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Island marathoners good for big-time results in Seattle
Anyone who believes Americans are becoming more unhealthy with each passing year has never been to Whidbey Island.
On Dec. 1, South Whidbey's fittest athletes put on a show for the rest of the world, or at least the rest of Western Washington, when they swarmed the field at the Seattle Marathon. Five islanders ran in the 1,000-plus person race, competing at all levels.
Among the elite were Langley's Matt Simms and Clinton resident Charley Lewarne. Simms, who was a top-10 finisher at the race last year, spent much of the day hunting eventual race winner Uli Steidl, who finished in 2:26:32. Running as close to the front as second place, according to other South Whidbey athletes watching him from further back in the pack, Simms, 34, handled the first 20 miles of the race well. It was the last six that were a problem.
"It was brutal," said Simms, whose run Sunday was only his second-ever marathon.
Forced to walk for a few minutes after hitting "the wall" at about 22 miles, Simms said a Jolly Rancher candy handed to him by a race walker was the thing that got him restarted. Even with the late-race stroll, Simms finished 19th in a time of 2 hours, 54 minutes and 2 seconds.
Lewarne stuck close to Simms for the first half of the race before fading late. Still, his 3:19:22 finishing on the notoriously hilly Seattle course was good enough for the 36 year old to finish 146th overall.
Three Whidbey Island women finished further back, but in strong form. Sherry Mays, a Langley-area resident who trained for the marathon to do fundraising for cancer research, was tops among them, finishing the 26.2-mile race in 4:22:44 and 322nd place. She said the final miles of the race were tough for her as she and Whidbey running partner Challis Stringer could no longer hold the same pace. Mays finished 40 seconds ahead after running most of the race step-for-step with Stringer.
Sprinting to the finish in Memorial Stadium, Mays, a first-time marathoner, said the race was the experience of a lifetime.
"It was really incredible," she said.
Stringer, a Clinton resident, finished her race in 327th place in a time of 4:23:23.
Dina Swires was not far behind Mays and Stringer. The Langley runner earned 365th place on a 4:30:01 finish time.