LANGLEY — With his hands raised high, a big grin and covered in sweat, Frank Jacques became the first winner of the Langley Half Marathon, running the 13.1-mile course in 1 hour, 25 minutes, 15 seconds.
Suzi Harvey of Sparks, Nev. was the first woman to finish. She ran the race in 1:35.59.
Held in conjunction with Choochokam Arts, 91 entrants — 32 from Island County — ran Sunday morning on a course picked by organizer Matt Simms and timed to coincide with the second day of the festival.
As runners approached the finish line, they could hear the
Joplin-esqe blues of singer Cee Cee James on the Main Stage.
“Oh my gosh, this course was made for Langley runners,” Jacques said.
“The question was, can I stay tough on the hills? But I felt I had to uphold the reputation of South Whidbey athletes.”
“It was a hard race with lots of hills,” she noted. “But really beautiful.”
She was also gratified by the presence of Kathy Rogers, who rode her bike the entire course to provide encouragement.
“That was just amazing, as was the fact, this was my first-ever win,” Harvey said. “I had to think about how to break the tape as
I ran down the last hill.”
Coming in second and third for the men was Jared Roush at 1:27.40 and Mike Koslosky with 1:29.39. Michelle Halsne was second for the women with 1:40.09 and Megan Scudder third at 1:46.30.
The race began promptly at 8:30 a.m. — “Starting on time was my first big goal,” Simms said — from the corner of Second and De Bruyn streets, then headed out along Saratoga Road to Fox Spit Road and back to downtown.
Simms had arranged for a motorcycle to precede the racers with a digital clock plainly visible on the back.
Darragh Page from Greystones near Dublin, Ireland heard about the event and thought he’d give it a go.
“Who put all those hills there?” he asked while sipping water.
Though Page runs a few half marathons a year, this was one of the hardest, a common theme from many runners.
“It’s a classic Matt-style race,” Challis Stringer noted. And Pedro DeGuzman called it, “The world’s toughest half mile.”
Langley Middle School teacher Rosemarie Donnelly, who ran the Boston Marathon last spring, said she’ll never listen to Simms again.
“Matt told me gently rolling hills, but relentlessly rolling is more like it,” she said. “But it’s great to have a race like this in Langley and you can’t beat the views.”
Simms didn’t advertise the race widely because he wanted the focus to remain on South Whidbey athletes and was pleased with the turnout.
“We had a great race, thanks to many, many people — the city of Langley, Langley Police, Island County and Choochokam 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.”
Fees from the race will benefit the South Whidbey Community Center Foundation.
Simms added that a horde of volunteers gave their time and energy to make the event run smoothly and professionally.
“And the runners may have suffered on the hills but came back to town with smiles on their faces and wings on their shoes. As it should be,” he said.
On a nearby table sat a large sign where runners could voice their impressions.
First-place winner Jacques had the last word: “Exquisite suffering, but I had fun.”
South Whidbey half marathon runners:
Frank Jacques, 1:25.15; Curt Gordon, 1:29.58; Ron Vollbrecht, 1:30.58; Jim Jones, 1:37.51; Mark Cook, 1:41.10; Frazer Mann, 1:43.44; Megan Scudder, 1:46.30; Challis Stringer, 1:50.22; Michael Zink, 1:51.14; Rosemarie Donnelly, 1:53.03; Gilman Low, 1:53.28; Jon Crimmons, 1:56.23; Brenda DeForest, 2:00.53, Joseph Young, 2:01.200; Jenica Nixon, 2:06.49; Tim Hanson, 2:08.22; Patricia Buchanan, 2:15.59; Natalie Schmidt, 2:18.16, Drake Tiffing, 2:18.59, Kelly Donahue, 2:20.42 and Charlene Rose, 2:33.55.