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Most years the starting line of the Corvallis Half Marathon is surrounded by excited-looking people in athletic wear warming up or talking with friends  long before the race starts.

But this year the field of Reser Stadium where the starting line was located was nearly abandoned until the race was less than ten minutes away, when reluctant runners left the cover of the stands in a trickle to troop down to the field through a heavy downpour from a sky the gloomy color of wet concrete.

Race director Blair Bronson said the half marathon, which was held for the eighth time Sunday, had been lucky enough to have nice weather before this year.

“Hopefully, we got this out of the way and can have another seven years of good weather after this,” he said.

Bronson said about 1,200 people signed up to run the half marathon Sunday, and nearly 300 more ran its related five and one kilometer races Saturday.

Saturday’s weather was overcast — perfect for running — Bronson said, but Sunday they were just hoping to avoid anyone having any health issues or injuries caused by the soggy conditions.

However, he said he expected most runners at the event would be prepared for the conditions.

“It’s Oregon and they’re runners. This isn’t their first rodeo, so they come prepared. They’ve been training in this all winter,” Bronson said.

Tara Welling, the race’s women’s winner with a time of 1:18:48, said she is originally from Tucson, Arizona, and is more used to running in 90 degree weather than Sunday’s rain.

“Even though I live in Oregon, I’m not used to the rain,” said Welling, who runs for Skechers Performance.

However, she said Sunday’s rain was warmer than she expected, and it didn’t affect her as much as she had thought it might.

Welling’s husband, Jordan Welling, who runs for Bowerman Track Club Elite, was the men’s winner with a time of 1:08:29. He said for events like this runners always prepare with a lot of gear options so they can dress right for conditions, but he added he’s a bit more used to the rain than his wife, since he grew up in Washington.

“I’m Pacific Northwest born and raised, so I’m used to it,” he said. “This feels like home for me.”

Both Wellings praised the organization of the event.

There are lots of volunteers out on the course, and someone directing you at every turn, said Jordan Welling.

“This is a really great event,” said Tara Welling. “They always have good hospitality and good elite (runner) coordination.”

Bob Hazleton, with the Rotary Club of Corvallis After Five, the event’s organizer, said over eight years it has raised more than $250,000 for local charities, including Linn-Benton Food Share, which it funds every year.

Hazleton said the event had about 300 volunteers this year.

Anthony Rimel covers education and can be reached at anthony.rimel@lee.net, 541-758-9526, or via Twitter @anthonyrimel.

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