Marathon questions need answers

More than a week after the running of the seventh annual Natures Path Whidbey Island Marathon on April 13, race officials are still in the process of getting things sorted out.

Some questions need to be answered such as what went wrong with the route and why a person who was not even entered in the event passed himself off as being the winner of the men’s half marathon.

Race director John Kaiser said he found out that a police officer, who was directing traffic at the intersection Heller Street and Swantown Road, sent the lead motorcycle the wrong way and this was the reason some of the half marathon runners went in the opposite direction.

“I don’t know why the police officer did this,” Kaiser said. “There were cones on the right side of the road down Swantown Road and I’m not sure why he directed the man riding the Goldwing motorcycle the other way where there weren’t any cones. This is something we are going to have to look into.”

Fortunately, the greatest majority of the half marathon runners went the right way, but the confusion could cause a problem in creating the route for next year’s event.

“The course needs to be recertified every time because it is a Boston Marathon qualifying event,” Kaiser said. “The problem is the Washington Department of Transportation knows about the confusion and the problems we had, and they might have some questions for us next year that will need to be answered.”

The second major question was why a man who said his name was Michael Connelly from Seattle entered Wildcat Memorial Stadium at the head of the half marathon pack, completed his three-quarter lap around the track before he crossed the finish line, and declared himself the winner.

Connelly was interviewed and he related he was a first-time runner, how much he enjoyed the course despite being hilly, and that he would be running in the event again.

“We are going to try and contact him, if we can, and find out what is going on,” Kaiser said. “This is something we are going to have to deal with if it should ever happen again.”

Race officials later determined that Connelly was not entered in the race, and the men’s half marathon winner was Jim Elwell from Issaquah.

Final results are in and officials determined that approximately 2,000 people completed the event.

Locally, the Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island Marathon Club and Average Joe’s Training Club of Oak Harbor had 22 participants. Four of them competed in the full marathon and 18 ran in the half marathon portion of the race.

Local finishers included Denise Patterson from Oak Harbor, who finished third in the women’s full marathon and second in her age division, and Josh Dix, also from Oak Harbor, who finished 18th in the men’s marathon and first in the 15- to-19-year-old age group.

Oak Harbor’s Derek Solum was 22nd overall in the men’s marathon and second among the 35- to-39-year-olds, and Dale Folkestad from Coupeville who placed second in the 55- to-59-year-old age group.

Bryce Hoefer from Oak Harbor was ninth in the half marathon and first in his 15- to-19-year-old age group, and Armando Montoya was 23rd in the half marathon and first among 20- to-24-year-olds.

Coupeville’s Julie Bolles placed third in the women’s 30- to-34-year-old half marathon division, and Debbie Gallo from Oak Harbor was second in the half marathon’s 50- to-54-year-old age group.

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