Archive of 2006 North Olympic Discovery Marathon
Sequim-Port Angeles
June 11, 2006


This forth annual marathon was probably the best run yet. The local hams have participated each year since its inception.  From the winners circle, this years race was a real upset because the overall winner, from Renton, had never run a marathon before.  He beat out the favorites by a good margin who were from out of state.  The weather was a little warm and slowed the pace slightly.  Approximately 850 participated with official results at:

We had a total of 7 amateur radio operators offering our communications services over the 26.2 mile course.  They were:

Dan, N7DWA
Nita, KE7DRT
Russ, K7INA
John, K7NIA
Marsha, KA7CSZ
Neil, WA7NBF

We did the usual 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 mile positions and Finish. I think all had a good time.

Special Challenges

Using low power handhelds offers challenges that we still could improve upon.  We use the Stripped Peak repeater for course coverage which is not centrally located and makes it a stretch.  From the past we've learned and are now using a backpackers antenna at milepost 20 and a "J" pole up 10 feet at the finish. We still could improve MP 5 and will work on it for next year.  A simple home made portable antenna should do the trick.


Besides reporting lead runner positions from each milepost to the announcer, we had a more serious medical condition this year to handle.

Dan, N7DWA had a runner near the 20 mile mark that was having severe leg pains and was literally rolling around on the ground.  He called the situation in to the finish line (by ham radio, of course) and Nita, KE7DRT was off to get the medical team and staff involved.  Ultimately, the victim was transported by medical personnel to OMC. The location was a fairly remote spot near the Bagley Creek trail crossing.  Dan had to pick up his gear and move maybe 1/4 mile to be close to the victim.  A lot can be said for having a portable setup where you can do this.  We learned at the party that the victim had severe leg cramps but was OK.  Amateur radio did its job well and it earned a few points with the racing staff.

The newlyweds

Carol and Todd reaching  finishMany of you know Carol Stevenson who is the race director for most of the 10K runs in our area.  She's the one who gave us an award and recognition for ham radio support of those events.

She and Todd Clayton were married the morning of the marathon at Robin-hill Park and then proceeded to do the half marathon together.  They met at last years race.  The photo, from Peninsula Daily News, is of them crossing the finish line and being bombarded by spectators throwing rice!  They were given racing bib numbers 1 and 2 as special recognition.

Pre-finish spotting

Technology is coming to the racing world ever so quickly.  The racers have been timed by the use of RFID technology for three years now.  This involves the use of a microchip that each carrys and is interrogated by the start and finish clocking system as they pass over the lines.  In past years, the announcer  needed a spotter about 1/8th mile previous to the finish line to inform them of an approaching bib number so their name/hometown could be looked up in a data base and be available as the racer crossed the finish line.

This was the first year that an automated spotting system was used greatly easing the work of the announcing booth.  As the racer approaches the finish line, their full name and home location is displayed on the screen of a laptop.  It probably won't be long before a big screen display will be available for the spectators as well? I even expect that a voice sythesiser may be tried in time...... that may be getting a little too impersonable for NODM which has been noted to be so participant friendly!

I originally suggested that an amateur packet radio system could be used but we never had enough interest in the ham community to put this together.  The microchip system is expensive  and many organizations don't have the funds so the need is still there for smaller less established events.

Neil Robin, WA7NBF
Revised: June 13, 2006