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Runners’ store a natural fit with trails network
Poulsbo couple stages Roots Rock Trail Running series to promote North Kitsap as outdoor venue

By Terri Gleich - For KPBJ 

Photo credit: Larry Steagall) (Caption for photo slugged “Poulsborun1”: Poulsbo Running owner Brooke Hammett, left, helps regular customer Larry Asher of Poulsbo with a new pair of running shoes. Hammett and her husband, Chris, organize the Roots Rock Trail Running series.)When Chris and Brooke Hammett created a series of Port Gamble trail running races in 2006, they wanted to do more than just promote their new running store. They also wanted to promote the trails.

“We really wanted people to realize what they have in their own backyard in terms of the trails there,” said Brooke Hammett, whose Poulsbo Running sells shoes and apparel for runners and triathletes.

Eight years later, the Roots Rock Trail Running series attracts hundreds of people each year, with participants from as far away as Japan, and Hammett, as a board member of the North Kitsap Trails Association, is part of a coalition working to purchase the undeveloped trail lands and permanently preserve public access to them.

Jon Rose, president of Olympic Property Group, which owns the land, said the Hammetts’ races have drawn attention to the trails as a community resource and inspired other events, including the state’s biggest mountain bike race.

“They have definitely helped build awareness that there is something worth preserving in Port Gamble,” he said.

Rose believes that events such as the Roots Rock races, the Stottlemeyer 30/60 Mile Mountain Bike Race and a multi-sport race sponsored by Olympic Outdoor Center can be the nucleus of a new tourism economy in north Kitsap that revolves around developing the trails and surrounding land for recreational use, and eventually creating a trail system that links Puget Sound with the Olympics.

When the Hammetts began their racing series, the Port Gamble trails were not well known. In fact, the couple had only learned about them by accident a few years earlier when Brooke Hammett stumbled upon the Stottlemeyer trailhead during a training run.

“Once we discovered they were there, we didn’t want to run anywhere else,” she said. 

At the time, Chris Hammett said, there were no trail running races on this side of Puget Sound, nor were there any ultras, which are races longer than a marathon. The couple saw an opportunity to fill that void and the Port Gamble trials were the perfect venue.

This year there are five races in the Roots Rock series, which started in February with a 50K/25K run benefitting Fishline. Still to come this year are the Port Gamble Half Marathon on Aug. 3 and the popular Spooky 12K Oct. 26, which includes a costume contest and free one-mile race for kids.

The other two 2014 races were the Forest 5K in June and the Lumberjack Endurance Runs in April. About 60 people participated in the endurance event, choosing from distances of 100 miles, 100K and 50 miles. Participants ran around the clock for up to 30 hours, stopping only to grab a quick bite and change their socks.

Linda Berry-Maraist, a Poulsbo City Council member and president of the trails association, said tourism statistics show that events like the Lumberjack Endurance Runs draw people to North Kitsap and benefit local businesses. They also present the area to its best advantage.

“What’s really unique about Port Gamble is that you can do a distance run or bike ride and not be on a road,” she said. “To be

 be so close to an urban area and run 100 miles and not have to cross a road, that’s absolutely unique.”

In addition to the Fishline food bank in Poulsbo, Roots Rock races benefit area high school cross country teams and the trails association. Chris Hammett is a former Bainbridge High School cross-country runner.

The Hammetts have made a conscious decision to support the community through their business. In addition to donating the proceeds from their race series, they also sponsor other local running races and support area schools.

“Poulsbo is a fairly small town and it’s really important for businesses to be strong community members,” Brooke Hammett said. 

That’s not just good for the community, she said. It’s also good for the bottom line and helps to bolster customer loyalty.

“That’s really important in our field because people can easily buy their shoes over the Internet.”

• For more information on the Roots Rock Trail Running series or to register for a race, go to www.rootsrockrun.com.





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