Yakima River Canyon Marathon
April 5, 2003
Race Report by Bob Dolphin
The Yakima River Canyon Marathon is a point-to-point race that starts on a
state highway at Ellensburg, WA, in an agricultural valley. Within a few
miles, the race course enters a scenic, winding river canyon and finishes
at the other end of the canyon near Selah, WA. The date for our third
annual marathon was Saturday, April 5, 2003. It was an overcast spring
day with the temperature in the 40's and a breeze at the 8:00 a.m. start.
Joe Henderson, well-known running author and writer, served as the
announcer at the start and finish. He provided helpful directions and
other information to the running field as the participants gathered in the
Jerry Martin, 53, of Greenacres (near Spokane, WA) was cheered as he began
his wheelchair race. With a finishing time of 2:25:22, this was his
third, consecutive win.. He has completed 124 marathons, and we are proud
to have him as a member of the 100 Marathon Club North America. In this
race, Jerry was escorted by two motorcyle policemen of the Yakima Police
Department. Another two motorcyclists escorted the front runner.
After Fenny Roberts of Salem, OR, sang the national anthem in a stirring
manner, the race was started by a blast of the horn of a Burlington
Northern Railroad engine on a nearby track.
As we ran north on Canyon Road to a right turn onto a county road, those
of us in the back of the pack could look across an open field to watch the
front runners as they extended their lead. It was impressive.
This was a race from the outset. Gerardo Avila, 30, of Puyallup WA, and a
staff sergeant at Fort Lewis, ran at a controlled pace in second place in
the first half of the marathon. This permitted him to pass Michael
Brisbois, 39, of Redmond, WA, when Michael made a pit stop. He then ran
the hills of the second half in an aggressive manner. Gerardo was the
winner with a time of 2:35:23 (5:56). This was his sixth marathon, and
his time was a PR.
Michael finished second with a 2:45:07. Dan Menard, 51, of Lyle, WA, ran
a good race for a 2:57:29. Our friend Cliff Banister, 42, of Pendleton,
OR, a Hard Core Runners Club (HCR) member, was close behind with a
2:58:50. Christopher Warren, 35 (3:02:15) and Steven Yee, 43 (3:04:41),
both from Renton, WA, were the next two male runners (5th and 7th).
Just in front of Steven was the first women's finisher, Sam Saunders, 28,
of Summerland, BC. Sam finished in the 6th overall position with a
3:03:46, a new course record for women. She had trained on the steep
hills near Summerland to good advantage.
Cary Steinman, 36 (HCR) of Moxee, WA, was 15th overall and the second
woman with a 3:13:08. She is an accomplished tri-athlete and Ironman
finisher. Leslie Woodman, 42, of Penticton, BC, was the third woman with
a 3:21:44. Carol Stuhley, 40 (HCR), Yakima, women's winner for the first
YRCM, was in fourth place with a time of 3:26:49.
I started out in second position of the 70-74 age division and figured
that I was running for second place. Keith Wood, 74, who was first in the
division last year, led from the start this year, and I lost track of him
in the crowded field. I was surprised to overtake him in the third mile
and pressed the pace. This caused my left calf to cramp, and I had to
walk for awhile. By the time I massaged my leg and took some analgesic
tablets to get back in the race, Keith had passed me and was several
hundred feet down the road. It took seven miles to make up the
distance.....and to re-pass him. I ran on into a 10-20 mph headwind
hoping that I was opening up a lead over Keith, but I couldn't tell. On
the mile long Rosa Dam Hill in the 23rd mile I felt vulnerable because
Keith had passed me on the Dam Hill a year ago. I jogged/walked to the
summit as I was passed by younger runners (but not by anyone in my age
division). The last three miles of the race were mostly downhill, and
this counteracted some of the effects of the strong headwind and wind
chill. My legs were spent in the last mile, and my pace slowed to 12
minutes per mile. Finally, I crossed the finish line in 4:33:49 (10:28),
234th of 338 finishers and FIRST of five in the 70-74M division. After
three races in the Yakima River Canyon, I finally earned an age class
first! It was encouraging to find out that I had run four minutes faster
than last year.
Our good friend Al Homenchuck, 71, of Burnaby, BC, came in second with a
5:15:52. Keith Wood, 74, of Seattle was third with a 5:20:49. Peter
Butler, 71, of St. Paul, MN, a 50 States Finisher and 100 Marathon Club NA
member, ran a 5:21:50 for fourth. In fifth place was Jim Davison, 70, of
Lakewood, WA, with a 5:27:40. Only 12 minutes had elapsed between the
second and fifth place finishers in this division making it a really tight
While the majority of the 382 people who signed up to run the third annual
YAKIMA RIVER CANYON MARATHON were from the state of Washington, other
areas were well-represented. Runners came from 25 states (as far away as
Florida, New Jersey, and Alaska), three Canadian provinces (including
Ontario), and one from London, England.
Many of the distance travelers were members of the 100 Marathon Club North
American, 100 Marathon Club United Kingdom, 50 States and DC Marathon
Group, 50 States Marathon Club and Marathon Achievers. Many runners
belong to more than one of the above.
Peter Graham, 37, of London, England, the secretary of the 100 Marathon
Club UK, was on hand to run his 151st marathon in 5:11:31.
Bob Lehew, 60, of Tulsa, OK, president of the 50 States Marathon Club and
director of the Oklahoma Marathon, ran a 3:25:47 and was second in the
60-64M age division. Ron Hayden, 47, of Kennewick, director of the
Tri-Cities Marathon, was next with a 3:25:57 (5th 45-59M), and Steve
Barrick, 40, of Kent, WA, director of the Green River Marathon, was close
behind in 3:28:27. A battle of the Race Directors!!
