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'The last quarter-mile was grueling': Bellingham man wins 8.8K run in 32 minutes 27 seconds

Top photo: R.B. Wick of Bellingham is alone and in the lead in the Friday Harbor 8.8K Loop Run, Aug. 21 in Friday Harbor. He finished the 5.4-mile course in 32:27. Second photo: Ross Lockwood (182) finished the 8.8K Loop Run with a time of 38:17, first among men age 45-49. He’s followed by Gaylene Donner (116), who finished in 38:42 to take first among women. Third photo: Clark Gilbert sprinted ahead of his training partner John Pachuta at the finish line. Bottom photo: Robyn Roberts (153) holds off a challenger to finish second in the 15-19 age division.     - Scott Rasmussen
Top photo: R.B. Wick of Bellingham is alone and in the lead in the Friday Harbor 8.8K Loop Run, Aug. 21 in Friday Harbor. He finished the 5.4-mile course in 32:27. Second photo: Ross Lockwood (182) finished the 8.8K Loop Run with a time of 38:17, first among men age 45-49. He’s followed by Gaylene Donner (116), who finished in 38:42 to take first among women. Third photo: Clark Gilbert sprinted ahead of his training partner John Pachuta at the finish line. Bottom photo: Robyn Roberts (153) holds off a challenger to finish second in the 15-19 age division.
— image credit: Scott Rasmussen

R.B. Wick took off running from Garrison Bay not knowing what kind of shape he’d be in, even if he did make it to the starting line on time.

As it turns out, a little blast of adrenaline may have been just what he needed. The 23-year-old Bellingham native had more than enough fuel in the tank to outpace the rest of the field in the 33rd annual 8.8K Loop Run Saturday in Friday Harbor.

A former long-distance runner at the community college level, Wick wrested the lead from Friday Harbor’s Wilson Schubert about halfway into the run and completed the 5.4-mile course in 32 minutes 27 seconds — two-and-a-half minutes shy of the course record set two years ago by Costa Mesa’s Derek DeCiccio.

“There were more hills than I expected,” Wick said. “The last quarter-mile was really grueling.”

Schubert, 18, credits Wick, clad in a pumpkin-orange T-shirt and black shorts, for setting a pace that helped him to slay his 2009 time by almost a full 5 minutes.

“It’s a huge improvement from last year,” Schubert said of his 33:06 finish. “It’s nice to have a big orange target out in front of you to shoot for.”

Jordan Harris, 15, finished at 35:44 and third overall in the men’s field.

In the women’s field, veteran Loop runner Gaylene Donner, 49, of Newcastle finished the course in 38:42 to take first place. Friday Harbor’s Susan Stehn and Irina Bell crossed the finish line at 40:17 and 41:03, respectively, to finish second and third overall.

Clara Brand, a Friday Harbor High School senior, took first in the 15-19 age bracket with a time of 45:13.

About 220 runners and walkers took part in this year’s Loop Run, presented by Island Rec but one of the marquee events of the San Juan County Fair. That’s roughly the same number of entries of a year ago. And they were greeted by sunny skies, mild temperatures and a cool breeze that together proved ideal for the run, trot or walk around the knob of San Juan Island known as Turn and Pear points.

San Juan County Prosecuting Attorney Randall K. Gaylord proved formidable again. At 37:40, Gaylord finished sixth overall and first among men 50-54.

Friday Harbor's Ross Lockwood crossed the finish line in 38:17, first among 45-49 men.

Derrekk Buffum of Lopez Island completed the course in 40:42, tops in the men's 15-19 category.

Though a competitive run for many, not everyone frets about time. In fact, Ruthie Ramirez took time to smell the flowers and chat with friends along the way, and still, with a time of 1:42:36, finished ahead of everyone else in her age bracket.

"I get it, that it's a race," said Ramirez, 80. "But I'm very social."

Clocking in at 58:55, Friday Harbor's Bobby Warren, 78, took top honors among men 75 and over for the second straight year.

Friday Harbor's Brad Pillow finished ahead of everyone else in his age bracket for the first time in 29 consecutive Loop Run appearances. Pillow, 61, finished first among men age 60-64, with a time 1:24:13. Fellow long-time loop runner Teresa DeGraff shattered the 1-hour mark and crossed the finish line at 51:18. Friday Harbor's Marty Robinson tallied a 50:37 mark to finish first among women 60-64.

Though dominated by two-legged runners, no one look more fresh and alive at the finish line than Molly, a 4-year-old Australian border collie making her first-ever appearance in the 8.8K run. And run and run and run, she did, said owner Teresa Strong, who braved the 5.4-mile course after a 20-year absence.

With Molly slightly out in front, the running mates crossed the finish line together in a respectable 1:11:53.

"This is her first real long run," Strong said. "And she zig-zagged the whole way."

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