Sports

Folkestad keeps Whidbey Marathon string alive

The 10th Annual Whidbey Island Marathon takes place this weekend, and the race has seen some changes over the years – different courses, different dates, different prizes – but one thing has been constant, Dale Folkestad.

Coupeville’s Folkestad has competed in all nine Whidbey Marathons and is not sure if there are any others who have run the 26-mile race each year.

“If I am the only one,” he said, “I’m going to keep doing it; it is unique to me.”

Folkestad said, however, if he finds others who have also taken part in every one, he will pass the baton and let them continue the string.

He said with a laugh, “I am not sure if I want to train for it any more.”

The Navy brought Folkestad, 58, to Whidbey Island, and he began running after taking a jogging course from Skagit Valley College in 1989.

He has run a number of races of varied distances over the years and ran his first marathon in St. George, Utah, in 1995, then another in Minnesota and “has kept running them since.”

He said running is a “brotherhood thing,” and that he and Jim Boer have been running together for “18-to-20 years.” Over time the pair added Keith Jameson, Fran Einterez and John Fish to their training sessions to form their Kickin’ Mules Running Club.

Folkestad works at the Oak Harbor Post Office and tries to run each day during his lunch break, and the group tries to run together every Saturday.

One thing that makes it easier to take the time to train, he said, is “the great support of my wife.”

“The thrill of running,” Folkestad said, “is the people you meet. I’m a yakker and will talk to anyone.”  He says striking up conversations with other marathoners helps to melt the miles away.

The current Whidbey Marathon course is scenic but difficult. He said getting to train on Whidbey trails and roads certainly “helps you get ready for it.” Folkestad, however, doesn’t care for the latest route. He dislikes doubling back over several portions of the course and preferred the old course that ran along Madrona Way and ended in Coupeville.

“It used to be a truly Whidbey marathon and incorporated more of the island. Now it is more of an Oak Harbor marathon.”

In Folkestad’s early running days he thought about running in a marathon and wondered “if I could do it.”  Now that he has started, he wonders if he can stop.

“What else am I going to do?”

Whidbey Marathon

The annual Whidbey marathon, half marathon and 5K fun run/walk hit the Island roads April 9 and 10.

The 5k fun run/walk starts at 9 a.m. at Flintstone Park Saturday, April 9, followed by the Event Expo at North Whidbey Middle school from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m.

Sunday, April 10, the marathon starts at 7:30 a.m. from Cornet Bay and the half marathon at 8 from North Whidbey Middle School. Half marathon walkers begin at 8:05.

Visit www.whidbeyislandmarathon.com for more information.

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