For the second year in a row, Dillon Quintana of Deming proved he’s one of the best long-distance runners in Whatcom County by winning the Chuckanut Foot Race.
Quintana, a graduate of Mount Baker High School, where he won a cross country state title in 2012, improved his time from 38 minutes and 16 seconds last year to 37:46.2 this year. He said his strategy was to progress 5-10 seconds each mile.
“I blasted it at California Street, and that’s where I dropped the group,” Quintana said. “But it was super good. I’m super happy. It’s always fun to come out here.”
Quintana is a senior at Gonzaga University and has one year of cross country eligibility left.
David Larpenteur was left in Quintana’s wake but still finished second in 39:12.7. He does triathlons and has been doing more swimming and biking recently. He was happy with a top-three finish.
“I started really fast, but those hills really catch up to you,” Larpenteur said. “Luckily, the last mile is downhill so that helped. I kinda cruised in.”
Third place was claimed by recent Sehome High graduate Colton Johnsen, who finished in 39:23.2. Johnsen said he didn’t think there was much he could have done differently to catch the leaders.
“I pushed it to catch up to David, but then he pushed it, too,” Johnsen said.
Women’s winner Alma McMurtry of Lynden is a familiar face in the Chuckanut Footrace as well. Last year, McMurtry finished second with a time of 47:12.2. This year, her 46:32.4 was good for the top spot by almost four minutes. She was so far ahead that when her shoelace came untied on mile five, she contemplated tying it.
“Sometimes, if it’s a longer race, you have time to tie it, but I just took my chances,” McMurtry said, adding she runs the race every year and feels like she’s slowly getting faster. “Once you get used to the course, you know when to push yourself. California Street can be deadly. You feel like you’re walking up it.”
Marissa Hielkema, another runner from Lynden, looked a little woozy as she crossed the finish line second with a time of 50:16.4. After sitting down and drinking water, she explained why.
“I just think I went a little too hard,” Hielkema said. “I got a little competitive. I just wanted to give it my best effort.”
Hielkema attended Lynden Christian High and is now a junior at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich. The Chuckanut Foot Race was her first big race when she was 13.
Twenty seconds after Hielkema finished, Lindsay Mann-King crossed the finish line at Larrabee State Park and was surprised to hear she placed third. Like most serious participants, she treated this race as a warmup for events later in the year.
“It’s kind of a pacing, training run,” Mann-King said. “It was a nice day as far as temperature goes, and the course is obviously beautiful as well.”