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Citizen of the Week Marathon man brings fun run to Snoqualmie

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As much as Sean Sundwall enjoyed his first Railroad Days experience last summer, something was missing: a road run.

Nearby communities’ summer festivals featured races, but Snoqualmie hadn’t yet started its own tradition. An avid runner who recently won an Oregon marathon, Sundwall thought demand for a Snoqualmie foot-race would be big.

“I see a lot of people running around, particularly on the Ridge, and I thought, ‘We should have one.’ And it’s one of those things that if it’s your idea, then you’re in charge of putting it together,” he said.

So Sundwall, who had never before organized a race, got to work recruiting sponsors and volunteers, plotting a flat course, getting permits for road closures, and spreading the word.

Having participated in plenty of races, Sundwall had a good idea of how he wanted his event to go. He made painstaking efforts to ensure that mile markers were where they belonged, water and bathrooms were plentiful, the race started on time, and entry costs weren’t prohibitive.

Thanks to sponsors, most of which were local, registration was kept down to $20, and Sundwall was also able to organize a free 1k fun run for children 11 and younger. Proceeds from the event will fund scholarship programs for the Snoqualmie Valley Track Club.

“I wanted to help an organization that was dedicated to taking kids of all shapes and sizes, and talents and abilities, and providing them with a sport,” he said.

Sundwall has a personal appreciation for the inclusiveness of running sports. His senior year of high school, Sundwall was cut from the basketball team. At just over 5’7”, he just wasn’t tall enough to make the roster. He turned to track, where he found the perfect combination of team spirit and individuality: “You have the support structure, but it’s you against the clock.”

Concerned about childhood obesity rates, Sundwall is excited to encourage fitness among youth.

“I’m a big believer that whatever sport you end up playing, running is almost certainly a part of it, whether it’s football or basketball or whatever. Even if you choose not to make running itself your sport of choice, it’s an important element to fitness.”

He also thinks the children’s race can provide a rallying point for his city.

“There are too many things out there that can push us apart, geography being one,” he said. “When the kids run up and down Railroad, that will be a cool thing for the community, and, like any community, this one can use every opportunity to grow together.”

Sundwall expects to make the Railroad Days Run an annual event, and is also planning other runs around the Valley, including a Halloween dash that would benefit Cascade View Elementary School.

“If that’s successful, we could expand it to other schools in the district,” he said. Sundwall also has ideas brewing for a Christmas run, as well as a St. Patrick’s Day race that would be sponsored by Finaghty’s Irish Pub and Restaurant.

“It could be a community event, with bands playing. There’s a real opportunity to do something special.”

• Do you know Valley residents who deserve recognition for their good work? Nominate them for Citizen of the Week, an award co-sponsored by the Valley Record and Replicator Graphics. Send your ideas to editor@valleyrecord.com, or call (425) 888-2311.

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