Who is Jim Pearson
Jim Pearson, the originator of the Birch Bay Marathon, grew up in Lake Stevens and in 1962 moved to Whatcom County where he earned a BA in Education from Western Washington State College (now WWU) and later a Master in Education degree from the same school. After teaching a year in Snohomish, he moved to Birch Bay and commuted from there to his new job with the Ferndale High School English department. He taught and coached at FHS for the next 35 years. Pearson’s best high school runner during this span, Mark Anderson, at age 16 ran 2:41:59 at Birch Bay in 1975 just six weeks before winning the Washington state AAA (the largest schools at that time) two mile in 9:19.6 with a 62.2 last lap (not bad for a kid with a 440 PR of 60 seconds). Another of Pearson’s runners, Torry Lingbloom, set the Washington state ninth grade record at 2:55:14 and as a junior lowered his time to 2:38:15. His brother Todd ran 2:48:19 at Birch Bay as a tenth grader. Mark Martin ran 2:39 in Seattle in 1982 to rank second on the FHS list. Following his junior year, Martin won the AAU National Hour Run championship by covering 11 miles, 490 yards on the track in one hour. Mike Menchaca (2:54), Jim Peterson (2:54), Jay Kammerzell (2:55) and Bob Hagin (2:58) made the list of FHS runners under three hours. Anderson later won the Big 8 cross country title for the University of Colorado, qualified for several US team competitions in both cross country and track, qualified for the U.S. Olympic trials in both the 10,000 and the marathon, and earned all-American honors numerous times. The elder Lingbloom placed ninth in the U.S. Olympic 20 kilometer race walk trials. Pearson’s high school teams won five league titles. The highest team placing was second in the Washington state girls cross country championships.
Pearson’s personal running started off slowly. In 1970 he scored his first win with a 2:43:40 at Birch Bay with the course later to be determined 290 yards short. In his 22 tries at Birch Bay, he won 16 times (World Record for number of wins in the same race), placed second four times, and had one third and one fourth place finish. Pearson also won the Seattle and Portland marathons, qualified for the 1972 and 1976 Olympic trials and later in his career placed ninth in the World Masters marathon championships. He ran the marathon in under three hours 69 times with 27 under 2:36 and 14 under 2:30, with a personal best of 2:22:32. In longer races he twice rose to second on the all-time U.S. 100 kilometer list with a second and third in national championships at that distance. His most notable achievement came in Seattle in 1976 when he won the AAU National 50 mile championship with a new American record of 5:12:41. He also ran America’s fourth fastest 50 mile track race with a 5:40:49, the fourth fastest 60 kilometer run ever by an American at 3:49:14 and ran 11 miles, 844 yards on the track in an hour.