The Whidbey Marathon brought out more than 2,400 runners from all over the United States on Sunday.
For the record, Jon Shea won the marathon in 2 hours, 49 minutes, 8 seconds. For the ladies, Jessica Norton crossed the line at 3:22:26.
In the half-marathon, Chad Trammell made it in 1:11:53 and Nikki Gamble in 1:26:53.
The Whidbey Marathon is the first big high-profile race of the season, and the excitement was palpable at the 8 a.m. start at Deception Pass.
Runners gathering for the half-marathon at Olympic View Elementary wore every imaginable type of racing gear, from high-tech running shoes to ragged, but supremely comfortable footwear that had clearly seen many miles.
The queue to use the green portable toilets stretched farther than a football field, but spirits were high as start time drew closer.
This was the first long-distance run for Greenbank’s Barbara Dansen.
“It’s cold out here this morning but
I guess that’ll be good later on,” she noted. “I’ve been training for a couple months, mostly in the rain. I’d rather be cold and dry than wet.”
Julie Raulerson from Freeland and her goddaughter Savannah McGraw from Clinton were planning to walk the half-marathon.
“We heard the course is really beautiful and we thought it was a good time to start developing good exercise habits,” Raulerson said.
Susan Miles from Freeland has done this before. She ran the Chicago Marathon in 2003.
“This is an exciting event, especially when you see all these people,” she said. “Besides, I like making goals and keeping them.”
Wendy Close isn’t shy about her age, 54.
“This is my second Whidbey run and I’ve been training with my friends because there’s a lot of hills.”
Before the 8:30 a.m. start one fellow was seen keeping his wife company by holding an iPod and speakers as she ran, encouraging her with the theme from “Rocky” blaring out.
With the Gold Wing Motorcycle Club as escorts, racers traversed the eastern side of the island, avoiding main roads wherever possible, to finish in Coupeville. Aid stations providing sustenance and encouragement were located every couple of miles.
The exhausted but triumphant runners arrived at the finish line as hundreds cheered their accomplishment. And each runner also received custom-designed medals and special blue T-shirts commemorating their accomplishment.
And, of course, bragging rights.
The marathon was pretty exciting for local businesses as well; most runners came from off-island, determined to enjoy their visit, maybe spend a little discretionary income.
People just like John Stasis and his wife Judy from Seattle who entered the half-marathon — they had dinner in Langley, spent the night at a local bed-and-breakfast, ran 13 miles, had lunch in Coupeville and stopped by an antique store in Greenbank on their way home.
“This is the first race of the season, the weather was great and we definitely contributed to the local economy,” Stasis said.
“It was great and we’ll be back.”
Jeff VanDerford can be reached at 221-5300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.