- Drake Park and Mirror Pond
- Wall Street and Tower Theater
- Bend Whitewater Park
- Old Mill District
- Deschutes River Trail
- Les Schwab Amphitheater
- Deschutes Brewery
- Views of the Cascade Range
- West Bend Trail
When people think of Bend, as a runner or tourist, my guess is that items on this list are regularly brought up. I know that when I think of traversing over to the high desert for a day or weekend, my mind cycles through my favorite running locations and it wanders to a variety of these locations. Shoot, the last three times I have been to Bend were:
- Ryan Adams concert at the aphitheater and dinner in the Old Mill District
- Haircut on Wall Street and a run in western Bend, along parts of the West Bend Trail
- 5k event on the Deschutes River Trail and beer from Deschutes
I have knocked these out of the park!
But not everyone is as lucky as I am to live in relative proximity (just over 2 hour trip) and have work and family obligations there. So not everyone may be as familiar with all the awesomeness that Bend provides. The 2017 Bend Marathon, with their new (and improved, in my opinion) course took a great event and made it off-the-charts-impressive in just it’s 3rd year.The race once again started (and finished) on the Brooks Street promenade, a prime location for 1800+ runners to congregate, drink coffee, warm-up and get ready. The temperatures were chilly at race start for the half (and definitely for the full), but not overbearing and completely dry – something that us Willamette Valley runners were stoked about. The sky was also promising to be blue with periods of cloud – which proved to provide the perfect overall weather for this race. Thanks Mother Nature!
As the half runners took off, we immediately entered Riverside Blvd right along Drake Park and essentially circled Mirror Pond within the first 1.5 miles. We then entered the half-closed Wall Street, offering a unique quiet running setting on this normally busy main street. Just after mile 2.5, runners entered the new-ish Miller’s Landing Park and got to see the cool new Whitewater Park. The next 2 miles are probably some of the most heavily ran paths in the city – utilizing the Deschutes River Trail to pass by the Old Mill shopping district, cross over at Farewell Bend Park, and circle back through Riverbend Park to the amphitheater. While I have ran this location many times – enough that I choose to avoid it when I’m in town now – it was a fantastic showcase and something that undoubtedly was imperative for all of the out of state and country runners to experience.
I knew from personal experience (and the elevation chart) that, beginning with the Haul Trial near Deschutes Brewery, there was gonna be a steady elevation gain for the next 4 miles. I managed to pace myself OK for the most part, and while I wasn’t necessarily looking forward to the climb, I was looking forward to the course as this is one area of Bend that I haven’t really explored before. With the views of Mt. Bachelor in the distance (the Sisters were partially marred by low clouds), the suburban neighborhoods gave way to scattered mansions, high desert landscapes, and quiet solitude. You can bet I will be back here running this summer.
The final few miles consisted of running through the new Summit West neighborhood and Discovery Park before hooking up with the West Bend Trail and a short suburban jaunt before crossing over the Mirror Pond bridge and finishing with cheering crowds lining the final stretch to the finish line.
I think the only negative of the entire day (and I personally don’t even consider it a negative) is that the course ran long (somewhere around 13.5 – 13.6 miles) due to a volunteer directing runners to completely circle Discovery Park.
After the event, there were free Deschutes pints for the finishers, local food, free samples, and lots of big smiles! In my books, the 2017 event was an absolute joy. Runners from 30+ states and 4 countries participated this year, a number that is sure to rise. It sold out prior to race day, so I highly recommend tracking this race and signing up early so you don’t miss out!