Last year’s Columbia Gorge Marathon drew close to 1,200 people to Hood River and the Gorge. For logistic and traffic purposes, the event this year, set for Oct. 28, will be capped at 1,000 runners. Organizers are expecting that cap to be reached and are excited to promote what is labeled as one of the most scenic marathon courses in the nation.
And despite recent reports indicating that part of the route could be closed for the next several weeks due to a recent wildfire, organizers from Breakaway Promotions are moving forward as planned and are optimistic the course will reopen in time for the event.
“As you may be aware, the fire season is quite active this year and has impacted many of the Gorge residents and events in our area,” said Chad Sperry of Breakaway Promotions. “The Milepost 66 Fire has temporarily closed a portion of the course due to the impacts of the fire on the landscape of the surrounding slopes.”
The Milepost 66 Fire started Sept. 25 along the railroad tracks about two miles east of Hood River. The fire spread uphill and overtook a section of the Historic Columbia River Highway before being fully contained at about 70 acres a few days later. Although the fire was a relatively low-intensity blaze, it burned enough material above a section of the historic highway to create issues with falling rocks and debris.
“We are in communication with Oregon State Parks as to the progress of reopening this section,” Sperry said. “They are working diligently to open it prior to the marathon event date. We are also putting “plan B” into action, just in case. This is a route that will start and finish at the same locations and will travel through the scenic Hood River Valley along rolling orchard-lined roads with amazing panoramic views.”
Both the marathon and half marathon routes start and end at the Hood River Marina and utilize the Historic Highway. The half marathon is a 13.1-mile out and back to Mosier; the full marathon (26.2 miles) continues on to Mayer State Park before heading back to Hood River.
Oregon State Parks and Recreation representative Mark Stevenson said last week that “it should take us a good two weeks to clear the trail. It could take another month or so of daily rock removal to keep the road clear and safe. It is also dependent upon the weather. Once the rains come, we’ll have a lot of dirt and debris coming down.”
With numbers expected to reach capacity, pre-registration is required and will close on Oct. 26. The run will start at 9 a.m. for the full marathon and 9:30 a.m. for the half.
For more information or to register visit www.columbiagorgemarathon.com.
In addition to the 26.2-mile marathon and the 13.1-mile half marathon, a third event is designed specifically for kids. As an extension of the Columbia Gorge Marathon, kids have an opportunity between now and race day to complete a marathon on their own and log their daily progress. On Oct. 27, the kids event will culminate with a 1.2-mile run at the Hood River Marina in which young runners will finish at the same stage and with the same crowd as adult participants. Log sheets, rules and additional information are available online at www.columbiagorgemarathon.com.