Sports

Get ready for Whidbey Marathon

The eighth running of the Whidbey Island Marathon will take place March 29 and now is the time to train for or consider volunteering for this annual event.

Last year’s event drew more that 3,500 participants, and race organizers are expecting an even larger tournout in 2009.

The new course, featuring the Oak Harbor waterfront and Saratoga Passage views promises to be bigger than ever.

This year, the Washington Department of Transportation has given approval once again for using the Deception Pass bridge as a part of the marathon course.

The full marathon run will begin at 7:30 a.m. from the Deception Pass State Park at State Route 20 and Rosario Road.

Due to time restrictions on road closures, only runners may participate in the full marathon.

Both runners and walkers may participate in the half marathon.

The half marathon run begins at 8 a.m. on Heller Street, adjacent to Wildcat Memorial Stadium, and the half marathon walk begins at 8:05 a.m. from the same location.

The half marathon course is completely new in 2009. The run/walk half marathon will start on Heller Street next to the stadium as in 2008, but the course is being revised to include the Oak Harbor waterfront and much of the full marathon course that travels along Saratoga Passage to Penn Cove.

All races will end at Windjammer Park in downtown Oak Harbor.

As in past years, motorcycle riders from Chapter I of the Gold Wing Touring Association will escort the event to insure the safety of runners

The Expo, packet pickup and registration, will be held from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday, March 28, at Oak Harbor High School.

There is limited parking at the marathon start and shuttle busses will be provided at the high school for marathon runners.

Marathon participants should plan to park at either Oak Harbor High School or the Hillcrest Elementary School on Heller Street and catch the shuttle bus.

Half-marathon participants will not require a shuttle as the start will be next to the high school. At the conclusion of the race, shuttle busses will be provided to transport participants from Windjammer Park back to the high school.

All marathon and half-marathon finishers will receive custom designed medals. The participants of all events will receive custom-designed shirts commemorating their accomplishment.

Age group awards will be given to the top three male and female finishers in 5-year age groups from under 20 to 70 plus.

Registration fees

Full marathon run

$70 — Through Nov. 30.

$80 — Dec. 1 through Jan. 31, 2009.

$90 — Feb. 1 through March 24.

$105 — At Expo, March 28.

Half marathon run or walk

$50 — Through Nov. 30.

$60 — Dec. 1 through Jan. 31, 2009.

$70 — Feb. 1 through March 24.

$85 — At Expo, March 28.

For more information on either becoming a participant or a race volunteer, visit www.whidbeyislandmarathon.com.

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