With schools closed and life seemingly on hold with little end in sight, what’s an Edmonds Heights teacher and dedicated runner to do?
Well, for starters, how about run every street in Edmonds.
“I love running around Edmonds, especially early in the evening,” said Erin Zackey, who enjoys participating in local running events when she isn’t teaching science at Edmonds Heights K-12. “The light at that time of day is so beautiful — rain or shine. And the sunsets, wow — I often just keep going after dark. The comet this summer was amazing!”
Zackey is an active member of the Edmonds/Richmond Beach Running Club, and said she really missed the camaraderie of group events put on hold due to COVID-19 and social distancing.
Using a web-based app called City Strides, Zackey was able to call up a detailed map of Edmonds and link her activity through a Garmin tracker. The Garmin’s built-in GPS kept tabs on which streets she’d run and completed routes would immediately show up in purple on the City Strides map.
“I started the Edmonds run earlier this summer,” she related. “I usually run in the same old loops, so I thought this would be a great way to expand my horizons. It turned out to be the perfect way to take on a new challenge and explore new close-to-home places at the same time. I was amazed to find so much right here in town that I’d never seen.”
Zackey originally planned to finish up around the end of August, but another runner from the club was doing it at the same time and making great progress. “I couldn’t let him beat me,” she confessed. “I just got it in my head that I needed to get it done, so I upped my game!”
She finished Aug. 11.
A familiar face at Edmonds running events, Zackey is known for showing up in outrageous costumes and grabbing attention with her infectious enthusiasm. Nothing keeps her down or off the road, including injuries that would sideline most of us.
“I broke my foot back in 2018,” she recalled. “Luckily I didn’t need surgery, but it was just before the Edmonds Scarecrow Run, and I couldn’t miss that! I still had one good foot, so I costumed up and completed the run with my leg on one of those little scooters. Having goals is a great motivator.”
But it was not always so.
Zackey grew up on Vashon Island, and her earliest memories include running. She ran state in high school, and started running at Western Washington University as a freshman. But then she became involved in her studies and running took a back seat. After graduation, teaching and raising kids kept her jumping, and running remained a low priority.
“I’d still get out occasionally and go for a run, but I wasn’t regular about it,” she said.
As the kids grew, she found more time, and after almost 20 years of only very occasional running, she made a vow to herself – complete a marathon before turning 40.
“I gradually increased my runs, I did a marathon by myself just for practice, I joined the running club,” she explained. “Having the community and support of the club was so great.”
Today Zackey logs 10-20 miles each day. In addition to her favorite routes around town, she’s currently participating in virtual runs including the Evergreen Challenge and The Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee.
“But Edmonds is my home, and running this town – my town – through City Strides was a peak experience,” she said. “I had so many adventures along the way, it’s hard to pick my favorite. I really loved all the amazing gardens (so beautiful), finding little out-of-the-way byways that you’d never see in a car, and the animals — the salamander in Pine Ridge Park, the baby bird by Madrona School I almost stepped on. At one point, I ran across a coyote family – mom and pups. They just stared at me, weren’t scared at all.”
Zackey hopes others will be inspired by what she’s done and motivated to do something similar. “There’s so much here right outside our door,” she concluded. “And it’s always a beautiful day to run in Edmonds.”
— Story and photos by Larry Vogel