Nearly 150 dedicated runners are registered for the 42nd Annual Birch Bay Marathon and 25K run that sets off this Sunday on the shores of Birch Bay. Starting and ending at Birch Bay State Park, the marathon starts at 8 a.m. with the 25k run getting underway a half-hour later. This is a substantial increase from last year, which had just over 100 runners for both events.
Forecasters are calling for sunny weather at a relatively balmy 51 degrees which should make for fast times on the mostly flat course. The marathon is certified as a Boston Marathon qualifier so spectators can expect to see some fleet-footed runners looking to get some good times. One person they’ll see is Jim Pearson, the founder of the race who has won the race an incredible 15 times. His course record is 2:26:26, just nine seconds slower than the course record set a year earlier by Matt Yeo in 1978. His son, Joel, who now organizes the race, won it in 2005 at the age of 19 with a time of 2:49:41.
Cory Jenkins, 21, set the male 25k record in 2009 with a time of 1:30:06. Jodi Brautaset, 33, turned in a time of 1:55:17.
Organizers describe the course as “generally flat to very gently rolling, with the exception of a very short steep climb (10 meters in 200 meters) at the start of Harborview Road, and a long gradual climb (100 meters in 1.5 km) around miles 5 to 6. Most of the course lies on the waterfront, with expansive views over the water towards the mountains of Canada, the Gulf Islands and the San Juan Islands, or passes through heavily forested areas sparsely dotted with luxurious homes. The road surface is smoothly paved and flat to very lightly curved.”
Runners can register on the day of the race; the marathon costs $70 while the 25k is $35. The race crew has promised a new timing system and more aid stations. For more information, go to www.birchbaymarathon.com