Runners get ready for 5K Chum Run

Runners follow the trail through Community Park during last year’s 3.1-mile Chum Run. This year’s event begins at 10 a.m. on Sunday. - David Welton
Runners follow the trail through Community Park during last year’s 3.1-mile Chum Run. This year’s event begins at 10 a.m. on Sunday.
— image credit: David Welton

What was once envisioned as a race for elite runners from the mainland has turned into a premiere community event — the Chum Run 5K race through the woods of South Whidbey.

“We’ve let the community tell us what direction they want to go with the event,” said race director Fraser Mann.

“Six years ago, the race organizers wanted to develop the Chum Run into a major competitive running race, but it just didn’t go in that direction. Instead, it evolved into more of a fun-loving community event that was more inclusive of the non-competitive runners,” he said.

For 13 years, the Chum Run has been a South End staple, providing parents, children, friends and, yes, serious runners the chance to test their mettle.

“The race takes place on the groomed forest trails, a beautiful running course that winds through the park with a few small hills,” Mann said. “A small section of the course, about

100 meters, is asphalt, but the rest is on packed forest trails and lawn. It’s therefore more appropriate to wear flats rather than spikes.”

The fun begins promptly at 10 a.m. Sunday at Community Park in Langley as the South Whidbey High School girls cross-country team gets the crowd into the proper mood with a little line dancing. The high school’s cross-country program will share proceeds of the race with the South Whidbey Community Park scholarship fund.

“The cross-country team will be a permanent recipient,” Mann said. “This is the perfect fit for the race because a primary goal of the Chum Run has been to encourage endurance running in young people. Now we can also provide financial assistance.”

The cross-country team has always had to supplement the limited school budget to pay for travel expenses to invitational meets. Money from the Chum Run will help with this effort, plus the race now will benefit from additional volunteer help.

“We want to continue the long-standing tradition of excellence in distance running in our South Whidbey schools,” Mann said. “We believe that endurance running develops character in young people like few other activities.”

Park Commissioner Don Wood said there is another advantage to the Chum Run.

“This event brings out people who may not have seen the upgrades and improvements we’ve made to areas like the skate park and Castle Park,” he said.

“The staff has been working with the mandate of making our park one of the nicest in the state. And they’ve succeeded.”

Mann said that the Chum Run is not just a competitive race, it’s also a fun community event for everyone who loves to run.

“As usual, there will be prizes given for the best team name and team costumes. On the competitive side, prizes will be awarded for the top male and female runners, and the top male and female high-school and middle-school runners. Our goal is to encourage runners of all ages, both in the school system and in the community at large.”

New this year is a relay event for kids. The 3.1-mile course will be divided into thirds so youngsters can run with friends.

The flavor of the Chum Run dramatically changed five years ago when Jim Freeman became the master of ceremonies.

“Any time you’ve got ‘The Conductor of Fun’ aboard, it’s going to get fun and zany,” Mann noted. “Of course, Jim’s commentary and trademark humor has made the kids’ Fry Run one of the highlights of the day.”

“Our goal is to encourage runners of all ages — on the island or visiting, both in the school system and in the community at large — to come out and have a terrific time.

“I think they will.”

For info, visit or call 579-8578.

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