Deception Pass Trail Marathon Race Report – Mark Droge

Race: Deception Pass Trail Marathon

Runner: Mark Droge

Race Date: 04/10/2021

Location: Whidbey Island, WA

Results: About 5:27ish

Strava Activity Link:

deception pass trail marathon race report
Photo: Mark Droge

3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?

  1. Exceptionally scenic, Puget Sound, forests, lakes, shorelines.
  2. The other runners, great comradeship and supportive.
  3. Aid stations, stocked to the gills.

Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you

Thought could have been more ribbons marking some portions of path. Had to stop and check to see if still on course about 4 times. Twice had missed a turn, one a clearly marked one, and another where we were to go off path across a grass area without a hint of off path other than ribbons 30 yards from path divergence. (those added about a mile to my Marathon)

Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?

Aid stations were placed at loop intersections, so spacing was odd. First at 6.75, 13.25, 17,18.25, 21.25 and 23. But it worked out to not need to stop at all aid stations, so was fine.

Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?

For me this race was the first in over a year, first trail race ever. A training race towards a 50 miler later in the year. I handled the vertical well and am coming to judge when to run and when to hike much better. I enjoyed the scenery and trail conditions. The trails definitely had their technical areas, but there was probably less roots, rocks for 50% of run than I have at Cougar Mountain.

Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner

The weather at the starting line may not be what the rest of the race will be like. Very exposed to wind on the beach starting line (was very windy my race). Gather what you need for fuel at only one of the close together aid stations and you can reduce your stops to four. Be alert and watch carefully for trail markers.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

Just because I can cut loose and fly on downhills doesn’t make it a good idea for overall effort. Keep “trying” to learn to go easy first half, so second half won’t be about survival. Also, need to keep a closer eye on hydration and fueling, realized I was starting to fall behind just over half way through.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

This course is up and down, no real long vertical sections, but very little flats to run. Keep an eye out for trail markers.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

GORGEOUS course. Probably the thing I liked best! Straits of Juan De Fuca, lakes, forest, shoreline, ya kinda get it all. Sorry, no mountains…

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

Being my first trail marathon, don’t have much to compare. I am guessing, since trail was mostly single track, maybe 50% had a lot of roots and rocks, probably a bit more difficult than an average trail run. (also not many level sections at all)

Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?

Well oiled. A+++ considering the need for Covid precautions they nailed it!!!

Competition – Is there a strong field?

Only 69 participants for Marathon, so some very strong runners, but the full spectrum participated (which I liked a lot).

Logistics – Does it require a special handshake, registration a year in advance, hotels all booked? Give us the low down on the nuts and bolts of making the race happen.

Easiest to arrive the night before race and hole up in a hotel or whatever you fancy.

Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?

Aid stations were very well stocked with Tailwind, Spring energy gels and food galore, from PBJ, pickles, many fruit items, candy…

Weather and typical race conditions

This year was 40 degrees at start with very windy conditions, believe the wind chill took it to about 30 degrees. Gale force winds pounded the race’s starting position. Was about 50 and sunny by finish. Don’t let the winds at the start line make you think it is going to stay cold, after about the first mile you get into the woods and lose the wind, heading to the lee side of the island. The wind also hits you hard from the side as you cross Deception Pass bridge.

Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next runner?

Wore a Tee shirt and shorts. Was real glad I had picked up a pair of sleeves for this race. Helped keep me warm at start and easily stowed by mile 7…

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

There are a few parks that this course takes you through, so in places can have spectators.

How’s the Swag?

Gaiter and medal.

The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?


deception pass trail marathon race report
Photo: Jenny Droge