The ninth annual running of the trails on Vashon Island brought back memories of the 1970s in more ways than one last weekend at the Vashon Ultramaration & Trail Run.
Each aid station at the 5-, 15- and 25-mile marks had a 70’s theme, tended by the “Dancing Queens” in their flashy outfits, complete with a disco ball, a Jell-o mold and music — just the right atmosphere to keep runners’ enthusiasm up in the heat of the day while running a 50K marathon (31 miles).
The atmosphere brought on flashbacks for “Red Lantern” award winner Bob Norton, 80, as he began his ultra running career over 40 years ago in that era. At the finish line, Norton was run in by the Dancing Queens, as he ran under the finish banner and the Red Lantern. This was the second year that Norton returned to claim the award (even though he ran seven minutes faster this year), which is named after the red lantern that hung on the last train car back in the old days. On the other end of the train, Seattleite Richard Lockwood schooled everyone in the lesson of how to win a 50K race. Lockwood got off work at 7:30 p.m. Friday, bicycled out to the island with his tent to camp and rode back home after winning the 50K in 3:49:25.
The top female runner this year was Vashon-raised Christine Mosley in 4:27:03, a personal best on the course for her. The top Vashon female was Meghan Ahearn in 5:06:29, while the top Vashon male finisher was John Payne in 4:37. The youngest finisher in the 50K was 19-year-old-islander Christopher Walker, setting a personal best in 4:52:02. Runner Markus Graf came all the way from Vienna, Austria, hitchhiking to his camping spot from the north-end ferry and finished sixth overall in 4:44:34.
In the popular 10-mile trail run, 119 runners finished the forested trail loop that begins at the Open Space and passes by Dragon’s Head Cider, Mukai and Fisher Ponds and Island Center Forest. That race was won by Dave Scheibel in 1:10:39 and Eliza Ramsey from Seattle, who set a new course record for women, in 1:19:47. Local Land Trust employees Zoe Marzluff and Keller Cyra were the first islanders across the line in 1:28:43 and 1:16:16 respectively.
For Keller Cyra, the ultra was a family affair, as he was joined by race producers Lisa and Eva Cyra, Bruce Cyra on the stopwatch and brother Aidan of Bellingham, who ran a personal best to finish fourth in 1:14:19 just ahead of Keller.
The Dancing Queens at the aid station were joined by Jay Blackburn, who after finishing the 10-mile in seventh place, went out to help and found himself costumed by the Queens — Tara Vanselow, Kathleen Farrell and Meredith Wells. The course trails were expertly prepared by volunteers, King County Parks and the Vashon-Maury Island Land Trust. At the finish, runners relaxed under sunny skies while enjoying delicious food and drink, welcoming in their trail tribe, relating their stories and planning their next trail run.
Next year’s 50K and 10-mile events will mark the 10th annual race and will also be held on the first Saturday of June.