This is part of a series of posts from my quest to run a half marathon in all 50 states. Washington was my 28th state.
Around 20,000 runners typically compete in the Seattle Rock-n-Roll Marathon and Half Marathon in a given year. By comparison, there are typically 200 total runners (or less) in the San Juan Island Marathon/Half Marathon/10K. Being a person who likes to take the road less-traveled, I chose the San Juan Island Half Marathon for my half marathon in Washington. In 2011, San Juan Island was ranked #3 in their 10 Best Summer Trips list. San Juan Island, along with other adjacent islands Orcas, Lopez, and Shaw are accessible by a ferry from Seattle. This ferry ride just may be the most scenic ferry you’ve ever been on, and don’t be surprised if you see porpoises along the way!
The race director said this about the course on the Facebook page: “You are about to be treated to what has to be among the most scenic courses in the country if not the world. If you’ve run enough of these, you’ll know scenic=hills and there are plenty! Foxes, deer, eagles, seals, hawks, owls, Orca whales, hump back whales are some of the wildlife available on this course.” He was right about the hills. There were very few stretches of flat course but he was also right about it being a scenic course. This race ranks up there in my top 10 most scenic half marathons, for sure.
Even though this race was hillier and more difficult than the Knoxville course in Tennessee- Covenant Health Knoxville Half Marathon, Tennessee- 27th state, the fact that it was so scenic made up for all of the hills. Most of the course was on back country quiet roads, past meadows, an alpaca farm, and along roads with views of the ocean. As is typical for a small low-key race, there were almost no spectators on the course.
When I finished, I received a small, simple medal and then looked around for the water and post-race food. As I mentioned earlier, this is a small race so although I didn’t expect a lot of extras here, I did at least expect some bottled water and fruit. But I couldn’t find any food at all- no bananas or water even. It’s possible it was there and I just wasn’t looking in the right spot, or maybe it was a locally-known thing and all of the locals just assumed everyone else knew where the food was. No big deal. Not a deal breaker for me.
My finish time was 2:07:24.
For things to see and do in San Juan Island, there’s whale-watching, hiking in Lime Kiln Point State Park, kayaking so you can see the porpoises up-close, or you can visit a lavender farm. There are loads of cabins available to rent which will give you a more authentic feel for the island. I remember watching deer eat in the fields behind our cabin every morning and every evening at dusk. It was also nice to have my own kitchen especially the morning of the race so I could eat what I wanted, when I wanted and only had to walk a few feet to get it (once I bought it at the grocery store the night before of course).