29:03.1; Nigel Neaves, 36, 1:29:52.6; Daniel Larios, 22, 1:31:41.6

Top female half marathon times

Megan Morris, 34, 1:36:23.4; Joleen Pereira, 51, 1:57:18.6; Amanda Hoskins, 50, 2:02:09.4

Connor O’Hara wins the 2024 Bremerton Marathon.

Connor O’Hara wins the 2024 Bremerton Marathon.

Daniel Lybeck drinks some water before continuing his run on the marathon course.

Daniel Lybeck drinks some water before continuing his run on the marathon course.

Megan Morris shares congratulations with fellow racers after completing her half marathon first among the female racers.

Megan Morris shares congratulations with fellow racers after completing her half marathon first among the female racers.