Jacques wins Chum Run amid superheroic competition

Nicholas Murphy, dressed as the comic book superhero Flash, sprints ahead of the 185 racers at the starting line. His friend and teammate, Spider Man/Brian McCleary, is only a stride behind him, and eventually finished ahead of Murphy in 17th place.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Nicholas Murphy, dressed as the comic book superhero Flash, sprints ahead of the 185 racers at the starting line. His friend and teammate, Spider Man/Brian McCleary, is only a stride behind him, and eventually finished ahead of Murphy in 17th place.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

LANGLEY — Only at the Chum Run does Spider Man beat the Flash in a foot race.

And no, he didn’t need to use his web-spraying skills to slow down his superhero friend, or tap his special “spidey senses” to figure out a winning strategy for negotiating the 5-kilometer route through the forest at South Whidbey Community Park.

Spider Man edged the Flash — spoiler alert — because the costumed character was really Brian McCleary, an amateur distance runner in triathlons and half-Ironman competitions.

McCleary, a member of Team Super Friends, which also included not only the Flash but Wonder Woman as well — was one of the many dressed-up speedsters to take part in Sunday’s 15th annual Chum Run. He finished in 24 minutes, 21 seconds for 17th place.

Flash was really Nicholas Murphy of Clinton, who finished in 28 minutes, 35 seconds.

And Wonder Woman wasn’t Lynda Carter or the fictional Amazon warrior. Rather, Heather Racicot donned the Wonder Woman outfit and won her age division in 29 minutes, 12 seconds.

“We had the best costume turnout we’ve ever had,” said race director Frazer Mann.

A quick glance to the horizon, and Mann’s assessment proved true. There was a pirate ship, full with the Dread Pirate Family Collins.

Unfortunately, their cardboard ship, the Running Dutch Man, wasn’t built for speed. At some point during the first loop, the Collins’ abandoned ship, with only two crew members left aboard.

The Dread Pirate Family Collins won the costume contest. Aboard the Running Dutch Man, the name of their cardboard two-person ship, was Mackenzee, Heather, Tim, Chase, Fran and one kidnapped pirate, Isaac Bartel.

This year’s race attracted 185 racers, an increase over the 118 participants who finished the Chum Run in 2010.

Spider Man and others, maybe not Wonder Woman or the Flash, may have marveled at the great conditions for the race.

Seventy degree heat and clear skies provided a clean start and dry trails, albeit a tough run with the added exertion.

Avery Buechner, a junior at South Whidbey High School, said the air in the woods felt thick and stifling.

It was his first Chum Run, and his goal was to beat Dana Hezel, the mother of MacKenzie Hezel, a freshman at South Whidbey. Buechner said that was his only goal, and knew he wouldn’t beat the real racers, some of whom are Ironman competitors.

Frank Jacques, running as Frank Jacques, won the race.

Despite winning, he was disappointed with his time.

“Well, my time was lousy,” Jacques said. “I can never explain it. This course is bewitching. It’s really hard to run it fast. There’s lots of turns, there are lots of uphills and downhills.”

This was Jacques’ third consecutive first-place finish at the Chum Run. It’s a race he said isn’t really his type of run; he prefers half-marathons and longer races over 5K runs.

“I was not as fast as I wanted to be, but it’s super fun,” Jacques said. “It’s a great race — OK, it’s not fun. It’s really painful. It’s a really painful race. It’s always hard, but it is a fun race.”

Jacques has raced in the Chum Run for eight of the past nine years.

One year he was sick, and watched the race from the side. In 2008, he finished in third place.

Jacques said he was shadowed on Sunday, but not by any masked man.

“I was dodging this high school guy,” Jacques said. “I was following this high school guy so I kept finding myself going outside, then inside.”

That high school guy was either Cole Zink, 13, or his brother Will, 17.

Cole finished in second place in 19 minutes, 55 seconds. Cole and Will, were only a few strides behind Jacques after the first loop.

Will is a junior at South Whidbey and a distance runner with the cross country and track and field teams; he dropped out of the race after the first loop.

Cole said the absence of brotherly competition didn’t affect his race.

“Right before the woods, I looked back and thought, ‘Is he going to catch up, or not?’” Cole said. “Then I just didn’t see him.”

Cole was unsure he could have finished better than his brother, had Will stayed in.

“It would have come out to the end of it who had the better sprint in them,” Zink said.

Kayla Eland was the first women’s racer to finish. She placed seventh overall in 21 minutes, 42 seconds.

“It was really fun, but I’ve come up here to run a few times,” Eland said. “They’re really nice trails.”

It was Eland’s first time racing in the Chum Run. Her mother lives in Langley, and she is home for the summer from the Claremont Colleges, a consortium of seven schools in Claremont, Calif. She is a distance runner for the D-III Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens.

Eland said the hills tired her legs more than she expected.

“It felt OK,” she said. “I’m a little tired, but it was pretty fun.”

Before the race, 10 girls had their hair spray-dyed blue, white and silver.

The girls, ranging from third to sixth grade, represented the South Whidbey Girls’ Running Club. They won the Village Pizzeria award for Best Team Name, which was the Raining Club.

The Chum Run was the club’s final race before the summer break and will resume in September.

They wore bead strands with flat inch-wide raindrops to reflect their honorary team name, the Raining Club.

Pam Jacques, the club’s coach and founder, said the girls met and ran every Monday and persevered through the rain almost every week.

“Every single Monday, it’s rained,” she said.

Running is in the family. Pam is married to Frank Jacques, the overall winner. Their 11-year-old daughter, Phoebe, also raced as part of the South Whidbey Girls’ Running Club. Phoebe raced in two previous Chum Runs, and the 2010 Elf Chase, also at South Whidbey Community Park. Her pedigree may be as a distance runner, but dad wasn’t so sure.

“We’re way more intense about it,” Frank Jacques said. “She’s way more of a natural runner than either of us are. And so she’s a bit cooler about it. But she has friends that do it, so her connection to the sport is that it’s social and fun; and ours is, we’re kind of Type A.”

Fourth-place finishers were awarded chocolate medals. The top man and woman finisher in each division received a certificate for a pair of running shoes; 10 pairs were awarded.

Jacques said he was impressed by the characters who came out for this year’s Chum Run.

“This is the most festive it’s ever been,” he said.

To view the complete results from the 2011 Chum Run, visit

Ben Watanabe can be reached at or 221-5300.

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