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Led by South Whidbey uber-marathoner Matt Simms, a large cadre of island runners invaded and conquered the Seattle Marathon Sunday.
In the 26.2-mile road race, Simms, 36, placed ninth overall in a time of 2 hours, 44 minutes, 55 seconds. Just three minutes off his best time, the performance was his second top-10 placing at the event in three years. In addition, Simms won the 35-39 age group in the race.
Winning the marathon overall was Uli Steidl of Seattle in a time of 2:29:36. In all, 2,272 people finished the marathon.
Simms earned his placing less than a month after competing at and placing in Ironman Hawaii, a triathlon that requires participants to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and run 26.2 miles. For Sundays race, Simms took on an atypical strategy while running with friends, starting the race slowly, then running the second 13.1 miles faster than the first.
Its something I never, ever wouldve done running by myself, he said.
Also running the race was Mike Zink of Langley and 17-year-old Shawn Morris of Clinton. Zink, 44, covered the course in 3:42:29 for 438th place, just ahead of Morris 3:44:35 performance. Morris, a South Whidbey High School senior, was ninth in his age group and 463rd overall in the race, which was his first-ever marathon. His longest previous race was 6.2 miles.
In the Seattle Half Marathon, also held on Sunday, Clinton Ironman Triathlete Challis Stringer set a personal-best time at the 13.1-mile distance, finishing in 1:47:58. Her previous best for that distance was 1:54.00, set at the halfway point of the running portion of Ironman Canada this past summer. Stringer, who is 29, finished 227th overall and 51st in her age division.
Also running from South Whidbey was Sherry Mays of Clinton. Mays finished the race in a time of 1:55:46, shaving 24 minutes off her previous best in the race.
Meanwhile, on the mountain bike course...
Elsewhere over the weekend, the spouses of some of the marthoners were making their own athletic impressions. At a Fort Ebey mountain bike race held Saturday, both Ed Stringer and Erin Simms of Langley placed in their divisions. Simms was the top rider on the day, taking first place in the womens sport class. She, like all the other racers, rode her bike on a 5-mile trail loop through Fort Ebey State Park. In her class, Simms rode two laps of the course.
Stringer, racing in his second-ever race at the sport level, placed third in his class in amongst a total of 35 male racers.
Both Stringer and Simms are members of the South Whidbey Endurance Athletic team, as are Matt Simms, Challis Stringer and Sherry Mays.