There were several family units in the race. For example.....Paul
Buchmann, 23 of Spokane, WA ran his first marathon in 3:31:11 (2nd
20-24M), while his mother, Karin Buchmann, 46, of Ephrata, WA, ran a
4:26:09. His father, Gerald Buchmann, 50, came in with a 3:58:46. Their
family friend Paul Hinen, 61, of Soap Lake finished within a minute of
Paul in a time of 3:32:25 (3rd 60-64M).
David Jones, 57, of Seattle, WA, (3:37:12, 2nd 55-59M) ran his 100th
MARATHON and was inducted into the 100 Marathon Club NA. Lenore handled
the finish line celebration (I was still way back on the course.) As a
surprise to David, his mother, sisters and other family members were at
the finish line for this special event. Then they all cheered his younger
brother as he crossed the finish line. Evan Jones, 46, of Colville, WA,
finished in 4:09:25.
Eddie Hahn, 37, a staff sergeant at Fort Lewis, WA, finished with a
4:21:58 while his uncle, Robert Hildebrandt, 54, of Fairbanks, AK, ran a
6:01:23. His cousin, Dietrich Hildebrandt, 19, of Milton-Freewater, OR,
ran his first marathon in 4:26:11.
Clay Sturgis, 30, of Spokane, WA, and Ryan Sturgis, 28, of Liberty Lake
came to the finish line together in 3:59:08. Doug Antkowiak, 17, and
David Antkowiak, 46, of Sumner ran together and finished in 4:31:42.
Andrew Kotulski, 63, of Montclair, NJ, ran a 3:53:04 for 4th 60-64M. He
continues to recover from a post-marathon bacterial respiratory illness
incurred at Moscow, Russia, at the chaotic time of the September 11, 2001,
attack. He was able to run a marathon in Antarctica recently.
Bruce Katter, 68, of Edmonds, WA, (4:15:29, 2nd 65-69M) was at the same
Antarctica Marathon as Andrew. We extend thanks to Bruce for volunteering
at the Expo and for transporting Jose Nebrida to Edmonds, hosting him for
an overnight stay and taking him to SeaTac Airport the following day.
Another big THANK YOU goes to Bruce for providing the course map that was
on display at the Selah Civic Center.
Craig Romano, 41, of Seattle, race reporter and writer, ran the YRCM in
3:56:26. He plans to write an article for Northwest Runner Magazine about
his personal observations as a participant.
Carol Silvernail, 48, of Puyallup, WA, (4:43:18) had kind comments and
good things to say about the weekend events when we ran together in
mid-race. I told her that we were fortunate to have Lenore as
co-director, a competent and dedicated marathon commmitte, many
enthusiastic volunteers, and great community support. She asked if I was
intentionally running a 10 minute pace. I told her, "NO,"......I just
couldn't go any faster.
It is remarkable that there were only two dropouts in our inaugural race
in 2001, one in 2002, and two of 341 starters (including one wheelchair
participant) in 2003. The two who dropped out this year were a first
timer who developed shin splints and another first-timer who wore new
running shoes that aggravated a plantar fascia condition. Reasonbly good
spring weather and adequate water and sports drink are the likely factors
for this phenomenon.
Mel Preedy, 69, became ill on the course but still finished with a 4:46:33
for 4th place in the 65-69M division. Because of his excellent fitness,
he recovered within a short time in the finish area medical tent where Dr.
Janice Sheufelt, MD, provided medical expertise from an experienced
Joe Henderson stamped his professional presence on the marathon weekend.
He manned a booth at the packet pickup/expo, introduced Jose Nebrida
(guest speaker at the pasta feed), and was emcee at the start and for
many hours at the finish. At the awards ceremony he assisted Tony Sagare,
marathon registrar, by presenting awards to the recipients. Joe is a
prime asset to our marathon!
Martin Rudow had a booth again....representing the Northwest Runner
Magazine in his capacity as publisher, editor and reporter. He helps our
marathon all year by publishing favorable articles about the event and
distributing our entry forms widely.
The GUEST OF HONOR was Jose Nebrida who has now participated in all three
YAKIMA RIVER CANYON MARATHON events. In 2002 he carried an American flag
during our race as he had in eleven others across the land. His quest to
run a marathon in all 50 states and DC within two years of the 9/11 attack
on the U.S. was interrupted in April of 2002. After he ran the Oklahoma
City Memorial Marathon, he suffered a heart attack that necessitated
by-pass surgery. He recovered rapidly and has returned to the marathon
circuit in pursuit of his goal.
At our YRCM Jose was the speaker at the pasta feed. He delivered an
inspirational presentation of his patriotic feelings.....enhanced by funny
running stories. During the marathon he briskly walked the event carrying
the flag of his adopted country. It was joyful to greet Jose and his
walking companion, Gretchen Eickmeyer, 36, of Yakima as we passed them on
the race course.
Lenore Dolphin, co-director of the YRCM, presented Jose with a large,
framed photograph of the Yakima River Canyon at the award ceremony/meal
after the race to express our appreciation. We were pleased that he
attended the No-Host Racers Sunday Brunch before he headed back to his
home in Chicago, IL.....and we look forward to seeing him again next year!
A good time was had by all. I can't wait until April 3, 2004, to do it
Written by Bob Dolphin