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Runners dance to finish

Coupeville’s Town Park resembled a middle school dance Sunday.

But the green area above Penn Cove wasn’t draped with crepe paper decorations. No adults chaperoned the punch bowl to prevent it from being contaminated with illicit beverages.

Instead, the park hosted the finish line for Whidbey Island’s fourth marathon.

Differentiating between middle school dances and marathons sounds straight forward. But the two share a remarkable number of identifying marks.

At each, heat drafts from goose-pimpled flesh, chests heave and muscles twitch. People move awkwardly and look confused. Lycra figures prominently in ensembles.

The only missing items were corsages, high heels and cummerbunds.

And sweat.

Kids at middle school dances pour sweat. Marathoners do too. But sweat doesn’t remain liquid for long. Salt from wind-evaporated perspiration crusted runners’ faces.

Chuck Engle, returning two-time winner from Clinton, Miss., came in second with a time of 2 hours, 52 minutes, 49 seconds.

First to cross the finish line was Matthew Sims. The Langley runner won with a time of 2:48:43

Sims said he never expected to win.

“I went in with the goal of having a good training run,” he said as he changed shoes and put on warm clothes.

Sims said the relaxed atmosphere of this marathon helped him win.

“Everyone’s very supportive and friendly,” he said.

Before the race began, he chatted with people from eight states – that’s unusual for marathons, he explained. At most starting lines, masses of intense people don’t chat.

Engle agreed with Sims’ assessment of the race.

“It’s a beautiful, wonderful course, and challenging,” he said.

“And it’s great to see so many people out on cold, windy day,” he added.

The scenery compelled Engle to come out of retirement.

He stopped running Jan. 2, after he won the Mobile, Ala, marathon.

But he couldn’t resist the beautiful route.

“After Mobile, I told my wife I would spend weekends with her,” he said.

His wife bronzed his running shoes. But he couldn’t overcome the pull of Whidbey.

“John Kaiser (racer organizer) kept sending me e-mails and photos and I couldn’t resist coming,” Engle said.

Only in the last few days had he interrupted his retirement luxury of eating Doritos and drinking good wine to train.

Whidbey Island marathon’s course won’t tolerate a slack fitness regimen.

“You can’t fake fit on this course,” Engle said.

At about mile 15, on Oak Harbor’s waterfront, cramps hit Engle.

The self-described “pain junkie” decided to back off.

“I decided finishing at least in the top five would be fine,” Engle said.

“He told me to go for it,” Sims said. He said he’d been running faster and faster. Engle’s pat on the back sent him running for first.

Sims won’t use his win as an excuse to skip runs. He’d be out at 5 a.m. Monday for his regular run.

“I have a marvelous, merciless group of training partners,” he said.

Annie Theisan of Tacoma won the women’s full marathon at 3:11:12.

Half Marathon winners were Cindy Price of Naperville, Ill. (1:30:20) and Rick Becker of Selah (1:15:21).

Be serious

Experienced marathon runners concentrate as their shoes cover the 26.2 miles. Their eyes focus far in the distance and their strides become fluid. They pace themselves. But not everyone disappears into a zone.

Some scan the crowd for familiar faces.

Some joke with the observers and other runners.

Some wear patterned tights shot with wild colors.

After crossing the finish line, everyone turns lighthearted.

Daniel Ellis met his sister Rachel at the finish line with a wheelchair

Rachel Ellis traveled from Portland, Ore., for her first half-marathon. Daniel came along as her support crew.

He discovered the wheelchair in an abandoned shed. After scraping out mounds of woodchips and discarding a dead rat, he ran the chair for four miles to reach the finish line.

“I knew she could do it, but knew she’d be hurting,” Daniel said as he pushed his sister away in the purloined conveyance.

Rough terrain

Describing Whidbey Island’s marathon calls for a study of soap opera titles. Switch a word and you get a good idea of the route.

Another Life — Another Hill.

Passions — Blisters

The Young and the Restless — The Young and the Limping.

No adaptation needed for “The Bold and the Beautiful.”

