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Thousands expected for Whidbey marathon
The Whidbey Island Marathon has gained popularity by leaps and bounds, which means residents can expect a whole lot of steely-legged runners crisscrossing the island this Sunday.
Organizers are cautioning drivers to take it slow this weekend and avoid certain areas, if possible.
Oak Harbor resident Tamra Sipes, organizer of the event, said it would be wise to avoid Deception Pass Bridge on Sunday morning. The bridge will be closed from 7:10 a.m. for the 7:15 a.m. start of the full marathon. The bridge reopens to traffic at approximately 7:45 a.m.
Undoubtedly, the bridge closure as well as the hundreds of participants will likely clog things up beyond those times.
In addition, Regatta Drive, Midway Boulevard and Pioneer Way in Oak Harbor will be closed from 8 to 9 a.m. Beeksma Drive will be closed all day Sunday.
About twice as many people will be running in the different races that make up the city-owned marathon, as opposed to last year, said Sipes. The marathon’s reputation as a well-run event in spectacular surroundings lured about 3,300 participants from 42 states, six countries and two unincorporated U.S. territories.
“We’re at the max,” she said. “We hit the 2,000 mark for the half, but we’ll still take a few registrations at the Expo.”
So many runners are coming that local accommodations are stressed. Some Oak Harbor residents have opened their homes in a “Host a Runner” effort. Even retirement homes are offering beds, Sipes said.
Still, the influx of runners, who tend to be affluent, has a huge and positive impact on the city, economically speaking, Sipes said.