Field at Langley half-marathon exceeds expectations

Langley’s Frank Jacques crosses the finish line Sunday in first place after completing the half-marathon in 1 hour, 23 minutes, 23 seconds. The race was held in conjunction with Langley
Langley’s Frank Jacques crosses the finish line Sunday in first place after completing the half-marathon in 1 hour, 23 minutes, 23 seconds. The race was held in conjunction with Langley's annual Choochokam Arts festival.
— image credit: Jeff VanDerford

The little local race that could is all grown up.

For the second year, Frank Jacques of Langley was first with a time of 1 hour, 23 minutes,

23 seconds in Sunday’s Langley half-marathon.

Jacques couldn’t stop smiling after crossing the finish line.

“This is a top-notch event, from beginning to end,” he said.

This year, he had some serious competition from Jeromy Waddell of Bow, who finished in 1:23.39.

“At least this race is consistent; as soon as you’re heading down, getting in stride, you have to start up another hill,” Waddell said. “Lots of hills.”

Katy Gordon of Clinton — on her summer break from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — was first for the women in a time of 1:33.36.

Gordon jockeyed for the lead with Laury Tarte of Seattle, who is used to hills.

“The course was very scenic, but having to switch from running down to uphill wasn’t easy,” Tarte said. She finished the race in 1:34.37.

She found the race online and, when she learned she’d get free socks, she was sold.

Gordon felt the weather was perfect, at least for a long-distance event exceeding 13 miles.

“That girl (Tarte) and I had a real competitive thing going on,” she said. “She led the first half and I finished in front. Lots of fun.”

The race was expected to bring in about 200 racers Sunday, up from 91 in last year’s race.

But more than 300 — including runners from 15 states and four countries — showed up.

“We ran out of numbers for all those who were at the start line,” said organizer Matt Simms.

The race began at 8:30 a.m. at the corner of Second and De Bruyn, headed out along Saratoga Road to Fox Spit Road and back to downtown. Water stations were spaced along the course.

The awards ceremony was held on the main stage next to the Dog House Tavern.

Most ran the 13.1-mile course, but others decided on the 10-kilometer walk, a newly-added fitness event this year, despite the shifting weather that brought chilly temperatures and rain.

Ty Bailie hails from dry, flat, wind-swept Mesa in eastern Washington.

“Hey, no sun and lots of water,” he said. “This race was wonderful. I definitely will do it again next year, maybe bring some friends.”

Barbara Williams and Nancy Zevenbergen live in Edmonds, but own property on Whidbey.

“We’ve never done a 10K walk before and weren’t sure we could finish. But we did, as you see,” Williams said with a grin.

Zevenbergen added that she was impressed with the level of organization and friendliness of the people along the route.

Gary Crabtree of Oak Harbor was surprised at the level of difficulty he found on the course.

“That turnaround hill is a bummer, and I had a hard time maintaining a sense of pace,” he said. “But I’ll be back again next year.”

Simms said he was surprised at how fast a small community event like the half-marathon can grow.

“We had a great race, thanks to many, many people — the city of Langley, Langley Police, Island County and the Choochokam Arts folks allowed us to use the roads and streets and associate with the festival,” Simms said. “Local businesses in downtown and people living along the race course were flexible and understanding as the event passed by.”

Proceeds from the race will benefit the South Whidbey Parks Foundation, which provides scholarship money for those who cannot afford park programs.

Simms added that a horde of volunteers gave their time and energy to make the event run smoothly and professionally.

“Our running community is the key to a successful half-marathon,” he said. “We couldn’t do this without them.”

The top South Whidbey male runners were Jacques, 1:23.23; Peter Oakley, 1:24.37; Mark Cook, 1:31.34; Curt Gordon, 1:31.57; and Paul Ringsrud, 1:34.34.

The top female finishers included Gordon, 1:33.36; Megan Scudder, 1:48.40; and Rosemarie Donnelly, 1:48.41.

Jeff VanDerford can be reached at 221-5300 or

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