The benefit of running hills is the view you get at the top. And the Bend Marathon on April 22nd, 2018 proved just that. If you are looking for a flat, fast race, this race is not for you. But if you are looking for an epic, challenging and beautiful marathon experience, this is the perfect one.
Coming into the Bend Marathon, I knew it was going to be challenging but I also knew I was just using it as a training run so I wasn’t going to push it and I was going to enjoy every aspect that the race had to offer. This is something I am not able to easily do when I am pushing it hard in a race. If you have never been to Bend, Oregon, you really need to visit. This city is one of a kind. It is rustic, charming yet modern and hip. It is surrounded by all that nature has to offer; mountains, water and trees galore. When I first arrived for the race I made sure to take in all that Bend has to offer, which includes breweries, distilleries and food galore. What better way to prepare for a marathon then by loading up on all the delicious food this city has to offer?
The next day I hustled to the start line ready and excited to run. The race started in downtown Bend and it was a stunning sunny day. The crowd wasn’t overwhelmingly huge, which I appreciated. Also, everyone seemed ready to have fun. It wasn’t an intimidating crowd but instead smiles and cheering ensued as the race began. With the countdown, off we went with a nice slight downhill to start as we hit the streets of the city.
As I stated with my observations from the start line, everyone in this race was so friendly. I like saying hi and cheering people on around me in races and in this race I had people starting up conversations and chatting with me for miles. I talked to one woman that was running her 48th marathon for six miles! The breathtaking beauty of the course started around mile 6 as we came down towards the river, crossed over it and headed down and along a trail that ran parallel to the water. If you were starting to get tired at this point, this view was a great way to take your mind off your aching legs. Speaking of aching legs, this is also when the hills started. This course doesn’t have slight or short hills, it has steep and long hills! And the reality of this comes pretty quickly!
As we left the river we moved up the paths and sidewalks through the suburbs of the city. Along the way we hit several awesome aid stations filled with drinks, gels and bars. I had the opportunity to try out the new Skout Backcounty gels here and loved the delicious and easy to take down flavor. From here, we climbed up and up and up and luckily I reminded myself that what goes up, must come down, and that it did…a few miles later. We cruised down the trails and began merging with the half marathons where we all took a sharp turn together up a huge hill.
At the top of this hill, the view was unbeatable. It was stunning and made it pretty worth it for the brutal climb. The marathoners branched off and we made our way through incredible neighborhoods before hitting the wide open of the city. Here we climbed hills that showed off the beauty of the mountains surrounding the city. This was by far my favorite view.
From here it was gradual downhill as we made our way back to the city. As we hit the 26 mile sign we went up a hill (cause why not get one more in!?) and crossed through the finish line right where we started. Coming across the line, marathoners were greeted with a hilarious announcer that had great finishing jokes. I didn’t quite comprehend them until minutes after I finished, but he did a fantastic job. There were vendors set up with water, recovery areas and of course, Deschutes Brewing had their delicious beer ready for all the runners!
This marathon was epic. It was beautiful, challenging, and had such a community feel. I loved this race and can’t recommend it enough. I am counting down the months till I get to conquer those hills again!