I am going to guess that many of us have run in some of Oregon’s name-recognition races – Shamrock Run, Portland Marathon, and Eugene Marathon. It’s always amazing to see the diversity of people coming to our great state to experience some great running areas. It’s also a favorite thing of mine to travel and check out new cities and courses. The Michelob ULTRA Tacoma City Marathon is in its 14th year and should features some beautifully scenic running.
In 2019, there were almost 170 full, 420 half, and even 23 50k finishers. This is a nice sized field without being overwhelming or chaotic. During our trip to cover and showcase Hotel Interurban (a place you should stay if you register for this race), we ended up driving out to the Port Defiance Zoo – and unwittingly just realized that our jaunt out there was on this course. TO be honest, I remember driving along Ruston Way and looking longingly at the runners on this course. Now I know there is an actual race that will allow me to do just this!
The course is looped and starts and finishes at Point Ruston, which looked to be a brand new area on the Bay. Had we not been on a time crunch to go home, we were considering coming back to check out the restaurants and area. It is described as a “picturesque entertainment and recreation hub is situated along Commencement Bay with panoramic views of the Puget Sound”.
Runners will head into Point Defiance Park, with was beautiful even in the winter months. There are over 700 acres of beautiful gardens and old growth forests. I am happy to see that this is at the beginning of the race, as I remember there being some rolling hills throughout the park. After this, runners will spend a lot of time on Ruston Road, which should provide amazing views of the waterfront and even Mt. Rainier in the distance. The marathon turnaround point will be right in downtown on Dock Street and I can attest that this out-and-back stretch is really flat and should provide a second half worthy for a PR (or a BQ). Ultra participants will add a 4.8 mile loop at the marathon turnaround point on the Tacoma Tide Flats. There are also relay options as well, if you are wanting to team up with someone else.
While the marathon and ultra are pretty straightforward, there are some other unique opportunities. There are actually two half marathon options – a standard distance and the “BIG” half, which measures 13.7 miles and has runners tackle the Baltimore St. Hill a short, but tough, climb. While this may not matter to everyone, it may be of interest to those who are looking to receive 4 – yes 4! – medals on race weekend.
If you run the 5k on Saturday morning (starting at 730am) and then take on the full or half Ghost of Tacoma (which is an additional option to run a casual marathon – i.e. no mile markers and only one aid station) – perfect for Marathon Maniacs or Half Fanatic seekers – you will receive two medals. On Sunday, you would net your large medal, and if you take on the BIG Half would get you a beautiful coin in the middle to complete the look (see below for an example).