Side note: The 2014 race is on Sunday, November 2nd. Get the details in Annette's post here. This is my recap from the 2013 race, which was so beautiful that I wanted to be sure and pass it along again for anyone who isn't familiar with this event.
Kelly Barten in the first few miles at the 2013 Klickitat Trail Half Marathon.Scott McMullen
We drove to the race on Saturday morning, leaving Beaverton around 7:30a and arriving at the finish line (to pick up my bib) around 9:20a. Next time we do this race, I think I'll stay the night before and after at the Inn of the White Salmon
in White Salmon, Wash - not just to cut down on drive time but so I don't feel rushed to get on the road afterwards. Our 18-month old really needed a nap, so McDonald's and hitting the road won out over going to Everybody's Brewing or Killer Burger! I also would have been able to turn around quickly and get all the things I forgot: my iPod and my water bottle.
My husband drove me back down to the start, along with Columbia Gorge Running Club
website coordinator Stan Holman. His wife, who just ran 50 miles ON A TRACK last week in honor of turning 50, let me borrow her water bottle (thanks Esther!).
The bus shuttles with the runners pulled into the trailhead right at 10a. Runners piled out and lined up for the porta-potties; some started warming up and many just stood around chatting with other runners. Organizer Lynda Esaacson announced the race would start at 10:15a - and sure enough, after a few quick instructions we were off!
Only light sprinkles fell during the race, and a gusting tailwind was welcomed as we started out running right along the Klicktat River. A few times, a gust of wind sent showers of golden leaves down over the runners, creating a fairy-tale course. The steep banks of the river were covered in oak trees, some of whose canopies opened up level with the trail. Running at the pace I was holding, I was able to look down the canyon at the river and see many fishing platforms erected by the native tribes that still use traditional fishing methods.
Heidi Cordoza at the 2013 Klickitat Trail Half Marathon. Cordoza also worked as a volunteer, marking the race course the prior day. Later, I found out that she had taken time out of her race to sit with a girl who’d injured her knee, waiting with the girl until the ATV arrived to take her to the finish. Scott McMullen
For the first few miles, the surface is one of crushed rock. By the first aid station at mile 3, there were some bigger rocks on the trail, and I tweaked my ankles a few times but was feeling fine. The stark contrasts between the dark rocks and brilliant leaves made the trail beautiful.
Miles 3-6 required a bit more concentration as the trail switched between mud and rocks and just plain rocks. Here I caught up to a woman named Heidi, who is running a marathon for every letter in the alphabet and had run the Hagg Hybrid Marathon I help organize. She’s looking for a marathon starting with U and with X, if you know of any – preferably in the Pacific Northwest.
Another aid station at Mile 6 started a section of trail that reminded more more of Central Oregon as we angled away from the river for a bit. Still rocky, but beautiful. Right as the trail joined back up with the river on a wide bend, I spotted a runner sitting on a log alongside the trail. She’d fallen – hard – and was bleeding; but the Sheriff’s vehicle tracking the course had seen her and a 4-wheeler was on the way to pick her up, she said. I told her I hoped she won wine in the raffle and kept on my merry way.
As I caught up to a man wearing a neon orange jacket, I wondered exactly where we were on the course. “Have we passed mile 8 yet?” I asked him and he said, “Oh yeah! Mile 9 is right up there!” The trail itself has permanent mile markers, I just managed to miss a few of them and was pretty happy to hear I was further along than I thought.
The third and final aid station was at Mile 9, where I refilled Esther’s water bottle and kept on going. Even if I didn’t have my Gu, I would have been fine – this race offered ultra-style fare at aid stations including peanut butter and jelly, orange and banana slices, and were ready to refill water bottles.
The finisher’s medal for the 2013 Klickitat Trail Half Marathon.Kelly Barten
Mile 10 was also the marked starting line for the 5k. Trying to do the math in my head, I thought I might be able to still finish faster than 2:30, but only if I picked it up. The 11th mile (the first mile of the 5k) made that really difficult. The rocks seemed to redouble their efforts in tripping me up, and the trail whittled down to narrow single track. It wasn’t really difficult – but you really have to keep an eye on the trail. By now I was getting sore, but wasn’t tired yet!
The whole last mile runs alongside the highway, which doesn’t see much traffic, so the soundtrack was mainly provided by goats at farms by the trail. I caught up with another legendary CGRC member, Bryan Mears, which was a great boost of motivation in my last mile – you can’t run with Mears and not end up in a good mood.
We crossed over the highway – I knew the finish line must be close, but it still snuck up on me! In the last quarter mile, runners who’d already gotten their finisher medals watched for friends and gave everyone a cheer.
Kelly Barten crossing the finish line with Eliza – at the 2013 Klickitat Trail Half Marathon. Esther Holman
When I got close enough to read the clock, it was showing 2:30:31, so I knew I’d missed my goal of a sub-2:30 finish, but I was still feeling pretty good. My toddler got to run the last 10 feet or so with me (and was really confused why everyone was watching us), which was really fun. I got my really cool wooden finisher medal from a volunteer and then headed inside for some dry clothes and warm soup. I even won a prize in the raffle!