Pair of first-time racers wins Langley Half Marathon
By BEN WATANABE
South Whidbey Record Sports, South Whidbey School District, South Whidbey Fire/EMS
July 18, 2011 · Updated 11:30 AM
LANGLEY — Those hills, some racers said, panting.
“Gently rolling hills,” others snickered to Erin Simms, a volunteer race organizer at the finish line.
There were hills, hills, hills and more hills, for most of the 13.1 mile Langley Half Marathon course. And that’s what racers complained, laughed and spoke about as they walked, ran, staggered and strutted across the finish line.
“There were a couple hills, namely miles one through 13, that were pretty hilly,” said Maxwell Ferguson, the overall winner and men’s first-place finisher.
The women’s first-place finisher noticed the inclines, too.
Kayla Eland, 21, is a South Whidbey High School alumna and former cross country runner, and despite living on South Whidbey, wasn’t as prepared for the hills as she wanted to be.
“It was really pretty (and) really hilly,” she said.
One finisher wasn’t as bothered by the hills.
Scott Warwick ran the 10 kilometer (6.2 mile) route so fast that race organizers weren’t set up at the finish line.
Warwick, 18, came chugging down First Street and organizers rushed to mark the end of the course. He crossed the finish line in 45 minutes, 54.3 seconds, before the “Finish” banner and electronic chip timing system were set up.
“I was surprised I had to go around the barricade,” Warwick said.
Despite his early arrival, Warwick, a first-time racer and former South Whidbey High School cross country runner, said he probably could have shown up sooner.
“I thought I could have done a little better, but at the last hill I started cramping up,” Warwick said. “And that’s when I kind of lost it in my momentum.”
David Miles crossed soon after Warwick, though as a racer in the half marathon. His time would be incredible, if not for his early start time.
Miles, 54, began the race 30 minutes early so he could finish in time for work.
Other dedicated racers may have requested vacation time for the race, but Miles’ stakeholders didn’t budge. After all, he is the senior pastor at Christian Missionary Alliance and his congregation wanted him at Sunday’s service. So he ran the course in 1 hour, 26 minutes and 3.6 seconds, then hustled off to work up the hill and was notified later that he finished in fifth place.
For all the familiar faces, a pair of first-time racers were the first finishers.
Ferguson crossed the finish line in 1 hour, 19 minutes and 20.7 seconds for his first Langley Half Marathon. The 25-year-old from Ravensdale found the Langley race online and was plugged into the race’s hills from the start.
“I looked at the times and I just kind of figured, ‘Oh, it’s a pretty flat course,’ and I might go out there and run a fast time — and that was not true,” he said.
An avid runner, Ferguson said the race was the first of at least five he will run this year. He competes in 10k races and longer, and said his best race is supposed to be the marathon.
“I haven’t run anything near as hard as this,” Ferguson said, adding it was almost five minutes slower than any of his previous half marathon times.
“I was pleased winning it, considering. I guess that’s all I can ask,” he added.
Despite running one of his worst times, Ferguson won his second first place in a half marathon and said he will return as long as there is a Choochokam.
“I can run this until there’s no fair,” he said.
Eland, a first-time Langley racer, won the women’s race in 1 hour, 40 minutes and 55.3 seconds.
Fifty seconds after the first 12 men’s racers finished, Eland came down the final hill led by the “female leader” bicyclist. She broke the finish line ribbon with a smile.
“It was kind of what I expected, a little slower than I normally run one, but with all the hills, it’s pretty normal,” Eland said.
For the first half of the race, Eland was running with a group of women racers. Then she sped up and down the hills to put a few minutes between her and the group.
“That was really fun to get to run with everyone,” Eland said. “They were right behind me. Following the bike, that was helpful.”
The South Whidbey native is on the cross country and track teams at Claremont Colleges in Claremont, Calif., a Division III school. Even though she doesn’t spend much time on South Whidbey these days, Eland made a splash earlier this summer at the Chum Run, where she was also the women’s first-place finisher.
Though she didn’t sign up for the race (her mother did, the week prior), she enjoyed it anyway.
“Yeah, there were a lot of hills and it was beautiful,” Eland said.
A familiar face crossed the finish line behind Eland — Chantal White.
White graduated from South Whidbey this year and ran cross country for the Falcons. She finished in 1 hour, 43 minutes and 19.9 seconds for second place. White will enroll at California Lutheran University, where she plans to run cross country for the Regals.
Sunday’s weather may prepare White for her Southern California environment. The warm, overcast morning worked perfectly for most racers. The gray cloud cover kept the sun from glaring directly on them as they completed the half marathon or the 6.2 mile walk, which may be as good as it gets in Western Washington this July.
As part of the Choochokam Arts festival, most of the prizes were from Langley businesses, including gift certificates from Chocolate Flower Farm, Mike’s Place, the Clyde Theatre, Village Pizzeria and Prima Bistro, along with matted photos by Dave Welton for each race placer by age division.
Ben Watanabe can be reached at 221-5300, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact South Whidbey Record Sports, South Whidbey School District, South Whidbey Fire/EMS Ben Watanabe at email@example.com or 360-221-5300.