Time was running out for Justin Roberts, so he figured it was time to start running.
When Roberts, a naval flight officer with VQ-1, moved to Whidbey Island in 2013, he heard of folks taking Sunday drives or motorcycle rides down the length of the island to experience its natural beauty. Roberts figured the scenery would be even more spectacular if viewed while on foot.
“In the summer of 2014 I began thinking about running down the island,” Roberts said. “It became a bucket list item.”
Roberts started training for the run two-and-a-half months ago so he could complete the dream before moving to Maryland May 20.
At 6 a.m. Saturday, May 6, Roberts began just north of the Deception Pass Bridge (“So I could say I ran across the bridge.”), and he reached the southern tip of Whidbey Island, a run of 56.1 miles, in eight hours and 25 minutes. He took an indirect route, running along West Beach and Madrona Way, for example, to make the run more scenic.
He was accompanied by Team JRob, his support group of wife Andrea and sons Jackson, 6, and Grayson, 3.
Running long distances is nothing new for Roberts, 34.
The Midwest native took up running during his time as a member of an ROTC unit at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, in 2010.
“There was a high incentive to do well in the physical fitness tests, so I started running to get into shape,” he said. “I found out I really liked to run.”
By doing well on his fitness tests, Roberts was granted permission to work out on his own. A poor test resulted in required PT training at 5 a.m. three days a week.
Roberts has competed in several marathons and one ultra run.
In the ultra run, Roberts covered 82.5 miles as part of a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.
When not training for a big run, Roberts “generally runs six miles a day, four or five days a week,” he said.
So far this year he has logged over 550 miles, much covered while training for the Whidbey run. A week before heading down Whidbey, he ran 31 miles from LaConner, through Anacortes and up to Deception Pass.
Another item on is bucket list is to run the Boston Marathon.
“I have qualified for it twice in the past but never bought into it,” he said. “Now that I am going to be living on the East Coast, I would actually like to do it.”