Runners and walkers will be flooding downtown Poulsbo Saturday as the city hosts its annual Half Marathon and 10k.
The race is put on by for-profit company Orca Running, which produces running events all over Western Washington and encourages people of all paces and abilities to participate. The Poulsbo race started in 2016 but it hasn’t been held since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“That first year it was kind of short notice so we put on a simplified version,” said Porter Bratten, part-owner of Orca Running. “We had a decent turnout. We’ve put it on ever since. It’s kind of grown steadily. We did get rid of the marathon distance because marathons are pretty taxing to put on.”
This year will be Poulsbo’s biggest turnout yet, as Bratten said nearly 800 people had signed up as of Oct. 8. Of the participants, 465 will be doing the half marathon while 322 will be doing the 10k. Bratten said people come from all over Western Washington. “I think a lot of people know about Poulsbo and view it as a fun place to go for the weekend,” he said.
The course starts and finishes at Liberty Bay Waterfront Park and goes through parts of downtown. 10k participants will start at 8 a.m. and will go in three or four waves. The half marathon will start at 8:20 a.m. and will start in five to six waves. Waves in both events will be of about 75 people, with two minutes between each one.
Bratten said the event welcomes participants of all speeds and paces, including those who would rather walk. He said most people doing the half marathon put in some training beforehand while the 10k has more casual participants. “We don’t take anything down until the last person is done so they don’t feel like they’re excluded in any way,” he said.
Each race that Orca Running puts on has one or more charity partners that have a local connection. In Poulsbo’s case, the money will be going toward Girls on the Run Westsound, a nonprofit that does education and running programs for elementary school girls. At the end of the program, the girls train for a 5k. Bratten said the nonprofit encourages confidence, exercise and health.
Awards will be given out to the top three finishers of each race, both male and female. Also, each participant will receive a t-shirt, and a medal and food will be available after the race. The event is a cupless race so participants will need to bring something to carry water in, such as a container.
“We’re trying to cut down on our waste, and we’re planning on having all our races to be carbon neutral starting next year,” Bratten said.