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  • Yakima River Canyon Marathon Report

    by Bob Dolphin
    March 31, 2007


    When asked by interested parties, “How did the marathon go?” I always reply, “Great! Bigger and better than ever! Ideal weather.” I hesitate to say more for fear of being known as a biased co-race director.

    The first e-mail we received after the race was amazing. In a few paragraphs, runner Russell Peters, 43, (3:58:07) of Enumclaw, WA, said everything that I felt and captured the essence of the March 31, 2007, Yakima River Canyon Marathon. “What a great run! Just wanted to thank you and everyone involved with organizing and helping make this the best race I’ve ever run. This was the first run that I felt the race was actually for the runner…What a gorgeous run through the Canyon! The water stations and porta-potties were great and perfectly spaced…The pasta feed and awards dinners were highlights to remember. Also a super thank you to all the volunteers and people helping at all of the aid stations… Their smiles and can-do attitudes did not go unnoticed. They were motivational and greatly appreciated…I just finished running the 2007 Marathon and can’t wait to run again in 2008. See you on April 5, 2008.”

    It was a memorable day as I celebrated the completion of my 400th marathon/ultra race! To share in the excitement of our marathon weekend, runners, walkers and wheelchair participants came from 26 states, three Canadian provinces, Wales, England and Japan. A record 523 registrations were received.

    Over 100 Marathon Maniacs were on hand for a Marathon Maniac Reunion, and John “The Penguin” Bingham was our honored guest.

    The Marathon Maniacs (MM’s) had a busy weekend. It all began with a meeting on Friday afternoon that included introductions, a gift Yakima River Canyon Marathon (YRCM) logo mug (with a name tag, MM pin and two gels), lots of drawing prizes from the three main maniacs (Steve Yee, Chris Warren and Tony Phillippi), presentations of special awards to MM Van Phan and MM Larry Macon (in absentia), and a group picture that’s available on the website as a poster.

    On race day members’ bibs were distinguished with an “M ‘n M’ sticker, and there were a lot of gold, red and black Maniac singlets visible on the course.

    A few days after the marathon we received this e-mail from John Bingham, “Thank you for a WONDERFUL weekend. It was really special.” Now, our Thanks go to John for his part in making it memorable for us. He wore “many caps” during the his time with us, and he was always willing and able to help when we needed him.

    By arriving at the Selah Civic Center on Thursday evening, March 29th, we “let” him help set up for the events to follow. On Friday, he sold all of his books and met many of his fans at our packet pickup/expo. For us, the highlight of the weekend was his humorous presentation at the pasta feed where a record number of 404 persons were served. This topped the previous record of 303 set in 2005.

    On race day, John was the chauffeur for race director Lenore Dolphin, starting line announcer, available at the finish line with humorous quips and anecdotes, emcee at the awards ceremony and presenter of certificates to those who finished their first marathon.

    Traditionally, there’s a foot sticker on the bibs of all first time participants, and it’s good for a hug from the race director at the finish line. There were 80+ first-timers, and those who attended the awards ceremony completed their special day by being honored as “first-time finishers.”

    During the weekend there were other special awards presented. At Friday’s pasta feed activities, Jose Nebrida (the runner with the American flag) presented me with the 50 States Marathon Group’s Humanitarian Award for 2007.

    As co-directors of the 100 Marathon Club North America, Lenore and I honored some members for special milestones and presented them with medallions: Larry Macon and Mel Preedy (300 marathons); Henry Rueden, Alan Morton and Bob Dolphin (400 marathons); Ray Scharenbrock (500 marathons). Welcomed into the club and presented with certificates and a medallion were new member Sean Meissner (100 marathons) and two runners who would complete their 100th marathon on March 31st, Robert Lopez, 40, MM from Seattle (3:49:55) and John Connor, 51, from Newport, KY (6:44:28).

    Another group was honored at the awards ceremony. It’s one that is very special, but it gets smaller every year. Of the 29 runners eligible to wear a big, gold star on their bibs, 26 registered and completed the YRCM for the SEVENTH TIME. They were rewarded with a bottle of Gary Beeman’s special YRCM vintage wine.

    Here’s a quote from “Maine” Maniac David Goodrich, “The run and visit OVERALL was a BLAST, and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience all the way around.”

    David came all the way from Houlton, Maine, with MM David Bates to be at the starting line as John Bingham introduced Fenny Roberts, MM from Salem, Oregon, who sang the national anthem for the seventh consecutive year. They saw four wheelchair participants leave at 7:55 a.m., heard the invocation by Pastor Bill Starr, and were introduced to Jose Nebrida who was carrying a large U.S. flag. This year the flag was inscribed with the names of all of the victims of 9/11, the people in whose memory he runs.

    At 8:00 a.m. the train whistle (on a truck!) blew to signal the start of the 7th annual YRCM. The weather was ideal as the temperature went from the 40’s to the mid 50’s. The sky was overcast, and the winds were light.

