Sports

Our Big Fat Sports Weekend: San Juan Island Celebrity Golf Classic Friday, Saturday; San Juan Island Marathon Sunday

Celebrities golfing in the annual San Juan Island classic include, from top, four-time World Series pitcher Jeff Nelson, KING 5 sports reporter Lisa Gangel, and U.W. football Hall of Famer Sonny Sixkiller.    - Contributed photos
Celebrities golfing in the annual San Juan Island classic include, from top, four-time World Series pitcher Jeff Nelson, KING 5 sports reporter Lisa Gangel, and U.W. football Hall of Famer Sonny Sixkiller.
— image credit: Contributed photos

This weekend’s art, music and outdoor events comprise the island’s Summer Kickoff Weekend, as promoted by the San Juan Island Chamber of Commerce.

But consider just the sports events, and this weekend could be called San Juan Island’s Big Fat Sports Weekend.

The Kenmore Air Express San Juan Island Celebrity Golf Classic is Friday and Saturday.

The San Juan Island Marathon and Half-Marathon is Sunday (We goofed on the date last week. Our apologies. On the bright side, you’ve got an extra day to get those lungs and hamstrings ready.)

The golf classic begins Friday at 4 p.m. with a pro-am race, followed by a celebrity party at Haley’s Bait Shop & Grill.

On Saturday, the golf classic takes place with shotgun starts at 7:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. The salmon barbecue is at 6 p.m. The Friday Harbor High School Jazz Band will perform during dinner. Chairman Pat O’Day said the entertainment will include “a couple of little surprises.”

In the clubhouse, you can bid on items donated by the celebrities, as well as by island businesses, non-profits and residents.

This year’s headliners are four-time World Series pitcher Jeff Nelson, U.W. football Hall of Famer Sonny Sixkiller, KING-5 Weekend Sports anchor Lisa Gangel, and Seahawks defensive end Patrick Kerney.

Others in the celebrity lineup include Pat Cashman, Emmy award-winning actor, comedian and writer; Chip Hanauer, hydroplane racing Hall of Famer; filmmaker Warren Miller; hydroplane racers Brian Perkins and Kayleigh Perkins; Bob Rivers of Seattle rock station KZOK-FM; Ron and Don of KIRO newsradio’s Ron & Don Show; Paul Skansi, retired Seahawks wide receiver; and Alan White, drummer for Yes.

Each year, the event raises more than $40,000 for numerous island non-profits, among them the Animal Protection Society, Boy Scout Troop 90, Compass Health San Juan Island, Family Resource Center, Friday Harbor High School Band, Lighthouse Preschool, Mullis Community Senior Center, Paideia School, Purple & Gold, San Juan Historical Society, and Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation.

Other highlights:

— Islanders Bank is sponsoring a $1,000 Longest Putt Contest at the eighth hole.

— Islanders Bank is also hosting a “snack and watering hole” tent between the seventh hole and the eighth tee, replete with barbecue, oysters and a full bar.

— Bill Graves and Ed Perry of San Juan Seafoods are once again donating 500 pounds of Alaska king salmon for the barbecue.

To sign up to play or to buy salmon dinner tickets, call Becki Day, 378-9519.

Marathon on Sunday
The seventh annual San Juan Island Marathon and Half-Marathon get under way Sunday at 8:30 a.m. at the San Juan County Fairgrounds.

The event also features a children’s “marathon,” in which participants run the last 1.2 miles of the course and receive a commemorative T-shirt and a medal.

The 26.2-mile course is certified by USA Track and Field and runners can qualify for the prestigious Boston Marathon or the U.S. Olympic Trials based on their finish time. For most, however, the odds of achieving a “personal best” are slim on the local course.

Co-organizer Clark Gilbert said the popularity of the San Juan marathon has grown in large part because of its scenery, not its terrain.

The course features peaks and valleys, rolling hills, and climbs in elevation from 25 feet to over 250 feet above sea level. The hills are what first-timers generally remember the most, he said.

“There’s two things people definitely know about it now,” Gilbert said. “One, that it’s a beautiful course, and two, that it’s a challenge.”

Despite the hills, Orcas Island’s Randy Gaylord, a veteran marathoner, said the course, which includes a stretch of road along the west side of the island that overlook Haro Strait, is unmatched in terms of its scenery.

Gaylord will participate in a 30-mile run in Bellingham on Friday, then return to San Juan to run the half-marathon the following day.

“In terms of sheer beauty, it ranks right up there with the most scenic runs I’ve ever been on,” Gaylord said. “It’s one of the hilliest and that makes it hard to reach a personal best. But for those people comfortable with a hilly race, it’s just a great run.”

Not everyone, islanders in particular, worry about the time clock.

For Carol Capps and friends, it’s all about camaraderie, staying fit and having fun. They train for the half-marathon all year long.

As they did a year ago, Capps and several members of the Friday Harbor Walkers — who adopt the name “Friday Harbor Hoofers” for the day — are gearing up for that 13.1-mile walk across the island.

“It’s our goal for the year,” Capps said. “It’s beautiful. It really is a beautiful course and you see so much more when you’re walking than when you’re driving in a car. But it’s hilly, and, believe it or not, that’s always a surprise.”

Big Sports Weekend
— Friday: Kenmore Air Express San Juan Island Celebrity Golf Classic Pro-Am, 4 p.m., San Juan Golf and Country Club. Call 378-9519.

— Saturday: Kenmore Air Express San Juan Island Celebrity Golf Classic, 7:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., San Juan Golf and Country Club. Call 378-9519.

— Sunday: San Juan Island Marathon and Half-Marathon, 8:30 a.m., San Juan County Fairgrounds.

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