Course change makes sense

Like a lot of people, I was disappointed to learn of the planned change of the route for the 2008 Whidbey Island Marathon (News-Times, Jan. 12).

As a proud finisher of the 2007 marathon, I thought that the section of the race from Scenic Heights to Coupeville was one of the most scenic and (except for the pain!) enjoyable parts of the race. I admit to loving the feeling of being treated like a “hometown hero” by the citizens of Coupeville as I crossed the finish line in Town Park.

I have to agree with DOT officials and marathon organizers, however, that the portion of the course that runs on Highway 20 between San de Fuca and Madrona Way is simply too narrow, and too busy, to be safe for mid-packers like me without closing the road. Since that section is at the 23-mile point of the race, the road would have to be closed for about five hours to allow for the time between the leader to the last runner.

I am confident that the changes to the route will make the course much safer for the participants, while still maintaining the race’s reputation as one of the most scenic and challenging marathons in the world.

I plan to say “thank you” to everyone who made the marathon such a memorable event for me by volunteering to return the favor to next year’s runners.

The Whidbey Island Marathon is second only to Race Week as our premier sporting event. All islanders should be proud to host and participate in such an outstanding race, even if it won’t cover quite as much of the island this year!

Ross Wilhelm

Oak Harbor

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