San Juan Island Marathon
June 8, 2003
Race Report by Bob Dolphin
Running the inaugural San Juan Island Marathon seemed like a great idea, so I signed up for the June 8, 2003, event. It had been years since my wife Lenore or I had visited San Juan Island, and we welcomed the opportunity to return so that I could run what promised to be a scenic marathon.
On the ferry ride from Anacortes, WA, to Friday Harbor, the main town of San Juan Island, other islands of the San Juan Island group were passed.......adding interest to the ride. The time spent on the ferry went by quickly as we chatted with Martin Rudow, editor/publisher of the popular Northwest Runner Magazine, and his wife Judy.
From the ferry dock it was a short drive to race headquarters at the County Fairgrounds. The packet pickup/expo was in a pavilion building, and the start/finish area was nearby. Lenore and I enjoyed meeting Clark McAlpine, the race director, and some of his committee. For several years we had
corresponded with Clark, so we were pleased to meet him in person. One of his assistants, Paul Hopkins, had run the YAKIMA RIVER CANYON MARATHON on April 5, 2003, so we had that connection as well.
We stayed at the States Inn, a delightful Bed and Breakfast near Roche Harbor. It was a peaceful setting there.....away from television and telephones. We could watch the owners' horses in a pasture, bees in a garden, rufous hummingbirds, pine siskins and other birdlife at feeders.
We drove the marathon loop course which followed the two lane paved roads and found that it provided a good sampling of the island's beauty. However, there were a lot of hills, so I concluded that I should walk some of the steepest grades during the race.
At the pasta dinner at a restaurant in Friday Harbor, we were fortunate to be seated with our "adopted" grandson Mike Dutton, his four year old son Miles, and his parents, Merwyn and Cathy Dutton from Mt. Vernon. Also, at the table were Pete Hansen, winner of the 2002 Birch Bay Marathon, and Jack and Gunhild Swanson from Spokane. There was good conversation to go with the good food at the meal.
On race morning we awoke early to make the 7:00 a.m. start of the marathon. Warm weather was forecast, so I welcomed this early starting time. The skies were overcast, and the air temperature was in the 50's.
As the timer started the race, over 225 runners of the combined marathon/half marathon field left the fairgrounds. We went to Friday Harbor and then ran to rolling, open farmland with pastures and scattered dwellings. In the fifth mile at an aid station and road junction, the marathoners went on one road, and the half marathoners on the other. Unfortunately, some runners turned incorrectly and ran several miles before learning they were on the wrong course. Pete Hansen has the distinction of running the first "ultramarathon" on San Juan Island. His wrong turn gave him a 50K race ins
tead of the usual 26.2 miles!
Leaving the agricultural land, we entered rolling coniferous forest with steeper hills and small lakes (some rimmed with yellow iris). Ocean spray shrubs along the roadside had whitish flowers that contrasted with the dark green of the douglas firs. The runners had spread out, so I ran alone for the most part and appreciated the spectator support at the many aid stations. Many of the friendly and helpful volunteers were members of the race sponsor, Community Arts and Theatre Society (C-A-T-S). Water, sports drink, fruit, and snacks were in plentiful supply every two miles.
At the halfway mark a 2:16:00 was not encouraging. I wasn't sure that I could finish in five hours, but I was enjoying the surroundings. In a mile or so, I left the forest behind and ran on an open bluff overlooking Haro Strait several hundred feet below. There was a variety of boats, but no orca whales were in sight. I enjoyed the masses of orange California poppies that grew on the slopes.
The course eventually left the seaside and topped a major hill that presented a nice view of the fields of San Juan Valley and Mount Baker on the mainland. A nice, long, downhill run took us to a gravel side road to the False Bay Tide Flats. This was used as an out-and-back segment.
A treat of the day was to have my friend Don Lang, 68, of Glendale, CA, stop me on the out-and-back run so that he and I could be photographed together. Don was running his 336th marathon and is the West Coast leader for megamarathoning. His friend who took the pictures was Michael Dorfstaetter, 39, of Austria. Michael is a 2:30 marathoner and could have easily won the event. However, he chose to run with his friend instead for six hours of fellowship. Previously, they had run two marathons together in Europe.
Heading for the finish area once again, the course undulated, and the temperature rose to the low 70's as the skies cleared. I doused my head to stay cool and became preoccupied with running a sub 4:30. Every time I thought I had a chance at one, a leg cramp appeared or another hill would come
into view. I finally reached Friday Harbor, found the last hill, the finish line and Lenore all in quick succession and stopped my watch at 4:28:52.....my second best time of the year and my 4th sub 4:30. I finished in 49th position of 84 finishers and was the only one in the 70-74M division.
There was a "big reunion" on the 11:10 ferry back to Anacortes Monday morning. Martin Rudow and Lenore gathered together about twenty people who had participated in the races the previous day for a group picture. Again, time went by quickly on the ferry ride as we discussed the events of an exciting weekend at another inaugural marathon.
When Clark McAlpine and his committee set a date for 2004, we'll make arrangements to return. It was a great adventure......a marathon I want to keep on my race calendar.
Written by Bob Dolphin
Partial Results............San Juan Island Marathon
1. 2:49:53 Michael Brisbois, 39, Redmond, WA, 1st 35-59M
2. 3:02:42 Jeff Haas, 37, Kent, WA, 2nd 35-39M
3. 3:18:45 Ammon Gilbert, 22, Arcata, CA, 1st 20-24M
4. 3:19:30 Ross Lockwood, 39, Friday Harbor, WA, 3rd 35-39M
5. 3:21:45 Steven Yee, 43, Renton, WA, 1st 40-44M
1F. 3:23:35 Emily Mullen, 23, Seattle, WA, 1st 20-24F
2F. 3:29:42 Alfreda Iglehart, 53, Los Angeles, CA, 1st 50-54F
3F. 3:42:13 Kevette Smargiassi, 40, Auburn, WA, 1st 40-44F
4F. 3:47:39 Maria Aiello, 32, Normandy Park, WA, 1st 45-49F
5F. 3:48:11 Gunhild Swanson, 58, Spokane, WA, 1st 55-59F
3:43:31 Michael Dutton, 33, Everett, WA, 4th 30-34M
3:53:21 Pete Hansen, 46, Ferndale, WA, 1st 45-49M
4:23:57 Sharon Carroll, 60, Liberty Lake, WA, 1st 60-64F
4:28:05 Chuck Carlson, 51, Kent, WA, 3rd 50-54M
4:28:52 Bob Dolphin, 73, Renton, WA, 1st 70-74M
4:31:45 David Zeretzke, 55, Friday Harbor, WA, 3rd 55-59M
4:56:11 Jack Swanson, 69, Spokane, WA, 1st 65-69M
4:59:00 Richard Andrews, 59, Mukilteo, WA, 4th 55-59M
6:07:54 Michael Dorfstaetter, 39, Austria
6:07:54 Donald Lang, 68, Glendale, CA, 2nd 65-69M
5th Overall - 1:35:00 Larry Carroll, 63, Liberty Lake, WA, 1st 60-64M
2:13:42 Sue Fauerbach, 56, Renton, WA, 2nd 55-59F
3:10:52 Alice Leprell, 48, Gig Harbor, WA