    It was great to visit with friends along the course……..Frank Searfus, MM Fenny Roberts, MM Dave Bell, MM Genia Kacey, Bernadette Langdon, MM Tim Bruce, MM Jack Swanson, Frank Bartocci, Mike Hendricks, Raymond Hoyle, Stephen Love, MM Mel Preedy, MM Bruce Katter, John Connor, MM Barefoot Todd Byers…..and others.

    As always, I enjoyed the beauty and natural history of the canyon. A raven flew low overhead, and there were many Violet-Green Swallows over the river. A patch of Sagebrush Buttercups by the Wymer Cut downhill were the only wildflowers in view.

    After I crested the Rosa Dam Hill, my right hamstring tended to cramp, so I walked for two miles. Then I ran the last mile accompanied by Rich Menzel, Fenny Roberts and several others who had finished earlier. I crossed the finish line in 5:39:27, 405th of 458 finishers and first 75-79M. I ran the course 26 minutes faster than the year before, so perhaps the “pressure of the day” helped.

    There were hugs and kisses from Lenore, handshakes, congratulations, a big banner, lots of picture taking and champagne! Nearby balloons had “dolphins” on them with the printing of “Bob’s 400th.”

    This finish line celebration was captured by Hard Core Runners Club photographer Kenn Zahn. He quickly added it to his 13 minute DVD presentation of my running career and showed it at the 4:00 p.m. awards ceremony. What a surprise!! Another surprise was the testimonial and kind words from former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee at the conclusion of the DVD.

    It was at the awards ceremony that I learned how the race had unfolded. The wheelchair division was won by Tim Clark, 45, of Puyallup in 1:55:17. Jerry Martin, 59, course record holder from Spokane, came in second with a 1:58:09. In third place was Robert Madruga, 38, from Spokane Valley with a time of 2:30:36. Holly Koester, 47, of Walston Hills, Ohio, our first-ever woman wheelchair athlete, finished in 3:37:09.

    Last year when he was 26 years old, Manuh Santos ran and WON his first marathon at our April 1, 2006, YRCM. Now, at age 27, he ran his third marathon and won his second consecutive YRCM with a time of 2:39:14, a personal record (PR) by 7 ½ minutes. He pulled away from a three runner group on the Wymer Cut Hill and extended his lead from there. Rick Becker, 52, of Selah came in second with a 2:43:34. This Hard Core Runners Club member is a two time World Masters Champion at 5K and 8K distances. MM Sean Meissner, 33, an ultrarunner from Sisters, Oregon, finished happily in third place with a 2:44:36 that was a PR by seven minutes.

    For the third year in a row, MM Mary Hanna, 45, of Maple Valley won the women’s race. Her time was 3:04:26, and she placed 13th overall. As in 2006, in second place was Ann Armstong, 45, of Poulsbo, who finished just 48 seconds behind Mary with a time of 3:05:14. Karin Kupp, 38, of Yakima, the first local woman finisher, ran a 3:14:57 for third place. She’s noted for her triathlon and multi-sport relay accomplishments and hadn’t run a marathon since her college days. MM Annie Thiesen, 36, from Tacoma led for most of the race. However, hamstring twinges in the second half of the marathon worsened until she was in pain on the Rosa Cut downhill with 5K to go to the finish. This misfortune permitted the others to pass her before she crossed the finish line in 3:17:15.

    In the age groups……………

    MM Christina Bruce, 15, of Sequim was first 19 & under female with a 3:52:47. Her sister, MM Jennifer, 18, was second (4:22:18). MM Christel Elliott, 28, of Tacoma was the first 25-29F with a 3:48:52.

    MM Sherry Mahoney, 42, of Vernon, BC, ran a 3:39:23 to place first in the 40-44F group. She ran with her husband MM Jon, 55, who placed third for the 55-59M division with a 3:39:25.

    MM Cliff Richards, 46, of Maple Valley was 4th overall and won the 45-49M group with a 2:46:22. MM Tony Phillippi, 45, of Tacoma, ran a 3:00:00 for third place in this group. Tony is the race director for the inaugural Tacoma City Marathon on Sunday, May 13, 2007.

    In the 50-54M division, Rick Becker was first (2:43:34) and ultramarathoner Mark Hartinger, 50, of Shoreline was second (3:09:38).

    MM Barb Blumenthal, 50, of Sammamish finished in 3:39:39 to set a course record for the 50-54F group. MM David Jones, 61, of Seattle won the 60-64M group with a 3:38:01. He has a long, every-day run streak going for 20+ years, and he runs to and from his job every day to work as a mailman!

    MM Gunhild Swanson, 62, of Spokane Valley continues to dominate her age class. She ran a 3:57:27 for first place in the 60-64F group. Larry Carroll, 67, of Spokane kept his age class winning streak going and broke his own course record. His time was 3:28:00. It was good to see Paul Hinen, 65, of Soap Lake running a marathon again…..and great that he placed second in this division with a 3:46:59.

