The Vernonia Marathon & Half Brings the Fast, Flat, and Fun

You like ’em flat and fast? Maybe a little on the downhill side? How about a super supportive atmosphere, a track finish, and a beautiful course?

Now that I have your attention – have you met the ORRC Vernonia Marathon and Half Marathon?

The marathon starts at 8:00AM in Vernonia, at the Cedar Ridge Retreat and runs along the Banks-Vernonia State Trail. Banks-Vernonia State Trail. There are warm places to wait before the race, real bathrooms, and beautiful scenery to enjoy while you mentally prepare for your race. Runners will finish the race on the Banks High School Track. The half marathon starts at 9:00AM inside Stub Stewart State Park at Hilltop and joins the Banks-Vernonia State Trail at mile 2 and also finishes at the school track.

To get to the start, you’ll go to Banks High School to pick up your race bib and, if you purchased one, your race shirt. Then you’ll hop on one of the shuttle buses to get to the start line. The first marathon bus leaves Banks Middle School at 6:15AM and the last bus to Vernonia leaves at 7:00AM.  The first half marathon shuttle leaves at 7:00AM and that last one out to Stub Stewart will leave at 8:00AM.  While there is parking at the actual start, please do park in Banks and take the shuttle bus to your start line and leave the parking at the start for the volunteers and spectators. (You’d need to find a ride to get back there after the race, too – the shuttles only run for the start.)

The race starts out with a pretty solid downhill for the first few miles, then it flattens out as the course hops on the rails-to-trail Vernonia Banks Trail. There is one section of a very, very gradual uphill, which you probably won’t even notice, for miles 9 to 13. Just before the half marathon finish line there is one short, steep hill, aptly named “Tophill” (which makes me think of Lord of the Rings every time I hear it) but after the half marathon finish – flat. From there, the half marathoners are bused back to Banks High School.

Here’s a link to a previous recap!

There are ample aid stations and porta-potties along the course: miles 2, 4, 7, 10, 12, 13, 15.5, 19, 21.5 and 23 are all stocked for your running enjoyment and race support.

After the half marathon finish, the marathoners continue of the Trail, and get to enjoy a pretty solid downhill – you’ll lose over 600 feet of elevation over miles 13-22. The last 2.5-ish miles run into and through the town of Banks, finishing at Banks High School after a full lap on the track. Volunteers are at every intersection to control traffic and keep runners safe and moving, and I’ve found they provide an extra boost of motivation that makes a huge difference at that point in the marathon.

This race is put on by Oregon Road Runners Club, and organized by volunteer Mark Barrett – the same mastermind that organizes the Barrel to Keg Relay. All in all, it’s a great spring marathon and half marathon for a great price. Shirts are available, too – they’ve been really nice the past few years.



What: 2022 Vernonia Marathon & Half Marathon

When: Sunday, April 10th, 2022. Marathon starts at 8:00AM and Half Marathon starts at 9:00AM

Where: Banks High School, 12850 NW Main Street, Banks, OR. Shuttle Buses will be available, as this race is point-to-point.

Cost: Non-members are $95 for marathon, $70 for Half. ORRC members get a $10 discount.

Register: here

About Author

I'm the owner of Healthy Girl Fitness and I'm a personal trainer, certified AFAA group exercise instructor, and an RRCA certified running coach in SW Portland. I am also the mother of two young boys and am on the board at my youngest son's school. I led a relatively inactive life throughout my 20's until I discovered the world of fitness and running. I ran my first marathon in 2006 and haven't looked back since.

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