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Race Preview: 2016 Vernonia Marathon & Half

Sunday April 10th, 2016 is the date of the 11th annual Oregon Road Runners Club Vernonia Marathon and Half Marathon. The marathon and half marathon are the 2016 RRCA State Championships for Oregon and is USATF certified. This Boston Marathon qualifier is run on a point-to-point course situated along the Banks-Vernonia State Trail. Sitting about 40 miles northwest of Portland along the Nehalem River is the picturesque town of Vernonia, Oregon. Vernonia has a rich history as a logging town and has miles and miles of scenic trails, just perfect for biking and running. Put on your shoes, grab your friends and family and enjoy the mostly flat course and the camaraderie of fellow runners. Most of the marathon and half marathon course runs along the paved trail, through scenic woods on an abandoned railroad bed. The marathon course starts at Cedar Ridge Retreat Center while the half marathon course starts inside Stub Stewart State Park. Runners from both races will join up at mile 2. The race will finish on the track at Kelly Field at Banks High School.

The start area of the ORRC Vernonia Half Marathon.

New this year is the implementation of the Bibs app with chip timing. You can download the app for your Apple or Android device from the Apple or Google store for free, as they are sponsoring the race. You can get your race results immediately and share them with friends and family via Facebook, email or text. As always, the results will be posted on the ORRC website after the race and published in the Oregon Distance Runner magazine.

As with any race, it takes volunteers to help make the event successful. Some of the volunteer groups at this year’s race are: Vernonia High School (course marshals and aid stations in Vernonia) the Banks Soccer Club (course marshals and aid stations in Banks), the Forest Grove Swim Club (course marshals and aid stations in Banks) and the Vernonia Boosters who are providing hot soup post-race. Please consider volunteering and help to make this day memorable for all involved. Details on how to help are listed below.

The Essentials

Course Information: Check out the Marathon course here and the Half Marathon course here.

To register: Click this link. Online registration ends April 8th at 8:00 am PDT.

To volunteer: Putting on a event with two separate start areas takes a lot of planning and organization. Volunteers are vital to the success of the race and the experience for the runners and their support systems. email For more information on ORRC volunteer opportunities, click here. For more information on ORRC, and to join visit:

Cost: Marathon is $65 and the Half is $40. Day of race registration starts at 6:00 am and is $80 for the Marathon and $50 for the half. Registration is non-refundable and there is no ORRC discount the day of the race.

Packet Pickup: Early packet pickup is available at Banks Middle School (12850 NW Main Street, Banks OR 97106) on Saturday April 9th from 3pm to 6pm. Race day pickup and day of race registration are from 6:00am to 8:00am at BMS. Unclaimed bibs will be brought to Cedar Ridge or Stub Stewart start areas as appropriate.

Race Day Info: Marathoners (runners and walkers) start at 8 a.m.
Half marathoners (runners and walkers) start at 9 a.m. The course closes at 3 p.m. (7 hours). Gatorade, Gu, water and snacks will be available at aid stations along the course. Please be aware that marathoners unable to reach mile 23 by 2:30 pm will be pulled from the course.

Vernonia Finish Line Plaques to the overall male and female winners and the overall male and female masters winners. The top five finishers in each five year age group will earn ribbons. The walk is noncompetitive. Awards will not be mailed. All finishers will receive a medal. Hot soup, baked potatoes, beverages, and snacks will be at Banks Middle School (BMS) after the race. The awards ceremonies and random prize raffles (running gear and pies) will be at 12:30 p.m. and at 2:30 p.m. Showers will be available for free. Bring your own towel. (

Logistics/Parking/Watching the Race: Be advised that the course is open to other runners and walkers and that dogs on the course are prohibited. It is strongly discouraged that runners use headphones or other personal music devices, since the trail is open to other runners and cyclists. If you are bringing is stroller or jogger, please start at the back of the pack for the safety and consideration of other runners. Runners under the age of 15 are discouraged from entering the race.

Buses and shuttles will be employed during the day of the race to shuttle runners to their respective start areas. For more information on the logistics of this, please visit the information page of the Vernonia Marathon and Half Marathon. The first bus leaves at 6:15 am (for the marathon) and the last bus leaves at 7:00 am. Please be advised that if you miss your bus, you are responsible for getting yourself to the starting line.

Friends and family who want to cheer their runner/walker can access the course at the trailheads or wait at Kelly Field at Banks High School. Parking at Stub Stewart is limited, so if you have family or friends planning to watch at the start, be sure to bring extra patience and be considerate of other drivers.

Need some encouragement to join in on the fun? Read a few reviews of past and current participants of the Vernonia Marathon and Half. We hope to see you there!

“I felt the race was very well-directed. The course was clearly marked and signage adequate. Traffic was well-controlled at the Highway 47 crossing just before the half marathon finish. There were plenty of volunteers to help direct runners and to direct traffic along the course.” Helen, of the Tahoe Running Blog

“I had been skeptical about Vernonia, and a bit fearful of a small marathon with relatively small crowd support. But the beautiful scenery, the nice paved path for most of the race, and the blessed gradual downhill from mile 14-20 made me a major fan after running it.”-Mark J. Wilkinson, Vernonia Marathon participant

“This is an absolutely beautiful course, going through the forest of the coastal hills, at a wonderful time of year. The organizers have made some significant improvements this year, starting the run at 8:00 and putting the half-marathon in the second half of the course. The aide stations are well-stocked and frequent. Since there are less than 150 marathoners and virtually no spectators, you may find yourself alone most of the run. But it doesn’t matter; the forest is all the company you need.”- Review of Vernonia Marathon by K.S. on

About Abby Meek (119 Articles)
Abby was raised in Tigard, Oregon and moved to Denver, Colorado in 2007. While in Colorado she ran her first 5K, which led to a 10K, which led to a half-marathon. Abby moved back to her native Oregon in mid- 2015 and has since completed more 5K's, 10K's and more half-marathons. Abby's favorite distances are the 10K and the half marathon.

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