Saturday, April 04, 2009

Yakima Canyon Marathon - Off-road version

Tim and I set out the mile-markers early this morning for the Yakima Canyon Marathon runners. It was a brisk sunny morning that promised to warm up, a great day to run this gorgeous marathon. The tail wind in the latter part of the race would help to push the weary runners up the final hills to the finish.

We had a carful of cones, staked markers to anchor into the ground, and Talking Rain mile signs for each mile plus the half-way point. That's 26 sets. We also had 2 dogs, Steely and Missy, as well as our own running gear. The plan was to mark the course, leave the car in Selah and run back on an off-road trail somewhat parallel to Canyon Road, on which most of the marathon course is run.

Our friends David, Ethan and Willy were running the same course as us but in the opposite direction. We would meet them at about the 1/2 way point and exchange car keys so that we could all meet later and get our own cars back. I thought the plan was brilliantly designed.

Tim and I set out on our run a little late because it too longer to mark the course than we thought it would. We had written instructions about where to place the markers despite that the miles actually had already been staked out a few days ago. So, all we really had to do was set the odometer and look for the stakes and read the instructions if needed. How hard could it be? Well, it was easy actually, but it was also quite humorous. The instructions were like: "20 mile: Across road from rock with stick protruding, about 50 feet up, 185 paces south of pine tree between road and river." Finding the rock with the protruding stick was just great. It was waaay up high, but sure enough, it was there. The instruction were always spot on, just spoke to the remoteness of this gorgeous course that winds along the Columbia River through the Yakima canyon. A far cry from the Chicago Marathon course, eh? :)

So, we finished marking the marathon, parked the car, and hit the trail. I've done this route only once before but remembered it clearly. We climbed and climb and climbed and from far above we could look down and see scattered runners on Canyon Road far below. The weather was perfect. We started wearing windbreakers but shorts and a thin long-sleeve was all that was necessary for most of the run. We took our time and captured lots of pictures. I am pretty much recovered from Pacific Rim two weeks ago but my back has been grumbling so I wasn't too aggressive on the climbs. The dogs ran and ran and ran with big grins on their faces. They were in their glory. My warnings to them to pace themselves - as we had lots of miles to run - were completely ignored. I guess sometimes you just have to run with abandon. They certainly did.

We met up with Dave, Ethan and Willy as planned and made sure everyone was feeling good and recovered from Pac Rim (all of us ran there). We exchanged car keys and continued on. The guys ended up finishing 15 minutes before us because we got such a late start, so they waited at Tim's for us as we drove David's 1985 Subaru home.

It was a great day and warm enough afterward to eat thai food on the porch in shorts, a t-shirt and sun glasses. Now, we're chillin'. The dogs are crashed. Tired dogs are good dogs!

Go HERE for more pictures.


olga said...

Adventures awaiting everywhere, and grins on dogs' faces are just absolutely lovely addition:)

Backofpack said...

Well now. I didn't know you two were around! Thanks for setting the mile markers for us - they were much appreciated. I love, love, love that beautiful canyon. And what a brilliant sunny day! A very nice treat after all the gray we've had. It felt like freedom to run in short sleeves. Thanks for volunteering!

King Arthur said...

That looks like a lot more fun than the running I did yesterday on those cambered roads. Next year I'll do the dirt version.

Journey to a Centum said...

A dirt version event of the Yakima River Canyon would be stellar! I'm going to REI to get a map of the area so I can plan a training run in the sun! No complaints today however with plenty of blue sky to go around!

Chad in the AZ Desert said...

Now that is a really cool way to do a marathon. It looks like the dogs had a great time, too.

Congratulations on the 24-hour win! 24-hour races are always really fun to do. I hope you get down to Phoenix for ATY again this year.

Bret said...

Nice day for a run thats for sure.
Lisa, Gail and I might come over to Spokane for the River Run 50k in a few weeks. Is it a fun race? Do you have any snow left on the course? (Gail hates the snow and ice)
Tell Tim the Henry's say "Hi". I think he will get it. Thanks!

Lisa B said...

Hi Bret, the River Run is a fabulous 50k. I think it's my favorite. Excellent trail course, very runnable with just one short very rocky section to keep it amusing.

I haven't been on the course and I'm not sure if we'll have time to scope it out this weekend. Maybe. I would think all the snow is gone except for a few patches. I think it's supposed to snow a bit this weekend but I'm sure it won't stick.

There are a few Ellensburgers staying at my house Sat night, and you and Gail are welcome to join us if you don't mind the dogs that are coming too. :)

Bret said...

Thanks for the invite and the course update. Email me at and I will give you more info. Hopefully we will make it this weekend.