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Friday, May 14, 2021

Chuckanut Foot Race celebrates 50 races running

With summer underway, participants from Whatcom County and beyond laced their running shoes for the 50th annual Chuckanut Foot Race on Saturday, July 9.

Among the nearly 500 runners in this year’s race was Dillon Quintana, 21, of Deming, Washington who took first place in the men’s portion for the second year in a row. Quintana beat his time of 38 minutes and 16 seconds last year to a notable improvement of 0:37:46:2 this year.

“It was a lot faster this year, it seemed. The little detour that we had last year wasn’t annoying or anything, but it had a lot more turns and this one was just straight and go,” Quintana said.

With second and third place finishes were David Larpenteur and Colton Johnsen.

First place in the women’s portion was Alma McMurtry, 36, of Lynden, Washington. Second and third was earned by Marissa Hielkema and Lindsay Mann-King. McMurtry shaved time off of her second place record from last year and she was pleasantly surprised by her winning time of 0:46:32.4, she said.

“I actually don’t think I’ve ever won the race, I think I would always get second,” McMurtry said.

“It was a lot faster this year, it seemed. The little detour that we had last year wasn’t annoying or anything, but it had a lot more turns and this one was just straight and go.”

Dillon Quintana

McMurtry faced a  challenge by the hills on California Street when her shoelace became untied on mile five. McMurtry pushed on without stopping and finished nearly four minutes ahead of the other top female finishers.

Other foot race participants achieved new personal bests like Cindy Louws of Bellingham, Washington, who finished the race with a time of 1:07:04, beating her husband, Jack Louws, by over two minutes.

The Louws started running in their 40s to improve their health. Today, nearly two decades later, they sign up for races and train together when they can.

“I can’t keep up anymore. She’s faster than me,” Jack Louws said.

The Louws enjoyed the race. “This [event] is community; it’s a great natural asset we have with the mountains and the water, and Bellingham is just blessed with a lot of trails and I think it motivates people to be active.”

The Chuckanut Foot Race has a reputation for the beauty of its scenic route. Becky Berhow of Phoenix, Arizona researched races in the area and traveled up specifically for this event.

“I actually planned my vacation around this race,” Berhow said. “[I] wanted to take my mom on a vacation and so we chose Bellingham just for the beautiful scenery. I just looked up ‘are there any fun races coming up,’ and then just worked around this weekend.”

Whether individuals ran as a part of training or to explore the scenery of Bellingham, the Chuckanut Foot Race continues to pull in members of the running community year after year, contributing 50 years of summer fun.

Editor’s note: The original headline of this story incorrectly said ‘rates’ rather than ‘races.’ The headline was fixed on Thursday, July 14.

Correction: Lindsay Mann-King’s name was misspelled and fixed on Friday, July 15 due to an editing error. 

Correction: The Western Front failed to properly quote Alma McMurtry in regards to her race time and was fixed on Tuesday, July 19 due to an editing error. She was not aware of her time when quoted.


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