Fort Ebey Kettles Marathon Race Report – Alicia Jenkins

Race: Fort Ebey Kettles Trail Marathon

Runner: Alicia Jenkins

Race Date: 02/20/2021

Location: Fort Ebey State Park, Whidbey Island, WA


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fort ebey kettles race report

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

1. I loved how well it was marked! This course has A LOT of turns and switch backs. Whenever you were coming close to a turn there was flagging on the side where you were turning, there was also a sign with an arrow pointing the way you were supposed to go and once you made the turn just ahead there was always another confidence ribbon to ensure you were on the right path.

2. The course was BEAUTIFUL!! It starts on a bluff overlooking the sound and then takes you through beautiful trails in the trees before you come back out to run along the bluff again.

3. Great course for people new to trail running and seasoned trail runners with multiple distances to choose from. There is a 5k, 10k, half marathon, and marathon option.

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

Only thing that I didn’t like was that everyone’s GPS watches had them running a shorter distance than the actual distance since the course had so many turns and a lot of it was in the beautiful but DENSE forest which affected GPS. It made it look like you were running slower then you actually were which was tough for me mentally and caused me to push a little harder than I might on my first loop of the marathon course.

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

The highlight was getting to be at a race again and see many of my running friends I hadn’t seen in awhile!! There was a marathon and a half marathon on the day I ran and the marathoners ran the half marathon loop 2 times. There were wave starts due to COVID precautions and the marathoners started before the half marathoners. On the first loop I was pretty much alone the entire time save for the first 1 mile. Once I started the 2nd loop many of the half marathoners had started in their waves and I started catching up to some of them. I ran into a few of my running friends that gave me a much needed boost of energy towards the end.

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

It’s good to know before hand that your GPS watch will record a distance shorter than what it actually is. If you run the half marathon you will most likely get anywhere from 11-12 miles on your GPS watch for the 13.1 miles and if you run the marathon your GPS watch will show you anywhere from 22.9-24.5 miles. Go in knowing that your GPS watch pace will most likely be off while running the route so best to just focus on your rate of perceived exertion.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

If you’re doing the marathon take the first loop a little easier and save some energy for the 2nd loop!

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

This course has a decent amount of “sneaky” vert in it. The marathon course has ~5500 feet of gain. I would say the route is semi-technical (depends on what you are used to running though and it might feel REALLY technical if you don’t normally run on trails or it might feel less technical if you are used to running on technical terrain).

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

OH MY GOSH, YES!! This course is BEAUTIFUL!!! Starting on the bluff by the sound and then taking you all through the Kettles trails in the dense forest. Sections you feel like you are in a tunnel of trees and then sections where you are running on the bluff with the sound right next to you!

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

I would say it is a “medium” level course. It’s tough in the fact that on paper it doesn’t look too tough but like I mentioned before some of those sneaky climbs get you.

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

VERY organized and VERY well run. The race directors and volunteers knew what they were doing!

Competition – Is there a strong field?

I would say it isn’t a super competitive field but it always depends on who shows up to race day! You never know 🙂

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.

You can usually register online up until the day before and can usually register day of as well.

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

2 aid stations along the course and they were very well run even with all the COVID precautions required. They had prepackaged food that was delicious!!

Weather and typical race conditions

Weather in February in Washington State can vary. It could be a beautiful day, like it was on the day I ran, with sunshine OR it could be really rainy, windy, cold. I would say prepare for rain and when it doesn’t rain you’ll be extra thankful!

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

Nothing special needed for this race.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

It is a friendly course for spectators. Especially if you are doing the marathon route your friends and family will get to see you at the start and then before you head out for your 2nd loop. Since the course starts on the bluff it is a great place for friends and spectators to hang out and wait and watch. It is also an old Fort so you can see where guns used to be and tunnels, etc. Very fun place to explore. There are also road crossings where your family and friends can drive to and wait for you to cross to cheer you on.

How’s the Swag?

Decent. End of the race every racer got a medal. If you wanted a t-shirt or hoodie you could purchase one.

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

5/5 Stars! It’s a good race to start off the year with. Beautiful course and well organized.

Alicia Jenkins is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about her or to work with Coach Alicia, check out her coaching page.

fort ebey kettles race report