A new local marathon (and half marathon) is making its debut on Sunday, May 6th. The Willamette Valley Marathon in Salem boasts some incredible scenery and looks to be fairly flat. Starting in front of the Oregon State Capitol, both the full and the half marathon will run through downtown Salem to the Willamette River before taking runners through 3 different parks: Riverfront Park, Wallace Marine Park, and Minto-Brown Island Park – each with its own unique scenery and feel. The marathon course will then lead runners out on to River Road – a flat scenic road that will take runners along farmland before returning them back to paved trails in Minto-Brown Island Park and to the finish at Riverfront Park.
Both courses are 100% paved. The marathon has a total elevation gain of 350 feet, while the half marathon has a gain of just 150 feet. The course description and the minimal elevation gain were the 2 factors that won me over and convinced me to register for the half marathon. And since I haven’t run a half marathon since January of 2015, this is kind of a big deal for me. And I’m super excited! I asked Matt a little bit about what to expect from this race, as he lives and runs in Salem. Here’s a little bit of what he said:
I am very excited about this course – so much so that I decided to register for the full marathon. I think it’s great that Salem is becoming a tiny less rigid for local events, and the fact that they are starting this race on the capital mall and then temporarily closing city streets for runners is pretty neat. It wasn’t too many years ago that this was a no-no!
I think this course is about as great as they come for Salem. There are four main parks in Salem and this race runs through three of them. In fact, these three parks are actually all separated by water and, with the opening of a new pedestrian bridge last summer, are now all interconnected! As soon as that was opened, I knew Salem was destined for a marathon.
Wallace Marine Park is actually pretty well known for hosting major softball tournaments, and though it’s not the largest or best park in the world for running, there are paved walkways and a hopeful future of bark trail expansion. Runners will quickly circle this park and head into Riverfront Park – the main public space in the city.
Riverfront Park is nestled along the Willamette and hosts a variety of concerts, festivals, and shows throughout the year. In the next few years the ampitheater will receive a major renovation to lure big national acts to this awesome backdrop. Runners will then head over the new bridge into Minto Brown Park – one of the best areas in the State (!) to lose yourself on trails.
Minto Brown is actually larger than Central Park in New York and features miles upon miles of paved, gravel, and even bark and dirt trails. Every few months I see new signs and temporary trails – which leads me to think that it will continue to grow. Runners will meander through this park on both the “out” and the “back” and get to experience the awesomeness.
The course will be supported for 6 hours and is open to walkers. There will be aid stations available every 3 miles along the course – including port-a-potties. Participants will receive a race shirt, a finisher medal, and a commemorative wine glass. There will also be apparel and wine glasses available for purchase post-race.
If you would like to participate in this race but just aren’t ready for a half or full marathon, you can register for the Half Marathon Relay. In the relay, two runners split the half marathon distance with an exchange at Minto-Brown Island Park.
This event is going to coincide with the Willamette Valley Wine Festival in Riverfront Park. So, stick around after the race for wine tastings, a catered lunch, and more. Details on the Wine Festival are coming soon. This looks to be a fun, festive post-race celebration along with Willamette River. I look forward to seeing you on race day!
Registration is capped at 1000 and the event is currently over half-full, so register soon! There will be no day of race registration.
Willamette Valley Marathon Details
Date: Sunday, May 6
Location: Oregon State Capitol, 900 Court St NE, Salem
Time: 9:00 A.M.
Entry Fees: $90* – Half marathon
$100* – Marathon
$110* – Half Marathon Relay (per person)
*After April 22, add $10 to the price
Race Website: Click Here