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220 run in the 32nd annual 8.8K Loop Run; see highlights in SanJuanJournal.com slideshow
John Collins made his first-ever visit to San Juan Island a memorable one.
The 37-year-old from Oak Harbor kicked into high-gear at the base of the hill below the fairgrounds and catapulted to first place Saturday in the 32nd annual Friday Harbor 8.8K Loop Run.
Collins surged past 31-year-old Travis Daniels of Denver, who up until the very end had set the pace over the 5.4-mile course.
"I was about 10 to 20 yards back for most of the run and it was a good pace for me," Collins said. "I felt pretty strong when I turned the last corner and then just worked that hill."
Collins completed the course in 30:25, 16 seconds ahead of Daniels and 32 seconds shy of the course record set by Derek DeCiccio of Costa Mesa, Calif., a year ago.
Friday Harbor's Nick Roberts, 16, was third at 33:23, while Seattle's Chelsea Pratt, 19, a collegiate cross-country runner, was the first female finisher at 36:06.
Weather conditions proved ideal for the 220 people who participated in the island's longest-running competitive showcase. That's roughly 40 more runners than a year ago thanks to a surge in the K-12 ranks.
A total of 38 runners 15 years or younger conquered the course.
Cameron Clarke, 8, credits lessons learned in Tae Kwon Do for staying focused. "The hill at the end was the hardest," he said. "Perseverance, that's the key."
The senior set made its presence known as well.
Bobby Warren, 77, crossed the finish line at 57:45, while Sam Connery, at 80 the most-senior runner of the day, finished in 1:23:28. Edna O'Connor, also 80, credits her stamina to walking 3-5 miles daily.
Loop Run veteran Teresa deGraaff broke the 1-hour mark with ease, while Brad Pillow, 60, kept a string of 28 consecutive Loop Runs alive and bested last year's mark by clocking in at 1:18:18.
"I kept my streak of not coming in last, not being trampled and the longest number of runs alive too," he said. "Nobody can catch me as long as I keep showing up."