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Race raises funds for Marines, honors Maj. McClung
It was a very good day to run a race and Windjammer Park in Oak Harbor was a very good locale for the sixth annual Maj. Megan McClung Memorial Run held last Saturday.
Fog hung over the water of Crescent Harbor as 148 runners lined up, the first group departing for the 10K run, the second group leaving two minutes later for the 5K run or walk.
While this was the sixth annual memorial run, it was the first time the event was held in downtown. Previous races have been held on Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. The change in venue had an effect on the event - entries were down by 77 from the previous year - but there were several repeat runners, like Connor Meyer, 18, a three-time veteran of the 5K.
“I like the cause and it’s a good excuse to be able to run and compete,” Meyer said.
That cause is two-fold: To raise money for the Semper Fi fund, a nonprofit organization that provides assistance to wounded Marines and other members of the armed forces injured in support of Marine forces; and to celebrate the life and service of Maj. Megan McClung, who was the first female Marine officer killed in action in Iraq. Her parents, Mike and Re McClung, are Coupeville residents who wanted to create an event Megan would have enjoyed. Those who knew her say the memorial run would have been right up her alley.
“Celebrating her life and watching her legacy continue in person is heartwarming,” said Debbie McKinley, who met Megan at the U.S. Naval Academy. McKinley came from Atlanta to participate in the 10K.
“Fitness, fun, community - this is so Megan,” said McKinley.
“Megan was a good friend,” said Navy Cmdr. John Duenas, who was there to run the 5K with his wife, Pam, and their three children, Ysa, 8 (and a half), Lucas, 6, and Timothy, three months.
“It’s a great way to support our soldiers, sailors and Marines,” he said. “Plus it gets us out of the house.”
“I like to run and do sports and stuff,” said Ysa. “And I want to support Dad’s classmates and all the troops who sacrificed for our freedom.”
Carol Hoffman, who spent 27 years in the Navy, came from Poulsbo to walk the 5K with her Black Lab, Roxy.
“I came up to celebrate her life and her sacrifice,” she said
This was the first time Dorothy Waite, 62, had ever participated in an event like this. Her granddaughters, Isobel, 7, and Ivy, 4, were waiting at the finish line with signs reading “You’re my hero” and “Run-Nana-Run.”
“I saw somebody talking about going from the couch to a 5K in eight weeks,” she said. “I’ve been running about 12 weeks now and just thought I should do it.”
“I think I’m good for at least one more,” joked Charles Pelletire, who came from Kenmore to take part in the run for the sixth time.
Jim Otruba has also participated in the memorial run all six years. But this is the first time he’s ever run the 10K.
“I thought I was running the 5K, but then I discovered I was wearing a number for the 10K,” he laughed. “I plan on running the half marathon when they start that.”
“It is our intent to move up to a half marathon next year,” Mike McClung told the crowd gathered for the awards ceremony.
Awards were presented to the top three finishers in all age divisions and runners under 12 years of age were given participation ribbons. In the end, the top three overall finishers in the 5K run or walk were James Steller, Meyer and Alexandra Laiblin. The top three spots for the 10K run went to Mark Cook, Brannon Mucke and Dylan Beyer, respectively.
Special prizes were also awarded. Brennan Mucke and Tasha Westinghouse each won a non-complimentary entry into the Marine Corps Marathon in Arlington, Vir., in October. Tickets to that event sold out in under three hours. Catherine Davis, from Sammish Island, won the opportunity to drive a 2012 Porsche for the weekend from Roger Jobs Motors in Bellingham, one of the race sponsors.