Runner chases a perfect 10

Chris Charles will go for a perfect 10 on the Fourth of July.

The 1995 BHS grad has won the Grand Old Fourth 5K run for nine years in a row, starting with his first venture as a sophomore in 1993. And most of the time he’s never been pressed. His time of 15 minutes, 17 seconds in 2000 stands as the course record.

“I pretty much PR’d (established a personal record) every year except last year,” he said. “Sometimes after the first mile I’d hear footsteps, but they’d be mine.”

Charles ran at WSU, where he established personal bests of 3:55 in the 1500, 9:04 in the 3000 meter steeplechase and 14:30 in the 5000. He was fourth in the Pac-10 steeplechase as a senior and was a member of the Cougar cross country team that advanced to NCAA Nationals the previous fall. He spent a fifth year as an assistant coach before returning to this area.

Despite working 8 to 5 for Brazilian-based Bunge Foods, which makes shake syrups, doughnut glazes, multi-grain bar fillings and the like, Charles somehow finds time to run 70-80 miles a week.

“Sometimes I’ll get up at 6 a.m. and do a 10-miler,” he said. “Or run after work.”

He competes for Club Northwest, which attracts many of the area’s elite runners.

“I’m just having fun with running,” he said. “My goal is always to be faster than last year.

“Running is a more of a lifestyle, and most of my friends are runners.”

Charles was seventh in March’s St. Patrick’s Day Dash, and on June 9 placed second in a 5K in Everett, earning $500 for his 15:17 clocking.

Three shy of 30

Ron Williamson has his own streak going.

He has run all 27 Grand Old Fourth Runs, including its earlier incarnations as a one-way race from Fort Ward to Winslow, then an out-and-back 10K.

Williamson was no slouch: in addition to sometimes winning his age group and often placing in the top three, he was quite likely the only runner in his 50s to break 40 minutes when the race was a 10K

“But I’m not running competitively any more,” insisted Williamson, now in his 60s.

The annual July 4 run, which also includes a one-mile run and kids’ dashes, benefits Bainbridge Youth Services.

The one-mile starts at 9 a.m. on Winslow Way just east of Madison. The rectangular-shaped course finishes on Madison just north of Winslow.

The 5K begins at 9:15 at the intersection of Winslow and Madison, heading west on Winslow to Grow and then down Wyatt to Finch and Sportman’s Club Road. It includes a steep climb up High School Road before a long downhill on Grow, Wyatt and Madison. Kids’ dashes – for ages 8 and under – begin at 10 a.m. at Winslow Green.

Registration is $10 for the 5K and one-mile through June 28, $14 on race day. T-shirts are an additional $7. The kids’ dashes are $4 in advance, $5 day of race.

Entry forms are available at Island Sports, BI Cycle, Town and Country, and Bainbridge Youth Services office. Information: BYS, 842-9675.

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