    Delores Scott, 70, of Wilsonville, Oregon, set an age class record last year as a 69 year old, and she did it again this year by running a 5:04:36 for first place in the 70-74F group. MM Alan Morton, 75, of Wales came in second in the 75-79M division with a 6:46:18. He’s traveled to the YRCM for four consecutive years with Raymond Hoyle, 64, (6:19:12) of Watford, UK.

    Did you know that????? …..Karin and Gerald Buchmann of Ephrata are the only husband/wife team that has run all seven YRCM’s…….While Mrs. Bruce was volunteering at an aid station on the course, her daughters, Christina (15) and Jennifer (18), and her husband Tim, 54, (5:40:30) were all MM’s on the course…….Justin Moyer, 18, (4:17:08) who was the youngest person to complete the YRCM (at age 13) and Janice Moyer, his mom, 50, (4:18:22) from Wellpinit almost finished together…….There’s a mother and son who did finish together. Genia Kacey, 31, from Sultan is seven months pregnant and “her son” and she finished in a time of 5:34:34. This was his seventh marathon, so it must be some kind of record!…….Hard Core Runners Club member Jeff Hemp had more challenges than a first-time marathoner needs. When course marshal Frank Purdy was told the day before the race that his long-reserved U-Haul truck wasn’t available, Jeff saved the day by providing a Coca Cola truck from his employer. With such short not! ice, he had to be the driver, too! That meant that he helped put supplies in the truck on Friday night, delivered them to the aid stations from finish to start, ran his first marathon, and then resumed his truck driving duties. He deserves a special THANK YOU!

    Other special thanks go to……… …..Ron Fowler, 59, of Seattle for being the chauffeur for John Bingham…….Jim Kunz, 58, of Seattle for the special postage stamps commemorating my 400th marathon…….Ron, Jim and the other three “Evil Triplets” for the wonderful “Dolphin Trophy”…….Ruth & Roelif Laughlin for providing the beautiful flowers at the Civic Center and finish line…….Scott Sandsberry, Adriana Janovich and others at the Yakima Herald Republic newspaper for the best marathon coverage in the world…….Hal & Patty Porter, Hal & Evelyn Copeland, Niece Jeanne Murphy & husband Stu (friends and relatives) who came from Manson, Richland and Kennewick to be there for me at the finish line…….Relatives who helped at an aid station, nephew Nathan Sackman & wife Shelby (and their friend Chris Thompson)…….Nephew Kirk Hudson, 39, (4:05:32) who ran the marathon and brought his family from Wenatchee and his mom from Kennewick to cheer us on while his dad Richard, 67, walked the marathon in 6:15:24…….Our children who start! ed a “Team Dolphin Boston Marathon Fund” to annually help a runner who has qualified at the YRCM with expenses for the “Boston Marathon Experience.”

    Our thanks go to everybody who helped make the 2007 Yakima River Canyon Marathon a success. The combined involvement, work and effort of everyone associated with the marathon was necessary to make this race the best one yet. Lenore provides the leadership and works on marathon requirements all year with the intensity coming to a peak on race day and ebbing slowly for a long time afterward.

    The marathon committee, mostly Hard Core Runners Club members, are all very good with their responsibilities and specialties. Turnover has been minimal, so most of the committee is quite experienced. Our sponsors have been very supportive and supply the food and drink required by participants on the race course. They, also, provide the many drawing prizes for the Pep Rally, Pre-race Pasta Feed and the Awards Dinner. Ham radio operators, the State Department of Transportation, law enforcement officers from Yakima, Ellensburg, Kittitas and Yakima Counties, and the Washington State Patrol provide traffic control and help to protect the race participants during the event. There are over 300 volunteers who help make this marathon weekend happen, and to them we’re forever grateful!

    The following is an excerpt from an e-mail sent to us by runner Bonni Brooks, 43, (4:12:29) of Seattle: “You treated us all to a spectacular marathon on all counts. The organization was phenomenal, the volunteers cheerful and tireless, the entertainment on the course perfectly timed just when you need it and not a distraction from the run itself. The scenery, of course, is breathtaking and our enjoyment of it was enhanced by the fact that every little detail of race logistics was obviously considered from the runner’s point of view. My only regret is that I drove out from Seattle on Friday night and didn’t know that I would want to stay the whole weekend. Next year I’ll know better!……I can’t say enough good things about the Yakima River Canyon Marathon. It was number 16 for me in a series that has included some great races: London, Rock ‘n’ Rolls in both San Diego and Arizona, the Lost Dutchman in Apache Junction. Among the beautiful courses and wonderful races I’ve run, this one takes the cake!……Look for me next year along with every running buddy I have to my name!……T! hanks again for an experience I’ll never forget!”

    March 31, 2007, the date of my 400th marathon, is a day I’ll remember forever!!

    Written by Bob Dolphin
    Edited, Typed and Distributed by Lenore Dolphin


    © Bob Dolphin

    # # #


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