Yakima River Canyon Marathon
April 6, 2002
Race Report by Bob Dolphin
Weather conditions for the second annual Yakima River Canyon Marathon
(YRCM) were ideal. Overcast skies, air temperatures in the 50's and light
winds on Saturday, April 6, 2002, made for good running in the scenic
At the start in Ellensburg, WA, one wheelchair participant and 347 runners
and walkers listened to Fenny Roberts, a marathoner from Salem, OR, sing
the national anthem. Boy Scouts from Troop 493 of Ellensburg displayed
the USA colors and those of Canada, United Kingdom, New Guinea and
Australia.....countries that had runners in the race. Jose Nebrida of
Chicago who would carry a US flag while running the marathon was
introduced. He is well on the way to completing his goal of carrying the
American flag as he runs a marathon in all 50 states and DC within two
years of the 9/11 attack.
At 7:55 a.m., Jerry Martin, 54, from Greenacres, WA (near Spokane) began
his wheelchair race. Following two Yakima City Poilice motorcycle
escorts, he reached the finish line at the south end of the canyon in 2
hours, 15 minutes and 55 seconds. Joe Henderson, the renowned running
speaker and author, counted down the final seconds to the 8:00 a.m. start
for the runners and walkers....and the whistle from an adjacent Burlington
Northern Santa Fe locomotive was the signal for the race to begin.
First-time marathoner Jose Garcia, 32, of Yakima immediately took the lead
and increased his time and distance cushion as he followed his motorcycle
escorts.....briefly to the north and east and then southward to and
through the deep, hilly canyon. Jose, a high school track coach, was the
winner in a time of 2:29:43, a course record. In second and third places
were Chris Morlan, 34, of Spokane who ran a 2:36:10 and Tom St Clair, 36,
of Yakima who had a 2:39:16 finishing time. These two runners also broke
the 2001 course record of 2:42:56. Stan Holman, 37, of Carson, WA, was
fourth (2:43:43), and Brian Stoner, 35, of Issaquah was fifth (2:52:53).
Not far behind in 13th place overall and winner for the women was Marlene
Farrell, 26, of Snoqualmie Pass, WA, a graduate student at Central
Washington University in Ellensburg. Her time of 3:10:00 broke the course
record of 3:19:12 set by Carol Stuhley in 2001. The second through fifth
women finishers were: Lindsey Shank, 19, Wenatchee, 3:12:04; Carol
Stuhley, 39, Yakima, 3:17:32; Eva Lust, 32, Yakima, 3:17:34; Susan Haws,
30, Seattle, 3:17:42.
Cliff Banister, 41, of Pendleton, OR, finished in 8th position, the last
sub three hour runner with a 2:59:22. He was the first men's Master and
the first 40-44M finisher. Susan Gallas, 41, of Seattle was the first
women's Master and first 40-44F with a finishing time of 3:25:32.
Mel Preedy of Ravensdale was four days short of his 69th birthday. As one
of the oldest runners in the race, he finished in a fast time of 3:33:54
to break his course record by ten minutes. He captured the first place
award in the 65-69M division and placed 53rd of 346 runners and walkers.
Larry Carroll, 62, of Liberty Lake, WA, was first again in his age group
with a 3:20:37.
The last time Eb Engelmann, 60, of Salem, OR, qualified for the Boston
Marathon he wasn't accepted because the race was on an uncertified course.
On our certified course, he ran a 3:27:10, a qualifying time with almost
13 minutes to spare. He can be Boston-bound in 2003 if he chooses to go.
Gunhild Swanson, 57, of Spokane had a good race. She finished with a
3:38:40 which broke her course record by four minutes and placed her first
in the 55-59F division.
Jeff Hagen, 54, from Yakima ran a 3:50:47 marathon and was delighted with
his "reverse split." (He ran the second half of the marathon faster than
the first half!!)
In the first mile, I could tell that I was going to have a slow run.
Keith Wood, 73, the oldest runner in the race, went out of sight
early.....so I just relaxed and enjoyed the event with its marvelous
scenery, friends on the course, and the great volunteers at the aid
stations. There were a lot of interesting sights. The river was swollen
with snow melt water being released for irrigation in the Yakima Valley.
Migrating tree swallows were moving upstream and feeding on gnats from the
river. The hills were turning green with new grass. The riverside shrubs
and trees were leafing out, and sage buttercups were blooming on
hillsides....a sure sign that spring had come to the canyon.
At Mile 21, I caught and passed Keith Wood. The race was on! If I could
run to the summit of the Roza Dam Hill, I might have a chance, but it
wasn't meant to be. I pressed, and my leg cramps pressed back. He passed
me halfway up the long hill and ran the downside faster than I
did.....beating me with a 4:34:21 for first 70-74M. I finished in
4:37:56, second 70-74M and 225th of 346 runners and walkers.
As a co-director of the marathon, I was pleased at how well things went.
We had a great co-director (Lenore Dolphin), super marathon committee and
many friendly and helpful volunteers whose collective efforts resulted in
a very successful marathon.
The Yakima YMCA Service Group provided Friday night's pasta feed, and the
Selah Lions and Kiwanis Clubs served the awards ceremony meal on Saturday.
