COEUR d’ALENE — If the Coeur d’Alene Marathon has indeed became a destination race, with over half of its competitors coming from outside the state of Idaho, it became more obvious as the finishers came in on Sunday morning at McEuen Park.
Especially in the men’s marathon, where Google wound up landing the 2017 champion in Coeur d’Alene.
Brent Shirley, a former sports writer from Shreveport, La., won the men’s race in 2 hours, 54 minutes and 14.6 seconds.
“I’m trying to do a marathon in every state,” Shirley said. “And this was my Idaho race.”
After consulting Google and a list of events, he opted on Coeur d’Alene having never been to the area before this weekend.
“The sites were incredible,” Shirley said. “Just driving around yesterday, I knew it was going to be a pretty race as far as the scenery went. The lake is beautiful and there was a lot of encouragement from all the runners out on the course.”
Coeur d’Alene native Danielle Parks didn’t need much of a warmup for her race either.
She got plenty of that after winning last week’s Windermere Marathon along the Spokane River in Spokane.
“They’re starting to do this border challenge, and do both the Washington and Idaho marathons,” Parks said. “My goal today was just to finish it, because I’d never done that before. But I just had to pace myself and get through it.”
Parks won the women’s race in 3:20:15.3, a little over her pace of 3:13.13.5 at the Windermere event.
The event started and ended in front of the Avista Pavilion in McEuen Park, the marathon and half-marathon courses winding through downtown Coeur d’Alene, before heading east on the Centennial Trail to the turnaround near Higgens Point.
The marathon consisted of two loops, the half-marathon one.
“Sometimes when you do an out-and-back twice, it’s frustrating when you’ve got to go back to the starting line and circle around,” Shirley said. “But it seemed like everyone was so happy and joyful and giving some words of encouragement, so that made up for it. This is a cool little race. They had everything really well marked and had great volunteers. Sometimes, when you’ve got a road that’s still open to traffic, it gets a little scary. But there was no issue whatsoever.”
Shirley’s start to the day, well, that’s a different story.
“I felt really bad at the start of the race,” Shirley said. “It was a little rough and I was kind of fighting through when I didn’t feel good. I just had to keep my head down. The second time we went out, I was four minutes behind the leader (2016 champion Nathan Birdsall of Coeur d’Alene). I thought I could make it up, and I was finally able to catch him at the 24-mile mark. Having someone to chase made me feel a little better and concentrate on my race.”
Sunday’s race marked the 31st state in which Shirley has run a marathon. Montana is next on his list.
Birdsall finished 12th.
Coeur d’Alene High product Karson Peach won the 5K race in 16:32.7. Kristin Sauter of Seattle won the women’s 5K in 20:13.8.
Brian Vandenburg of Spokane won the half-marathon in 1:22:54.6. Nicolle Baune of Coeur d’Alene was the women’s half-marathon winner in 1:28:13.3.
Temperatures began to climb after the 6:30 a.m. start, but Parks said the weather wasn’t much of a factor.
“As long as you’re drinking water at every station, you’re OK,” Parks said. “But you’ve got to be diligent, because it’s hot out and we’re not used to it.”
Both Shirley and Parks qualified for the 2018 Boston Marathon with their showing in Coeur d’Alene. To qualify for Boston, the race must be ran on or before Saturday, Sept. 17. Race entrants are accepted based on qualifying time, with the fastest qualifiers — in relation to age and gender — being accepted first until the race is full.
“I’ve been to Boston, so the bigger deal to me was being the first female,” Parks said. “It was a good race today.”
Around 1,400 participated in the various races.
Full results can be found at www.nomadzracing.com.