Yakima River Canyon Marathon Race Report – Natasha K

yakima river marathon race report

Race: Yakima River Canyon Marathon

Runner: Natasha K

Date: 4/07/2018

Location: Yakima, Washington

Results: 5:59:36

Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/1495345532

3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?

  1. Really pretty course – you follow the meandering Yakima river through the canyon. I saw some random animal skeletons and other runners saw bald eagles.
  2. Extremely well organized – they had pasta the night before the race, baked potatoes after the race, buses to and from hotels to the start line and back, aid stations were really well stocked and were placed every 2-3 miles, the volunteers were cheery despite being out in the cold rain in a breezy canyon. Lots of porta potties.
  3. Super fun group of runners who clearly love running, love the community and actively support each other. There were runners doing their 200th marathons, their 300th marathons, 100th marathons etc.

Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you

  1. It rained for the full first hour of the run which was fine since I trained in Seattle through the winter but I still could have done without it 🙂 But hey, it cleared up soon after and the next 5 hours were lovely! They had an indoor facility near the start where you could wait until the race start time because the start was 1/3 mile from this indoor location.
  2. I was not prepared for the camber (tilt) of the road and since 19 miles is through the canyon the road tilt threw off my strides and further strained my already injured hammy which was painful.

Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?


Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?

  1. I was really chill mentally before the race, I felt well prepared thanks to the training runs and a great conversation with Matt before the run.
  2. I had my Bill Bryson audio book to keep me company. He had me laughing out loud pretty often.
  3. I liked chatting with fellow runners and this group of runners was small with 177 runners total which gave it a homey feel.
  4. I did not expect the sharp tilt of the road and neither did I anticipate my hammy would start bothering me fairly early on in the race. Once it started to act up though, I re-calibrated and decided to slow down so I finished the run without exacerbating the injury.

Lessons Learned – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner or yourself on the next time around

It is mostly a downhill run with two hills. The first hill was at mile 14 and manageable. The second hill is a little after mile 21 and you begin to descend at mile 23. The hills are gradual but boy was it a relief to see the descent at mile 23!

If you run on flat pavement during your training runs, like I did, be prepared for the road tilt. It can significantly alter your stride and result in unexpected strains and a slower pace.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

  • Prepare for the tilt.
  • It is a quiet, peaceful run because there are no spectators. Know this going in, because if you are motivated by interactions with spectators, this is not the race for you.
  • It is a BQ certified course.
  • 4 women and 35 men finished in under 4 hours. Most runners were over the age of 60.

Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?

Super well oiled machine! Race Directors Bob and Lenore Dolphin are in their 80’s and clearly passionate about running and making sure the runners are taken care of very well. They even had bag drops at the start which you could pick up at the end.
They offer early starts and the race management teams cruised up and down the canyon throughout the run to make sure everyone was doing well.

Logistics – Anything special regarding getting to/from the race, hotels around the course, registration…?

The race starts in Ellensburg and there are a few hotels around there which lets you get to the start line in 10 mins or so. I stayed in Yakima which meant I took the 6 am bus to the start line. We drove back to Yakima from the finish line which was just a 15 min drive.

Registration was online with same day packet pick up. They closed registration 1-2 days before the race.

Weather and typical race conditions

April in Yakima brings variable weather. Some years they had sleet and snow while we had some rain and then cloudy with a little sun here and there. The low was 45 and the high was 60.

yakima river marathon race report

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

Not many opportunities for spectators since the course goes through a canyon and the road is closed off. So people can see you off at the start and the end.

How’s the swag?

A nice baseball style cotton t-shirt with the Yakima River Run logo. They run pretty large so going down a size or 2 is recommended! Nothing else. All finisher cert’s can be printed online. Low key on the swag which is fine by me because I don’t like too much stuff.

The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?

Absolutely run it.
It is a really pretty course.

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