Many people remarked on the beauty and diversity of life they saw along the way. And everyone noticed the hills.

“It was tough, I liked it,” Kevin Evans of Edmonds said after coming in fourth in the full marathon.

Anthony Cantwell of Portland, Ore., plans to return.

“It was very hard. I liked it,” he said.

Women’s marathon winner Ann Thiessen also liked the scenery. The Tacoma runner said she preferred the descent to the ascent.

Craig Layman of Seattle usually competes in trail runs so he has experience with scenery.

“This has the best views,” he said.

The tough route surprised 1st Lt. Ben Frederick. He usually runs around the Mariner’s Cove area so he’s familiar with hills.

“It was harder than I thought but it was a great course,” Frederick said.

Frederick has completed four marathons. This was his first in the area.

His roommate, 1st Lt. Rob McDougall, completed his first marathon Sunday.

“I feel great. It’s a beautiful place to run,” McDougall said at the finish line.

The Marine Corps pilots plan on competing in more marathons. But Whidbey may be their first, and last, in the area. The Marines are training to fly EA-6B Prowlers at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.

Soon, they will transfer from VAQ-129 to a Marine Corps base at Cherry Point, N.C.

Both said they hope to compete in the Marine Corps marathon in the fall in Washington, D. C.

While most people finished the marathon in good form, a few wouldn’t be needed as extras in “The Bold and the Beautiful.”

In fact, they could find immediate jobs as patients in “General Hospital.”

Experienced marathon runners concentrate as their shoes cover the 26.2 miles. Their eyes focus far in the distance and their strides become fluid. They pace themselves. But not everyone disappears into a zone.

Some scan the crowd for familiar faces.

Some joke with the observers and other runners.

Some wear patterned tights shot with wild colors.

After crossing the finish line, everyone turns lighthearted.

Daniel Ellis met his sister Rachel at the finish line with a wheelchair

Rachel Ellis traveled from Portland, Ore., for her first half-marathon. Daniel came along as her support crew.

He discovered the wheelchair in an abandoned shed. After scraping out mounds of woodchips and discarding a dead rat, he ran the chair for four miles to reach the finish line.

“I knew she could do it, but knew she’d be hurting,” Daniel said as he pushed his sister away in the purloined conveyance.

Comments on terrain

Describing Whidbey Island’s marathon calls for a study of soap opera titles. Switch a word and you get a good idea of the route.

Another Life — Another Hill.

Passions — Blisters

The Young and the Restless — The Young and the Limping.

No adaption needed for “The Bold and the Beautiful.”

Many people remarked on the beauty and diversity of life they saw along the way. And everyone noticed the hills.

“It was tough, I liked it,” Kevin Evans of Edmonds said after coming in fourth in the full marathon.

Anthony Cantwell of Portland, Ore., plans to return.

“It was very hard. I liked it,” he said.

Women’s marathon winner Ann Thiessen also liked the scenery. The Tacoma runner said she preferred the descent to the ascent.

Craig Layman of Seattle usually competes in trail runs so he has experience with scenery.

“This has the best views,” he said.

The tough route surprised 1st Lt. Ben Frederick. He usually runs around the Mariner’s Cove area so he’s familiar with hills.

“It was harder than I thought but it was a great course,” Frederick said.

Frederick has completed four marathons. This was his first in the area.

His roommate, 1st Lt. Rob McDougall, completed his first marathon Sunday.

“I feel great. It’s a beautiful place to run,” McDougall said at the finish line.

The Marine Corps pilots plan on competing in more marathons. But Whidbey may be their first, and last, in the area. The Marines are training to fly EA-6B Prowlers at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.

Soon, they will transfer from VAQ-129 to a Marine Corps base at Cherry Point, N.C.

Both said they hope to compete in the Marine Corps marathon in the fall in Washington, D. C.

While most people finished the marathon in good form, a few wouldn’t be needed as extras in “The Bold and the Beautiful.”

In fact, they could find immediate jobs as patients in “General Hospital.”

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