James Steller is going to give Whidbey Island the run-around.
Steller, a Coupeville resident and board member of the Community Foundation for Coupeville Public Schools, is attempting to circumnavigate the island by foot to raise money for the foundation.
“Every dollar donated directly benefits the Coupeville Schools Foundation, which supports school children in need, teachers through grants that fund innovation and creativity for their curriculum, and scholarships for seniors,” Steller said.
“It’s for a great cause; our family is directly matching donations and organizing a raffle to boot,” he added.
Steller plans to circumnavigate Whidbey Island counterclockwise, covering the 160-mile run in three stages over three days, Sept. 1-3. The first leg will begin at Mickey Clark Field at Coupeville Elementary School and end in Langley. On day two, Steller will run from Langley back to Coupeville. The third day he’ll complete the task by circling North Whidbey from Coupeville.
During the journey, Steller will run on perimeter streets, trails and beaches.
“As the event begins, I will use our Foundation Facebook page to allow fans to track progress throughout the day — well, at least when there is cell service,” Steller said.
Although Steller said he is not sure he can complete the 160-mile jaunt, his running history suggests he can. He took up running when he moved to Whidbey Island in 2001 and competed in the 2004 Whidbey Marathon.
After that marathon, he said he “quickly vowed, and then just as quickly forgot, to never do that again.”
Steller now lists more than 70 events to his credit, tallying more than 1,300 miles in races and thousands more during training runs. He has competed in everything from 5K fun runs to a 120-mile stage race in Colorado. He’s run in the Boston Marathon and in a marathon up the Matterhorn.
He is also a consistent participant and high finisher in local races, such as the Whidbey Island Marathon, Race, the Reserve, Deception Pass 50K and 25K, the Eagle Run, the Megan McClung Run, Ragnar Relay, Fort Ebey Trail Run, Whidbey Island Triathlon and the Jingle Bell Trail Run.
“I love to support the local races here on Whidbey,” he said. “I feel like this is our home turf and someone from the island needs to vie for the top.”
“I notched a few wins in my faster days, but these days, I am thankful for age-group awards.”
In addition to running around Whidbey on Labor Day weekend, Steller is planing two finish-line parties for when he returns to Coupeville at the ends of the second and third stages Saturday and Sunday.
Steller’s son, Grant, attends Coupeville Middle School.
“It was seeing the care and excellence of the teachers in the district that inspired me to get involved, join the foundation board and concoct this crazy attempt,” Steller said.
“They have made a true difference in our community, and this seems like a great way to support them.”
To learn more about Steller’s run and to donate, visit www.4coupevilleschools.org/circumnavigate-whidbey-is.html
“Who knows, if there are enough crazy runners out there, this could be the next big thing for Whidbey,” Steller said.