By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Mike James, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Whidbey Island
OAK HARBOR, Wash. (NNS) -- More than 220 active duty military members participated in the Whidbey Island Marathon in Oak Harbor, April 15.
Approximately 40 active service members from around the northwest region competed in the full-marathon, 130 for the half-marathon, and 50 were volunteers.
Many retired military, Reservists and military family members also raced and volunteered.
Cryptologic Technician (Collection) 1st Class Matt Strauss, assigned to Naval Information Operations Command (NIOC) at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island said he had only been training for a few weeks but ran the half-marathon as a way to challenge his personal fitness goals.
"I was really surprised at how many people came to show support, and the weather was good, so it was a fun race," said Strauss.
This year's race is the 11th iteration of the marathon and regularly draws runners from around the world. This year there were nearly 1,800 competitors and 500 volunteers.
The 26.2 mile marathon began at Pass Lake, north of Deception Pass and ended at Wind Jammer Park in Oak Harbor, while the 13.2 mile half-marathon began and ended at Wind Jammer Park.
Brad Sandefur, Fitness Instructor at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island Gym and Fitness Center, leads a running club with about 30 runners that ran either the half or full marathon. The runners in his club reflect a broad spectrum of runners from first-timers to experienced veterans that run 10-20 events a year.
"I have done this race every year since 2005; we consider it our home race on our home course, so we try the best we can at it," said Sandefur. "It's a good local event and is well supported every year I've done it."
Tamra Sipes, Whidbey Island Marathon race director for the third year in a row said, "We have always had a great relationship with the military on the island. We appreciate their participation and couldn't have done it without them."
The first-place finishers for the half-marathon were Joseph Gray of Newcastle, Wash. with a time of 1:09:25 for the men and Kristi Houk of Port Orchard, Wash. with a time of 1:25:00 for the women.
The first place finishers for the full-marathon were Tahoma Khalsa of Seattle with a time of 2:40:15 for the men and Kristen Carter of Bellingham, Wash. with a time of 3:01:31.
Fitness is one of the key elements of the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative which consolidates a set of objectives and policies, new and existing, to maximize Sailor and Marine personal readiness, build resiliency and hone the most combat-effective force in the history of the Department of the Navy.