Port Angeles Runs For God

August 30, 2016 | Gary Ledbetter

The Olympic Discovery Marathon came to Port Angeles on June 5. This event, which included 5K, 10K, half-marathon and marathon races, was attended by runners from 30 states and a number of countries, including Denmark, France and Canada. It also included the Run For God runners organized by Nicole Heisler of the Port Angeles Church.

Heisler began promoting the Run For God program about six weeks prior to the March 6 start date. The program included meeting at the church for a short devotional, which was followed by an information session about running like warm up, clothing, mental attitude and other running-related topics.

Following the session at the church, participants would go to the local high school track and begin running. Those who found running it too challenging were encouraged to walk. Starting slowly, Heisler, who recently ran the New York City Marathon, started the training program by having participants run or walk for three minutes, walk two minutes, then run again. Each training session lasted about 45–60 minutes. Week after week, the physical demands would increase until participants were running or walking for three miles — nearly 5K.

Participation by church members was quite amazing, Heisler reports. In fact, almost 60 percent of active church members signed up for the training program and purchased Run For God T-shirts. It didn't matter if church members could run or walk; everyone was encouraged.

On race day, about 35 church members and friends participated in either the 5K, 10K or half marathon, with most wearing their Run For God T-shirts. Of those, 11 Port Angeles Church members — about 32 percent — received awards for either first, second or third place in their age category. Those who received an award were Kraig Kyllo, Josh Winters, Gary Ledbetter, Cheryl Ledbetter, Cheri Byers, Ethan Heisler, Kara Heisler, Renie Thayer, Larry Thayer, Nicole Heisler and Jerry Moore. Members were especially proud of 12-year-old Ethan for running the half marathon (13.1 miles) and earning a first-place award in his age category.

Motivation for participating in the program ranged from needing more exercise to simply wishing to support a church program. One participant admitted he was dragged there kicking and screaming and saying he could hardly run at all, much less run 5K. Now he's wondering if he can run the 10K. He was told with God, all things are possible.