A little gem of a race definitely worth the trip! (about: 2001)|
Donald Chang from Vancouver, BC, CANADA (8/2/02)
This is a marathon that has a small field, but a BIG heart. Ron, the race director, has organized an event that he would choose to race himself--and he does! Every runner, from sub-three hours to five hours plus, was announced at the finish, where there is loads of food, sweets, water, and juice, and where massage is available. Not to mention, Ron usually finds a pretty gal to hang the medal on your neck (oh, I just mentioned it, didn't I?). There are inclines up and down the four bridge crossings, but the only one that really feels a bit tough is the last one, at about mile 24. But it isn't really all that steep, or that long, it's just WHEN you have to do it. Let's not whine; this is a MARATHON after all. It is a beautiful course, mostly out and back along the Columbia River, with the trees turning autumn red and gold; the Tri Cities are in orchard and vineyard country. Aid stations are plentiful, the course is very well marked, and it seems that there are more friendly volunteers than there are runners (who were pretty friendly too). The location is EAST of the Cascade Mountains, so it tends to be dry, even in late October in the usually wet and soggy Pacific Northwest.
Ron says that he doesn't want the race to get too big, as the small field allows him to avoid major stress (well, not really--if someone else wants to take over the job of organizing this show, he'd be happy to talk to them . . . ) yet do a thorough job and ensure all the runners are well taken care of. That said, this race is a hidden gem, and I suspect that word may start to get around. I know I'm going to try to return, and talk others into going as well. And that, in itself, should tell you something, because I need to drive six and half hours, plus through the CANADA-US boundary, to get there. I 'discovered' Tri-Cities while looking for another marathon after running Victoria, BC, CANADA for the sixth time. I live in Vancouver, BC, CANADA and I really love the marathon in Victoria; it is a lovely race and is deservedly on Runner's World's list of best destination marathons. But in 2001, while Victoria was again an enjoyable race, I felt I hadn't quite run as well as I should have, and missed qualifying for my return to Boston. I still felt good, and had the training 'in the bank' so I was looking for a second chance. Well, Tri-Cities was well worth the wait at the border and the drive to get to there, and not just because I DID qualify for Boston. I would go back with friends to run the marathon relay, or the marathon; I won't need much of an excuse. The race is that welcoming, that scenic, that well-run, and that much fun. 'nuff said.