Running And Riding On Whidbey

This weekend, July 15th and 16th, is Ragnar, a run and a race that starts dozens of miles north of Whidbey on the mainland, steers over to the island via Deception Pass Bridge, winds through Oak Harbor, past Coupeville and Greenbank and Freeland to end at Langley. A great way to get aerobic, as long as you don’t hurt yourself. Enjoy those endorphins. As big of an event as it is, it isn’t alone. Whidbey Island hosts more such events than will be listed here, but here are a few to give an idea of what’s available.

Why pick Whidbey? 

It isn’t all flat, or straight. Its hills aren’t mountains. Some of it is urban. Some of it is rural. Some of it is what it is. We don’t have major stadiums. There aren’t any national professional teams that come with public facilities. 

Why pick Whidbey? 

It can be gorgeous, and that’s a handy distraction when you’re working out for hours. A pause to take a break can be excused as a pause to enjoy the scenery. The weather is less likely to be extreme, thanks to being surrounded by the Salish Sea and downwind of the Olympics’ rain shadow. It isn’t the mainland, so there’s less traffic. Runners and cyclists are more welcome. When you’re done there are plenty of massage therapists, yoga opportunities, brewpubs, wineries, distilleries, restaurants, B&Bs, hotels, and generally opportunities to unwind, relax, and begin recuperating.

Ragnar is running. Chum Run isn’t as long, but it went by less than a month ago. So did the Whidbey Island Marathon back in April. The same is true with the appealingly named Sea, Trees, & Pie Bike Ride just a short while ago. Throw in bicycling and swimming and get ready for the Whidbey Island Triathlon July 23rd. Race The Reserve is another run on August that includes a 5K, a 10K, and a half-marathon. 

Whidbey Island has so many runs, rides, races, and similar events that there’s no one time to list them all that doesn’t include at least one that just happened recently. Even January 2nd is too late because January 1st has Polar Bear swims (but without the bears.)

A bicyclist asked about moving here and whether they’d be able to find routes for training. The island may not have the Alps, but there are a few steep hills that climb a few hundred feet, and Mt. Erie isn’t far away on the next island over (Fidalgo Island). Steer off the main roads and find quieter long stretches for speed work. See Bicycling Whidbey Island for a bit more description and a link to the bicycle map, which can also be handy for runners. 

As usual, maps change as routes change. It is becoming easier to reach from the ferries to the bridge by using routes, paths, and lanes. Contact Washington State Parks for maps, as well as the County’s Parks and Recreation Districts (North Whidbey, South Whidbey.) But also as usual, the best bets are probably found by finding other runners and riders, sporting good stores and bike shops, or simply watching which way the pedestrian powered people are making progress. Cyclists on the ferry may know what you need to know.

Check the pools and lakes for swimming, kayaking, sailing, and rowing opportunities as well as this big bunch of water called the Pacific Ocean.

This post has less to do with the individual events because they change, especially during these changing times. This post is a reminder that for folks who want to move their bodies under their own power Whidbey Island can seem like an enormous gym set in wonderful scenery and at least a bit more quiet than the Big City.

Nothing to do on Whidbey? Get in shape! It is an excuse for that massage and a beer – maybe after a shower and some time in a spa.

PS Even if you aren’t running or riding in an event, it is handy to know about them so you’re not surprised with having the share the road.

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