Columbia Gorge Marathon keeps moving into third year

October 19, 2011

Columbia Gorge Marathon organizer Leslie Cogswell is going through some of the last-minute preparations. That includes entering in a batch of 87 last-minute registrations for this Sunday's race.

"It's amazing to me," she said, wondering how the entrants were going to prepare for a marathon in a week.

That's just the kind of pull the Gorge has in the fall months.

The marathon returns for its third year, and is again expected to draw around 1,000 participants between the full marathon, half-marathon and two-person team half-marathon.

Those last-minute registrations also picked the perfect year to make late plans to run a marathon.

The start of the marathon has been moved for the third time. After starting near the Event Site in its inaugural year, it moved to the Hood River marina last year. This year the start will be at the Mark Hatfield trailhead, which not only avoids any potential traffic hang-ups at the exit 64 interchange, but also saves runners an immediate climb to the Hatfield trail.

Runners will be bused from the finish area at the marina green up to the trailhead; a logistical challenge Cogswell said the marathon is ready to undertake this year.

"We just were not ready to undertake that logistically the first couple of years," she said.

Runners will be descending on Hood River from 39 states, as well as from Canada, Ireland and Sweden.

While adults are running the 26.2 miles (or 13.1 for those doing the half), children will be running 1.2 miles at the marina to complete a cumulative marathon they have been running over the course of the school year.

They will get prize packs from Providence and Gorge Spine as well as their own cheerleading squad at the finish line.

Last year the kids' marathon went off during a torrential rainstorm that hammered the marathon before giving way to blue skies.

"The weather looks like it's going to be better than last year," Cogswell said. "It can't be much worse than it was during that last year."

Come rain or shine, the runners will again be greeted at the finish with soup, bread, tacos and space blankets.

"It's incredible the support we get locally," Cogswell said. "More and more people are finding out about it."

The marathon starts at 9 a.m. Sunday morning from the Hatfield trailhead, sending runners to Mayer State Park before looping them back around to finish at the Hood River marina.

The kids' marathon will be at 9:45 a.m. at the marina.

Buses will begin to shuttle runners to the start at 7 a.m.

Cogswell said the marathon could still use a few more volunteers for Saturday night packet sign-up at Shortt Supply in downtown Hood River. Runners who feel the urge to give the marathon a go can still sign up for the full, half or two-person team at the packet pickup.

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