When someone asks me why I would pay to run a race when I can just run for free, I never quite know what to say, but I do know that a race will draw me in very quickly when it offers a course that is typically reserved for cars and just for this event is specially closed for the runners. Courses that take car bridges are therefore very high on my list of interesting races! I’ve crossed the Pensacola Bay Bridge in Florida, the Coronado Bay Bridge in San Diego, several of Portland’s bridges, and also the Astoria-Megler Bridge crossing the Columbia River during the Great Columbia Crossing 10k race.
For the past 33 years, runners have gathered in early fall to take on the Great Columbia Crossing. The USATF certified 10 follows a point to point course, therefore shuttle buses are taking participants from the finish area at the Astoria Riverwalk to the start at the Dismal Nitch Rest Area on the Washington side of the river. The run doesn’t start until 8:45am, but since there is no parking at the start, allow plenty of time to use the shuttle across the bridge. The first shuttle leaves the start area at 6:30am, and participants must be in line for the shuttle no later than 7:30am to be guaranteed a ride to the start. There is additional parking and shuttle service to and from the Port of Chinook in Washington, about 4 miles west of the start line at Dismal Nitch. It is important for runners to familiarize themselves with the schedule of events so they don’t miss out.
At the start area there will be plenty of porta-potties, a water station, music, group warmup, and a “sweat bus” to carry your warmup clothes from the start line to the finish. There are no bags allowed on the bridge (including cinch bags, fanny packs, and backpacks), and there are no water stations on the course either, so be sure you hydrate before the race and consider carrying a water bottle. There will be a water station right at the finish line. The race is open to athletes of all speeds, but there is a two hour time limit in order to reopen the bridge to traffic by 11am.
The course starts with a rolling mile along the river before turning onto the Astoria Megler Bridge. The miles are marked along the way. The bridge stays mostly flat until the very steep incline up this longest continuous truss bridge in North America. You will reach the peak of the bridge around the mile 4 marker, at which point you will start hearing the music at the finish line. The next mile is a downhill off the bridge towards the Astoria Riverwalk, and after passing the finish area the final mile is a quick out and back along the Riverwalk.
After finishing, runners can expect a snack and a drink, music, and an awards ceremony at 11am. As part of the swag bag at packet pickup, participants receive five “clam bucks” which they can spend at any time during the weekend at participating Chamber member businesses. For updated information, you can join the event page on Facebook.
Great Columbia Crossing details:
When: Sunday, October 11th.
Start time: 8:45am – Be in line for the shuttle to the start no later than 7:30 am.
Where: Port of Astoria
What: 10k point to point bridge run
Registration: Online here or in person at Astoria Warrenton Chamber of Commerce
Registration cost: $45 for chip-timed runners and run/walkers; $40 for non-timed walkers. Free for children 8 and under.
Registration includes: chip timed race, entertainment before and after the race, post-race food and drink. Long sleeve tshirts available for $16; Athletic shirts available for $22
Packet Pickup: October 8-10, 9am-6pm at Astoria Warrenton Chamber of Commerce; on race day 6-7am at Port of Astoria