Opinion

Marathon: It’s back to the future | Editorial

Sunday’s Whidbey Island Marathon is taking a welcome step back in time, which simultaneously signifies a bright future for the event.

Tomorrow, nearly 2,000 participants will enjoy one of the most spectacular marathon beginnings that can be imagined: They’ll get to run across the historic Deception Pass Bridge with its stunning views of Whidbey Island bluffs and beaches, Skagit Bay to the east, swirling waters below and the endless western view of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, which leads directly to the Pacific Ocean.

For a number of years, due apparently to insufficient planning and communicating, the beautiful bridge was off limits to the runners. The race started in the Cornet Bay area, which of course is beautiful, but not nearly as awe inspiring as crossing the 180-foot high bridge over lovely waters. The Whidbey Island Marathon is already considered one of the best and the reintroduction of the bridge to the route will keep it high on the list of “must do” runs for hundreds of participants from throughout the U.S., Canada and other parts of the world.

New marathon manager Tamra Sipes deserves credit for the bridge success, along with the Washington State Department of Transportation, which was willing to listen and close the bridge for a short time while marathoners fill the two lanes on their way to Oak Harbor.

The marathon has grown over the years to consume the entire weekend with events. Today, there is a five-kilometer run/walk and tomorrow there is a half marathon as well as a full, 26-mile marathon. The place to be today is The Expo, running from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at North Whidbey Middle School. Runners sign in there, while townsfolk can meet the participants and peruse wares on display by numerous vendors.

The Whidbey Island Marathon is unique in that it is owned by the city, saved by the efforts of former Mayor Jim Slowik and others, so it’s an event we can truthfully call our own. It fills up hotel rooms and restaurant tables throughout the island, and inspires kids to take up a healthy, life-long sport. To have the bridge back is icing on the cake.

 

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