Normally at this time of year, racing season for professionals, amateurs and beginners alike would be in full swing. The spring and summer months in the Pacific Northwest offer a huge variety of road races for all ages and skill levels with as many as a dozen or more on any given weekend.
If you’re a regular runner, you’ve likely gotten email after email announcing that a race you had signed up for months ago was going virtual. This means, instead of perhaps getting to run a unique course — such as those that involve the closing of roads — you’ll be going for your PR on a route close to home.
For those running short distances, finding an appropriate — hopefully flat — route is typically not an issue. But those signed up for virtual 10Ks, half marathons and marathons may have a more difficult time finding a way to get those miles in.
Fortunately, Kitsap does have some good spots for long distance running.
Poulsbo/Silverdale, Viking Way/Silverdale Way
There’s plenty of room to run for long distances on this thoroughfare that spans from Poulsbo to Silverdale. If you take a route from Poulsbo’s downtown waterfront, to Waterfront Park in Old Town Silverdale, it’s about nine miles on the dot. That doesn’t make this an easy run, however.
Leaving from the Poulsbo Marina, you cruise downhill toward Fish Park and Viking Way. After making the left at the traffic light, it’s lots of rolling hills until about the four-mile mark when it’s time to tackle the big hill that takes you up to Ridgetop Boulevard in Silverdale. The long incline goes on for more than a mile and would certainly test any runner’s resolve.
However, once you reach the top, it’s a beautiful long decline into downtown Silverdale that gives you great views of the Olympic Mountains on a clear day. If you’re in need of extra distance, you can take a detour into Gateway Park, which will take you along part of the Clear Creek Trail and drop you off back out onto Silverdale Way just before the Route 303 overpass.
The terrain stays generally flat as you move onto the improved roads of downtown Silverdale, which will allow you to stay on the sidewalk. You can choose to veer off onto Bucklin Hill Road and head toward Tracyton Boulevard or keep going straight down Chico Way. Hopefully, you have a ride back to Poulsbo or you’ll have to turn around and do it all again.
Big Valley Road, Poulsbo
Big Valley is ideally located and suited for long runs because of its proximity to downtown Poulsbo and Poulsbo Village. Big Valley itself is a little more than 4.5 miles long, and it’s connection with Little Valley Road by crossing Bond Road brings you plenty of room to run along 10th Avenue and then back toward the city’s commercial centers and nearby residential neighborhoods.
The route doesn’t feature too many tough inclines, it’s mostly rolling hills and flat sections. The road does slant at its curvy sections at times, which may be tough on your feet if you’re not used to running on slanted roads. Residences on the road generally have huge tracts of land, so you’ll have the opportunity to see all sorts of animals. Toward the southern end of Big Valley Road, you’ll see one property with a few alpacas roaming around. Other homes have horses, dogs and cats hanging out in the grass.
For a half-marathon distance, start at the Poulsbo Marina and run up toward Jensen Way. Turn right at Iverson Street and head through Poulsbo Village to Liberty Road. Cross 305 and make your way up to 10th Avenue, which becomes Little Valley Road and cross Bond. Run all the way to the end of Big Valley and turn back for a 13.5 jaunt. The toughest sections are the eastbound hill on Little Valley just past Central Market and the Iverson Street hill southeast of Poulsbo Village.
Port Orchard Waterfront/ Beach Drive, Port Orchard
This route also serves as the majority of the course for the Yukon Do It! half marathon held every year in Port Orchard.
Starting at the Port Orchard marina on Bay Street, the pedestrian waterfront pathway allows you to stay off the roads in the city’s main commercial area, meandering its way through the waterfront park and in behind the Comfort Inn and across the bridge where it runs parallel to Bay Street.
For most of the route, there is a separate pedestrian path with a small barrier between it and the main roadway, though in certain spots there are some tight areas that will require you to pay close attention to the traffic. Bay Street eventually turns into Beach Drive near the Annapolis Ferry Dock and runs along the water all the way up to Waterman Point where it turns toward Manchester State Park. On a sunny day, you can’t beat the views of boats on Sinclair Inlet.
Fjord Drive/Lemolo Shore Drive, Poulsbo
Another beautiful water route that eventually takes you into the woods, Fjord Drive, which later turns into Lemolo Shore Drive once you get outside Poulsbo city limits, is another very simple route that can give you plenty of distance for those long runs.
Parking at the Poulsbo marina is simple, and from there you simply head north on Front Street toward the big hill on Hostmark Street and then make a right on Fjord. All is great for about two miles — the terrain is flat and the views of Liberty Bay and the Olympic Mountains are stunning.
Once you head up a small hill and down the other side, you’ll find yourself squarely in the Lemolo neighborhood near the Lemolo Market. Head on past Delate Road — which is part of the route for the Poulsbo half marathon — for a tough, uphill run up toward Route 305. It’s a lot harder than you think, especially if you already have a few miles under your belt. But the reward is its own as what goes up must come down. The entire route from the marina and back is approximately 6.7 miles, and you can detour for a little extra distance through a beautiful neighborhood at Tuk-Wil-La Road, which is used for the Viking Fest five-mile run.
Chico Way, Silverdale/Bremerton
This long road on the west side of Dyes Inlet gives you a number of options to keep runs fresh if you have several races to take on this summer.
Parking is easily found at the Silverdale marina and your run begins with a short trip up Byron Street in Old Town Silverdale before you make a left onto Chico Way.
Make your way south on a mostly flat run with some small rolling hills past the Newberry Hill Road traffic circle. Once you hit the Route 3 exit, you’ll have run about three miles and you have several choices on where to go from there.
The easiest path is to simply continue running further south on Chico Way. A little further down is Erlands Point Road, which will take you on a lovely loop through the bayside neighborhood and back out onto Chico Way where you can head back to your car.
Once past Erlands Point and the Chico Salmon Viewing Park, you’ll face a pretty steep incline that takes you all the way up to the commercial area with Big Apple Diner and the Garage. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can keep on going to where Kitsap Way meets Route 3, after which traffic will get a little too busy for comfort for most.
Fortunately, you still have a few options from here. Head west on Wilmont Street near the Forest Lawn Cemetery toward Harlow Drive. You can head back north past Kitsap Lake Elementary and take either route at the fork in the road. You can also opt for the Austin Drive route through N.A.D. park, which takes you back to Erlands Point, but the road is much narrower.
Got any more good running routes? Email sports and outdoors reporter Mark Krulish at firstname.lastname@example.org.