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  • The Yakima River Canyon Marathon
    a Marathon in Washington State
    April 2, 2016
    http://www.ontherunevents.com/yrcm/
    by Frank C. Purdy

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    Marathoners these days can choose from a long list of options, from the exquisite to the extreme to the excruciating. To those the Hard Core Runners of Yakima, Wash., humbly suggest two more: 

    (1) Sleeping in on the morning of Saturday, April 2, 2016;

    or

    (2) Striding through the pleasantly picturesque panorama proffered by the Yakima River Canyon Marathon.

    The argument for sleeping in is self-evident. But why the canyon? 

    Well, even without the exercise, the scenery itself is enough to raise the pulse rate. Those who have driven, rafted, biked or hiked the canyon in Central Washington state know of which we speak. Basalt cliffs soar 1,500 feet above the meandering river (a marker midway through the marathon course offers a geological explanation). Wildlife abounds -- airborne, afield and afoot. Runners will have the route to themselves -- the course will be closed to most vehicular traffic -- so any noise likely will be traced to the rippling river on your right or the footfalls of fellow competitors all around you.

    This is a point-to-point marathon, the standard 26.2-mile distance, on paved State Route 821 starting at Ellensburg, Wash., and finishing north of Selah, Wash. Selah itself lies just north of Yakima, Wash. Runners can expect two significant grades, including one past the fabled 20-mile mark, and a range of curves that result when a road is constructed to follow the course of a river through a canyon. It is neither a classic, fast, flat, PR course nor an extreme test of endurance. Race organizers consider it a representative course, tilted slightly toward the difficult side. Actually, since runners go with the flow of the river, it's a net downhill.

    Given this is the Pacific Northwest, you ask, what are the chances for rain? The answer is slim to none. This area sits just east of the Cascade Mountains, in what meteorologists call a rain shadow. Annual precipitation totals about 10 inches a year, and the native flora (sagebrush, grasses) reflect the arid climate. Irrigation makes the area's agricultural industry possible; this is where the famed Washington apples grow up. Normal low temperatures for the date are 25-30 degrees F, normal highs in the mid-50s. A normal day during the race period (8 a.m. to 3 p.m.) will see sunshine and temperatures in the 35- to 50-degree range, very much in the comfort range for a long race.

    Ellensburg lies 110 miles east of Seattle via Interstate 90, and 35 miles north of Yakima via Interstate 82. Those who drive to the race will find detailed directions in the race application.

    Those from outside the area who want to fly can land at either Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and drive to Ellensburg, or they can fly into the Yakima Airport. Most major airlines fly into Seattle-Tacoma, and Yakima is served by Horizon/Alaska  Airlines, which operates flights to and from Seattle-Tacoma. It offers code-share arrangements with Northwest, Continental and American. Flying into Yakima requires the extra connecting flight, but the tradeoff is shorter lines and generally less hassle getting in and out of the smaller airport compared to Seattle-Tacoma. Plus, you can avoid possible inclement (and wintry) weather on I-90 going over the Cascade crest.

    In addition, Greyhound bus lines serves Ellensburg and Yakima. Several motels will be available in Ellensburg, some within a warm up jog of the start. A wide range of accommodations will be found in Yakima and one in Selah.

    Interested? For an application, contact Bob or Lenore Dolphin at the following: (425) 226-1518 in Renton, Wash., (509) 966-0188 in Yakima; or visit the web site at www.ontherunevents.com/yrcm.

    Not interested? Well, go ahead and sleep in. But before you do, check out some of the pictures of the canyon that we've posted on the web site, just so you'll know what others are enjoying

    Again, that's Saturday, April 2, 2016. Whatever you choose, we'll be there.


     

    ###

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