At the pasta feed 19 of the 22 100 Marathon Club North America members
registered to run the marathon were introduced. They were presented
membership certificates to this club that was "born" at the inaugural YRCM
on March 31, 2001. Runners with birthdays on April 5th and 7th were
acknowledged. Eliot Collins came from New Jersey to wear bib #50 in honor
of his 50th birthday on April 5th.
As he had done last year, Joe Henderson came from Eugene, OR, to speak at
our pasta feed, to start the race the next morning, to announce all
finishers as they crossed the line, and to help with the awards ceremony.
After a blessing said by Bill McCoy, our medical missionary runner from
Papua, New Guinea, and the singing of God Bless America by Fenny Roberts,
the awards ceremony started. Gifts of thanks for their support (framed
pictures of the canyon) were given to the following people: Joe
Henderson, Martin Rudow (editor of Northwest Runner magazine), Marty
Wanless (sports marketer from Vancouver, BC), Nelsen Petersen (video
producer from Lincoln, Nebraska), and Steve Christofferson (course
Next came the introductions of the Hard Core Runners Club members
(sponsors of the marathon) and the YRCM committee.....and 50 Staters who
came from 23 different states. Dean Rademaker from Springfield, IL,
founder of the 50 States & DC Marathon Group and Bob Lehew from Tulsa, OK,
president of the 50 States Marathon Club, were present. Then it was time
to honor a very special group. There were 73 participants who competed in
their first marathon on April 6th, and those present at the awards
ceremony received a standing ovation and a first-timers "Completion
Big Dave Carter and Roger Biggs, both of the 100 Marathon Club United
Kingdom and North America and 50 Staters, plus Jack Brooks, a
megamarathoner (50 completions), came from England and added an
international flavor to our marathon. In like manner there were Sandra
Cloughessy, 30, (her first marathon in 3:38:02) and Martyn Flahive
(3:47:25) from Perth, Australia, Bill McCoy, 47, from New Guinea AND 19 of
our Canadian friends. Big Dave wears a jesters costume of Union Jack flag
material and carries a large flag when running. He couldn't be missed on
the course as he ran his 495th marathon in the Yakima River Canyon!! He
also has many tattoos and sported a new one on his right thigh of our YRCM
Roger presented Lenore and me with a medallion from the original 100
Marathon Club (United Kingdom) for our efforts in forming the new 100
Marathon Club North America that has 83 members from the U.S., Canada,
U.K., Germany and Sweden. Big Dave gave us our own "Big Dave" flag, and
Lenore's daughter Jan presented her with a bouquet of two dozen red roses.
Tony Sagare, YRCM registrar, presented the awards to our winners. Jose
Garcia and Jerry Martin were there to receive their framed canyon
pictures. Age class awards went five deep in five year increments.
Acryllic awards for the first three places and ribbons for fourth and
fifth place were awarded to those present or mailed to those who were
This year's marathon had a number of family groups on the course. The
largest at three was Chris Morlan, 2nd place finisher, and his parents
Gunhild and Jack Swanson, all of Spokane. Justin Moyer, 13, of Wellpinit,
WA, youngest runner on the course, ran his first marathon in 4:30:47, 2nd
19 & Under Male. His mother, Janice Moyer, 45, ran her second marathon in
Bill McCoy, 47, the medical missionary from Papua, New Guinea, ran a
3:58:30. His son, Josh McCoy, 22, of San Diego joined him in the race and
ran a 3:52:08. It was his first marathon, and he took first place in the
20-24M group. They were accompanied by their friend Rob McBane, 40, from
Rochester, MN. Rob ran a 4:22:41.
Runners weren't the only ones who came from far away places. Our thanks go
to the following who traveled here to be a part of our successful second annual
YRCM: Catherine Homenchuck, Burnaby, BC (music on the course); Jeff Stensland
and family, Mt. Vernon (wheelchair transportation and drop bags); Ruth and Roelif
Laughlin, Shoreline, WA (flowers and finish area); Lawrence Mecklenburg, Scott
Lucke and family, Bremerton (transportation co-ordination etc.); Jan Stensland,
Kensington, CA; Teresa Anderson, Seattle; Kathy Lehew, Tulsa, OK; and Bruce
Katter, Edmonds. Jan, Teresa, Kathy and Bruce filled in wherever needed.
We were proud that Jose Nebrida chose our YAKIMA RIVER CANYON MARATHON for
his WASHINGTON in his quest of carrying the American flag in a marathon in
every state and DC in a two year period from September 11, 2001. Fenny
Roberts finished her marathon in 4:45:55 and ran back on the course to
accompany Jose as he finished his last five miles. In a pre-race article
in the Yakima Herald Republic, sports writer Scott Sandsberry mentioned
that those of us who became citizens the "easy way" (being born in the
U.S.) some times take patriotism for granted. Neither Fenny nor Jose was
born here. She sang the national anthem and God Bless America, Jose
carried the American flag in our race, and both of them touched the hearts
of all of us.
A second successful YAKIMA RIVER CANYON MARATHON is history. Come join us
next year on April 5, 2003, for the third annual YAKIMA RIVER CANYON
MARATHON, a race on one of the most beautiful courses in the world!
Written by Bob Dolphin