LANGLEY — Local long-distance runner Matt Simms finished first in the 12th annual 5K Chum Run on Sunday at Community Park with a time of 17 minutes, 45 seconds.
Alex Nydam from Oak Harbor was second with 18:48 and Frank Jacques of Langley was third at 18:51.
For the women, Freeland’s Dana Hezel was first with 21:32, Erica Johnson was second at 22:27 and Megan Scudder third at 23 minutes flat.
Race director Fraser Mann was happy with the turnout; 145 finished the race versus 115 last year.
“While today was the most we’ve ever had, I’m really pleased so many kids showed up, either for the Fry Run or in the main race,” he said.
One would think that running a 5k race — a bit over 3.1 miles — would be a piece of cake for someone like Simms.
“For me, this is a tough run,” he said. “In a marathon, I start at a much slower pace and the real stress on my body begins at about mile 20. Here, the heart races faster from the start and stays that way.”
This was Hezel’s fourth time at the Chum Run; daughter MacKenzie, 12, ran with her and placed third for middle school girls.
“This is a real community race, the trails were well-marked and everyone shows up and has a good time,” she said.
Longtime event supporter Curt Gordon ran with wife Susan and daughter Katy, just back from her first year at MIT.
“The course is in gorgeous shape, there’s a ton of people here and I made it across the line,” Curt Gordon said. “Doesn’t get much better.”
This year, proceeds were divided between the high school cross country team and South Whidbey Parks & Recreation District scholarship fund.
“The Falcon cross country team will be a permanent recipient,” Mann said. “This is the perfect fit because one of our goals has been to encourage endurance running in young people. Now we can also provide financial assistance.”
Falcon cross country coach Doug Fulton noted that cross country parents have been volunteering at the Chum Run for years. The money will be used for the annual team practice at Camp Casey and travel to invitationals.
“One of our goals is to get more young people involved in running and its working,” Fulton said.
Evidence of that came from Chase White, 10, who ran with a broken collar bone along with his soccer club buddies.
“Two weeks ago I threw a football at a friend and he tackled me,” White recalled. “It hurt to run but I wanted to do something different.”
Conductor of Fun Jim Freeman had a ball handing out prizes to the winners.
At one point, Mann had to run home for the awards.
“How casual an event can this be?” Freeman said.
The winners for the best team costume were The Sexy Beasts — Aren, Michela and Evan Mattens — two twin brothers and their sister.
“It’s great to see all these folks out here to support cross country,” said Michela Mattens, a member of the high school team.
Brother Evan agreed that the race was an awesome experience.
“Even wearing this crazy stuffed bra,” he said.
Though slowed the last few years by illness, legendary coach Carl Westling was on hand to cheer the runners as they took off into the trails named for him.
Mann and the other volunteers want to continue the longstanding tradition of excellence in distance running on the island.
“We believe that endurance running develops character in young people like few other activities. We’ll be back; same time, next year,” Mann said.