Oak Harbor owns annual marathon

The city of Oak Harbor is the new, proud owner of the Whidbey Island Marathon.

Now that the deal’s signed, city officials are busily preparing for next year’s run, scheduled for April 11, 2010. John Kaiser, founder and previous owner of the Whidbey Island Marathon, will stay onboard to help the city with the transition.

According to city officials, the $50,000 price tag includes Kaiser’s role as marathon consultant. Kaiser will be paid in four installments, $13,000 each for the first two payments and then $12,000 each for the last two.

The sales price includes the name Whidbey Island Marathon, all rights and all assets of the event in addition to a non-compete clause with Kaiser.

Since the marathon’s inception in April 2001, the annual event has grown to a size that requires exhaustive year-long planning for only one person, Kaiser said. The race lured more than 1,600 runners to the island this year, many of whom rented rooms, bought meals and otherwise pumped up the economy.

“I’m retired and I’d like to take some time off and do some traveling,” Kaiser told the News-Times in July shortly after the council announced its intent to purchase the event.

Bob Smithson, former Oak Harbor School District athletic director, will serve as event coordinator and receive $1,200 per month through April 2010 for his services.

“It worked out well,” Smithson said of the deal. “It gives me something to do and it’s a service to the city.”

The coordinator will organize the event expo, seek advertising, secure donations, find volunteer help and act as a liaison between city officials and Pro-Motion Events Inc., an event management company that Kaiser formerly hired to organize the marathon for eight of its nine years.

“I’ll be doing the grunt work,” Smithson joked.

In all seriousness, he’s excited to help with next year’s run that will also include a 5K race to encourage family participation.

“We’re not going to make big changes the first time out of the block,” he said.

The city will maintain a relationship with Pro-Motion, although contract negotiations are still under way.

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