Weather cooperates for successful marathon

Early leaders in the marathon grab refreshments on the fly at the water station on Dike Road between mile posts six and seven. - Tim Adams/Whidbey News-Times
Early leaders in the marathon grab refreshments on the fly at the water station on Dike Road between mile posts six and seven.
— image credit: Tim Adams/Whidbey News-Times

Steady rain Saturday night and into early Sunday morning could have made the Eighth Annual Nature’s Path Whidbey Island Marathon one of the most miserable on record.

However, the skies brightened just before the 7:30 a.m. start of the race and the weather held for the remainder of the day making the event a pleasant one with cool temperatures and minimal wind.

More than 1,900 runners participated in the race, with approximately 350 entered in the full 26-plus mile run and the remainder taking part in the half marathon run or walk.

With road construction work completed, the start of the full marathon was moved back to its original location on Highway 20 and Rosario Road north of the Deception Pass Bridge. The half marathon stepped off at 8 a.m. from the Heller Street location near Wildcat Memorial Stadium.

This year, the finish line for both races was changed and now the event concludes at Windjammer Park in downtown Oak Harbor.

As always, the Whidbey Island Marathon is a true community event, with more than 500 volunteers from various community-service organizations, law enforcement and local citizens working together to make the race a successful one.

Among the community-service groups assisting were the Gold Wing Motorcycle Club, the Whidbey Island Amateur Radio Club and the local Lions Clubs.

Chris Barton, a member of the amateur radio club, was directing communications at water station number three on Dike Road between mile post six and seven.

“There are approximately 40 members of the club working today making sure everything goes smoothly,” he said.

Water station number three was a busy place during the early part of the full marathon with appropriate rock music including “Footloose,” “Born to Run,” and “Danger Zone,” blaring from a boom box to encourage and stimulate the runners as they stopped for Gatorade or water.

Manned by members of the Impaired Driving Impact Panel of Island County, the group has handled water station number three since the running of the first marathon.

Headed by executive director Jo Hellmann, the mission of IDIPIC is to deter driving under the influence and underage drinking in our communities through education and awareness, and dressed in costumes ranging from a judge to a coroner. The costumed group hammered that message home during the race.

Included with the group were Sabrina Underwood, dressed as a nurse who is a school teacher, computer technician John Hellmann dressed as a coroner, WSDOT worker Kathryn Rogers, Jo Hellmann, dressed in a striped jail jumpsuit and attorney Lecilia Welch in the robes of a judge.

“This is one time I get to be a judge,” Welch said with a smile.

All members of the group are Oak Harbor residents with the exception of Rogers, who works for WSDOT and lives in Greenbank.

“We had a couple others including our grim reaper, Debra Kulz, who were sick and she couldn’t be here today,” Jo Hellmann said.

Later in the morning, Kulz and her daughter, Shelby, who is a freshman at Coupeville High School, arrived to assist as the water station got even busier with the arrival of the bulk of the marathon runners.

Windjammer Park was packed with volunteers, friends of the competitors and just plain folks who got up early to watch runners finish the race.

Volunteers were not just from the Oak Harbor/Whidbey Island area, but from all over the Northwest.

One of the volunteers working at the finish line was Lorihan McLean, who is stationed at Fort Lewis.

“I have some friends running in the race so we came up to watch them and I ended up being a volunteer,” she said. “I’m having a lot of fun.”

Another finish line volunteer was Pete Hecht from California, who said he is stationed at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.

“I volunteered for the race last year and I’ve also done other volunteer things with WAIF,” he said.

WAIF, the Whidbey Island Animal Improvement Foundation, and Return to Freedom, the American Wild Horse Sanctuary, are two of the event’s beneficiaries.

Just over an hour from the start of the half marathon, Corey Duquette from Bremerton was the first to cross the finish line.

Duquette, a member of the Navy stationed aboard the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln based in Everett, had a winning time of 1:09.39.

“I’ve run in three marathons before, but this is the first half marathon for me,” he said. “The course was a lot more difficult than I thought it would be. The first half of the race is real flat but in the last half, when you’re tired, it bites you. There are some giant hills and you are constantly going up.”

Andy Wyman, an Oak Harbor dentist, was the first local runner to reach Windjammer Park, crossing the finish line in third place.

“This was the first Whidbey Marathon I’ve run in and it was great,” he said. “It was a little windy at times, but the weather was nice and sunny.”

Nikki Gamble from Kirkland, was the first female half marathoner to finish, crossing the line in a time of 1:29.16

In the full marathon, Dublin’s Chuck Engle was the men’s winner in a time of 2:40.37, and Jenny Horstman from Seattle won the women’s half of the race in a time of 3:07.38

Wyman, like the majority of the other runners, said they will be back.

“I’m sure I’ll run in it next year,” he said.

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