I can only speak to the half marathon distance, but I thought the course was an ideal combination of challenging and rewarding.While the half is well-attended, there is also a marathon in effect too (as well as a dog-friendly half and a team marathon relay). Active.com did a story on the 10 Must-Do Marathons in the World, of which this race is headlined alongside races in Patagonia and South Africa. Active.com describes it as such:
Offering spectacular views of Oregon's fall foliage during peak season, the Columbia Gorge Marathon is one of the most scenic races in the country. Taking runners down the Historic Columbia River Highway and through the gorge, the race finishes at the Port of Hood River's Marine Park. A region that was carved out millions of years ago by Ice Age flooding, the canyon gets as deep as 4,000 feet and runs 80 miles to create a natural border between Washington and Oregon. As you navigate the 26.2-mile distance, you'll be treated to stunning vistas overlooking the river, as well as free-flowing waterfalls and charming small towns.
Both races are out-and-back in Hood River and starts east along the Columbia Gorge Highway. Half marathoners will turn around at the Mosier Twin Tunnels and marathoners will run through the town of Mosier and hit the Rowena Viewpoint at Mayer State Park. Not only will we be running through the turning of the leaves, but there will be vistas to breathe in and waterfalls to marvel at. Check out the race course for the Marathon and Half Marathon.
There will be 10 aid stations along the course for the marathon and 5 for the half. Check out this nifty little webpage that shows there “where’s” and “what’s” of each aid station. Also note that there is no parking at the start line. Beginning at 7am, shuttles will run every 10 minutes and will pick up participants from the Hood River Marina Lawn, which is adjacent to the finish line.
Following the race, there will be a great post-race celebration. Runners will get to partake in the food and for $7.00, spectators will be able will be fed all the same local Columbia Gorge food. Speaking of local, the finisher’s medals are made by hand from a local artist. 1/4 zip tech shirts can be purchased with registration, but all runners will receive a commemorative logo tech beanie. There is Portland race pick-up on October 23 at Foot Traffic and Hood River packet pick-up on October 24. If you are wanting to find a local place to stay, there is a great page about accommodations and restaurants as well.
Race registration is capped at 1500, and from the looks of things, it will not disappoint. I am super pumped that I am going to be out there. Follow the race on Facebook for updates.
Columbia Gorge Marathon and Half (Hood River)
When: October 25, 2015 at 9a for full and 930a for half
Where: Mark O. Hatfield West Trail Head
Register: Online here; $95 for Half, $110 for Full