Evan Thompson / The Record — Around 75 people participated in the 20th annual Chum Run on Saturday at Community Park.

Seventy-five participate in 20th annual Chum Run at Community Park

Scott Knackstedt’s experience as a collegiate runner shined through at the 20th annual Chum Run on Saturday at Community Park.

The former University of Portland cross country runner finished the 5-kilometer course in 17 minutes and 55 seconds to win the men’s division and 13 seconds ahead of runner-up Grant Finney. The Seattle resident was in town visiting his parents, Jean and Virgil Knackstedt of Useless Bay, and planned to take advantage of low tides when he heard about the event.

“They know I enjoy running,” Knackstedt said.

He spent part of the morning dashing through the trails, forest and roads of the course before crossing the finish line near the baseball fields. He said his first time in the event was memorable.

“Community Park is such a terrific place to run,” Knackstedt said. “The trails are fantastic, the course is super well marked and the fans were exceptional.”

“I would love to come back,” he added.

Around 75 competitors participated in the race, which was split into over 20 divisions based on age. The field had plenty of variety, from young runners trying to improve their skills to parents who ran the course with their kids pushing strollers. Ages ranged from 4 to over 75 years old.

Joey Key won the women’s division, as well as the age 35-39 group. Knackstedt also claimed the men’s 35-39 group.

Weather conditions were considered favorable by organizers. Carrie Monforte, programs director for the South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District, said the sunshine and temperatures were a welcome respite from previous years. The district teamed up with the Healthy Island Youth Scholarship committee, which provides funding for local kids whose families cannot afford to participate in organized sports and active programs. The scholarship fund received half of the proceeds from the event.

Monforte said the event was a success.

“It seemed like people were having a great time as they came across the finish line,” Monforte said.

Jen Wuest of Clinton won the 40-44 age group. Though it was her first Chum Run, Wuest said she participated for the social atmosphere.

“I like to do local races because it’s a fun way to meet local people who are nearby,” Wuest said.

She also enjoyed the spirit of the event.

“I like the motto: Run with your chums,” Wuest said. “Or, if you don’t have any chums that come with you, try and meet them.”

Wuest’s friend, Patti Beaven, said running is not her favorite form of exercise. She’s a leader of the “Sloth Army Running Club,” which does quick cardio workouts at Community Park. It was the first time she’s participated in a competitive running event.

“My motto is that I’m running slower than a herd of sloths, stampeding through a batch of Nutella, but I’m running,” Beaven said.

Not everyone ran. Four members of the South Whidbey Weight Watchers group walked at a brisk pace near the back of the pack. Their leader, Joan Wolfman of Greenbank, said they participated because it’s part of their healthy lifestyle and because of the laid back style of the race.

“It starts at 10 (a.m.) and there’s no parking problems, and it’s friendly,” Wolfman said. “It’s perfect.”