San Juan Island Marathon and Half Marathon

Today was race day on San Juan Island! The annual San Juan Island Marathon and Half Marathon began at the fairgrounds in Friday Harbor and I decided to join the pack. I thought the half little exercise. The gun sounded at 8:30 am, and everyone took off down Argyle Street into downtown Friday Harbor. We must have been quite the spectacle for curious tourists who were just stepping outside to grab some breakfast. The runners included hardcore, muscled marathoners, joggers dressed in Hawaiian hula skirts and everyone in between. I qualified as an in-betweener, just ready to have fun and use the beautiful scenery as a way to distract myself from the pain that was sure to develop in my legs.

The first five miles followed San Juan road, a quiet road surrounded by miles of open pastoral land. A faint scent of manure floated in the air as I ran by a pasture with some grazing cows. On an up-hill leg, I noticed a quaint blue house with alpacas in the front yard! This was quite a different experience than my last race that took place on the city streets of Denver. As we turned onto Wold Road, thickly wooded forests enclosed around us. Every couple of miles, families that had camped out to cheer on the runners offered us water, Gatorade, and the occasional slice of orange.

After a killer uphill on mile six, we reached Pelindaba Lavendar Farm. Fields of lavender sprawled out before us. Although the lavender hadn’t bloomed yet, I made a mental note to stop by here later in the summer when a sea of purple was sure to emerge. Around mile 8, the marathoners split off to the right, following a route that would lead them to the west side of the island, the spot where Outdoor Odysseys goes sea kayaking in the San Juan Islands. I was curious to know if the marathonerswould end up seeing Orca whales along the coast, but the downhill prospect of Bailer Hill Road was, at the moment, more appealing than having to run 13 extra miles.

The finish line in front of the San Juan County Fairgrounds

Finally, I passed the island’s small airport, turned onto Argyle, and used my last ounces of energy to run up the steep hill that led to the finish line. Yes! Not only did I achieve a personal best in the race, but I also got a tour of some of the gorgeous countryside of San Juan Island. Maybe next year I’ll even run the full marathon. Maybe…

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