Oak Harbor, Wa — The Whidbey Island Marathon in Oak Harbor, WA, may still be two months away, but Navy Fitness professionals at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island (NASWI) are getting active duty, dependents and retirees prepared now for the 26.2-mile and 13.1-mile races.

The NASWI Marathon Training Club's main goal is to have as many people as possible, regardless of ability level, finish the half-marathon portion of the course. The club currently has about 50 members, including active duty, dependents and retirees, and as many as 10 of them are expected to run the full marathon on April 13.

“We like to do distance runs, speed drills and tempo runs, and the goal for the first-timers is just to finish,” says Brad Sandefur, NASWI fitness instructor. “We tell them not to worry about time.”

This isn't the first time the group has trained for a marathon. Last fall, seven members of last year's group traveled to Washington, DC, to compete in the Marine Corps Marathon as part of an attempt by the team to do a fall marathon along with the Whidbey Marathon in spring. This year, members plan to also participate in the San Francisco Marathon on Aug. 3.

“The Marine Corps Marathon was something else because it was almost overwhelming,” says Aviation Warfare Systems Operator 1st Class Michael Glidewell of NASWI Search and Rescue. “I have never seen that many runners in one place — nearly 30,000. It was awesome. The whole experience was life changing. I would recommend that race to anyone who wants to run a marathon.”

Glidewell says the program is a great morale booster and that being a part of the group is motivating. Since he joined the group a year ago, Glidewell has lost 30 pounds.

“I feel I deal with stress better,” he says. “And I like the way I look in the mirror as well as in uniform.”