Runners take to roads

A little rain in the forecast won’t dampen the turnout for the fourth annual Whidbey Island Marathon and Half Marathon.

A record 2,000 racers are anticipated to hit the roads between North Whidbey and Coupeville tomorrow, April 10.

“It’s gotten bigger and bigger every year,” race director Brian Oster said. “We’re really excited about that.”

Although rainy weather is likely, Oster doesn’t think it will affect the competitors.

“It’s the Pacific Northwest, you can’t be concerned with the rain,” he said. “For the runners themselves, it’s actually not a bad thing — they stay cool.”

The full marathon, which will have nearly 300 racers, begins at 8 a.m. at the Cornet Bay Marina. Runners continue along the outskirts of North Whidbey, turning onto Ducken Road and continuing through the countryside to Crescent Harbor Road. The 26.2 mile course continues to Regatta Drive, along the Oak Harbor waterfront, to Scenic Heights Road. Racers briefly enter onto Highway 20 off Holbrook Road, before turning onto Madrona Way and ending at Town Park in Coupeville.

The half marathon, which will have approximately 1,700 competitors, starts at 8:30 a.m. at Olympic View Elementary.

Because of the high number of half marathon competitors, Regatta Drive will remain closed from Olympic View to Pioneer Way approximately 30 to 40 minutes, until the road is cleared.

This year the Whidbey Marathon will have 28 states represented and racers from Mexico and Canada.

Chuck Engle, a two-time defending champion from Clinton, Miss., will also make his way back to Whidbey.

Engle has nothing but good things to say about the race on the marathon’s official Web site.

“After running Los Angeles, Boston and Chicago in the same year.... I have one word that keeps echoing in my mind, ‘Whidbey’ ” he said. “Nothing more scenic, challenging and invigorating.”

Oster couldn’t agree more with Engle and thinks the popularity of the marathon will continue to grow each year for one reason alone — its uniqueness.

“We like to say that this is the most scenic marathon and half marathon in the United States,” he said.

Proceeds from the marathon go to support Whidbey Animal’s Improvement Foundation.

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