Lacamas Lake Half Marathon fills streets with smiling faces

Camas man has participated in this event every year

A pack of Lacamas Lake Half Marathon and 5K runners head down the hill on Dallas Street toward the finish line on Fourth Avenue Sunday. Buy this photo

Jerry Kotsovos could hold the unofficial crown as “Mister Lacamas Lake Half Marathon.”

The 68-year-old from Camas has crossed the finish line at this 11-year-old event 11 times.

“Unfortunately, my times keep getting slower,” Kotsovos said. “It’s a beautiful course. The fact that I’ve run it every year, I know it so well. I know every turn.”

Kotsovos is also fascinated by the growth of the event, from 96 finishers in the first year to 589 runners this year. There were also 281 5K runners, 65 half marathon walkers, 48 5K walkers and 68 children in the Kid’s Dash.

Perhaps the new finish in downtown Camas helps accelerate the numbers. Residents and visitors lined up along Fourth Avenue Sunday to cheer for their family members, friends and fellow competitors. Organizers from FitRight Northwest announced the names of the runners and walkers as they reached the finish line. Live music and a Mill City Brew Werks beer garden added to the celebratory environment.

“I still enjoy the finish because of the festive nature of the ending,” Kotsovos said. “I had probably the worst race of my life and the people were still cheering for me.”

Zachary Dulabon, an 18-year-old from Vancouver, finished in first place in the half marathon with a time of 1 hour and 16 minutes. Vancouver’s Anna Nguyen, 40, was the top female finisher in 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Camas 12-year-old Rachel Blair won the women’s 5K in 22:46. Troutdale’s Jonathan Coleman, 17, was the top male finisher in 20:21. Full results are available at www.lacamaslakerunwalk.com.

Kotsovos has run a total of 30 marathons, at least one for every decade in his life since his 20’s. He completed his first and only Boston Marathon in 1978, with a time of 2 hours, 56 minutes, 12 seconds.

“I was 32 back then,” he said. “Jeez, that was almost half my life ago.”

Kotsovos has also been in the New York City Marathon, the San Francisco Marathon and several Portland Marathons.

“I read more and more that you are less likely to get diabetes if you exercise. I started jogging in 1975 to bring my weight down,” Kotsovos said. “The mental and physical rewards make the effort worthwhile.”

Although aches and pains, and thoughts of old age, creep up on Kotsovos, nothing stops his heart and legs from pumping.

“Out there, I’m thinking ‘30 years ago, I would have been finished by now,’” Kotsovos said. “But at least I’m still doing it. I don’t intend to quit.”