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 says 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 is right about the hills. There were very few stretches of flat course but he is also right about it being a scenic course. This race ranks up there in my top 10 most scenic half marathons, for sure.
As I mentioned earlier, this is a small race so don’t expect a lot of extras here. There also aren’t many spectators along the course, but there are plenty of cool things to look at along the way such as alpacas, meadows, and ocean views. When I finished, I couldn’t find any food at all- no bananas or water even, but it’s possible it was there and I just wasn’t looking in the right spot.
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’s also nice to have your own kitchen especially the morning of a race so you can eat what you want, when you want and only have to walk a few feet to get it.
From my post-race notes, “Even more hilly than Knoxville course Covenant Health Knoxville Half Marathon, Tennessee- 27th state. Was extremely scenic, however. Ran along meadows, back country roads, past an alpaca farm, and along roads with views of the ocean. Not many spectators on the course. Medal and shirt were both OK but nothing special. Didn’t see any post-race beverages or food at all but maybe I just couldn’t find it. Hardly anyone stayed after the race. Aid stations were average but nothing special. Weather was perfect. Very low-key small race. Finished in 2:07.”