Editorial: Oak Harbor’s own marathon

The marathon events taking place in Oak Harbor this weekend are rather unique in that the event owner is in fact the city of Oak Harbor. Most such events are run by independent entities, some for profit and some nonprofit,  but not a lot are owned by the government.

Locally, the Coupeville Arts and Crafts Festival is owned by the Coupeville Festival Association, not the town of Coupeville. The Choochokam Festival of the Arts in Langley is similarly operated by a nonprofit entity.

On a larger scale, private businesses sometimes claim the name of a town, such as the Everett Aquasox or Seattle Seahawks. Typically, taxpayers or people on the public payroll are not substantially involved in producing such events. The one big  exception we can think of is the Green Bay Packers, the legendary NFL team that is community-owned and nonprofit.

How about that, Oak Harbor and Green Bay have something in common. And Oak Harbor’s marathon has been deemed in the top 10 nationally by a prestigious running magazine, so maybe someday we’ll win the Super Bowl of marathons, if such an event should materialize.

But more realistically, it would be better in the long run for the city of Oak Harbor to get out of the marathon business, as long as its future here is assured. It’s technically called the Whidbey Island Marathon  and the island is home to many devout runners who double as successful business men and women with the skills needed to stage a major event.

Mayor Jim Slowik made a bold move a few years ago to purchase the marathon when it looked like it might disappear. After all, it does fill up motel rooms and boost business for restaurants and shops.  But it’s time to turn it over to a nonprofit group with a real interest in running and a determination to make the Whidbey Island Marathon the best in the USA, with participation from throughout the island.

Meanwhile, city employees can spend more time planning the city’s future and less time getting ready for the marathon.




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