Summary: The Tunnel Marathons include 3 summer marathons including the Light at the End of the Tunnel Marathon in June, the Tunnel Vision Marathon in August, and the Tunnel Light Marathon in September. All 3 races are on the same course, a very fast, net downhill course that runs point to point from Hyak Parking lot at Snoqualmie Pass to a gravel parking area along North Bend Way, 2.4 miles SE of downtown North Bend, WA. The course starts at an elevation of 2,550 feet and after a half mile runners enter the pitch black tunnel for 2.4 miles, after which they run along a mainly doubletrack or wide crushed gravel path, following the I-90 corridor, in and out of lush forests. Super fast, pretty course, with a small field that’s well-organized and a great local option for the PNW.
Lessons Learned from Race Reports
- After a half mile runners enter the pitch black tunnel for 2.4 miles. While you can see a lot with the headlamps around you, you definitely want some kind of small light in case you’re running alone
- Your watch likely won’t work in the tunnel, so don’t believe the splits
- The tunnel is a little disorienting, so plan on it feeling a bit odd to run through, then get your bearings on the other side
- There are puddles in the tunnel, so if you’re running with a group, you’ll likely step in them before you see them
- It gets warmer as you go from the start to the finish, so while you might be chilly at the start, it will only get warmer as you head downhill to North Bend
- Out of all the tunnel races, the August is likely to be the hottest, so choose wisely among the 3 if you’re not great in the heat
- If it’s a hot day, the final 10k will feel pretty warm, though there is a good amount of shade on the course
- Lots of shade throughout on the course, with bridge crossings being more exposed
- With aid stations every 2-3 miles, be sure to drink something if you want, because if you skip one, it’s a long way between 2 aid stations.
- Not many bathrooms along the course since the aid stations are remote; best chance for one is halfway
- The trail is smooth enough for road shoes, but there are some sections with some bigger rocks, so if you have light trail shoes, those work well too
- Trail is mainly double track, so you run on either side of it, but not in the middle, where there are more rocks. Makes it a little harder to run the tangents and keep the distance as close to the measured course as possible
- Only small uphill is at mile 8 and it happens quickly, short and slightly steep
- Some turns in the course starting around mile 19.5, so pay attention to the route and flags, and hopefully volunteers at the turns
- Some race reports mentioned mile markers being a little off, so don’t freak out if your splits are a little uneven, but rather, focus on the average pace throughout
- Be sure to review the information on parking and shuttles, as the start and finish are in different locations and there is no parking at the start.
- No packet pickup available the day before the race; pick up the morning of from 5:30-6:45am
Total gain/loss: 10/2000
Total climbs: None
Total aid stations: 10
Furthest distance apart: ~2.5 miles
Locations: Mile 2.6, 5.3, 8.0, 10.7, 13.4, 16.4, 18.8, 21.2, 22.8, 24.8
What’s available: Water and Gatorade at every aid station; gels are given out at miles 8, 16.4, and 21.2
In addition to start/finish, it’s fairly easy to get to the halfway point, which is off Homestead Valley Rd, off I-90 (which you then turn on Forest Service Rd 9020)
You can also see runners around mile 21, off Cedar Falls Rd near Rattlesnake Lake.
Check Strava routes for details on where the routes hit these roads and how to access them off I-90.