Half MArathon runners start at the 2012 Columbia Gorge Marathon.
Photo by Ben McCarty.
While the sky threatened rain for much of the morning Sunday, most of the hundreds of participants in the Columbia Gorge Marathon managed to finish before the weather rolled in.
“You could not have scripted it better," said race director Chad Sperry. "With the rainbows the weather we got and the peak of the fall foliage.”
Rain swept over the course toward the end but by that point, Christopher Martin of New Jersey was long finished.
The 36-year-old Lawrenceville resident finished in 2:41:09, 19 minutes ahead of the next closest competitor.
Heather Pola of Hood River was the first woman across the line in 3:27:56.
Pola’s win capped off a steady rise for the 39-year old Hood River runner.
She won the women’s half-marathon in 2009 and took second in the women’s marathon last year.
A local resident also won the men’s half-marathon, as Leo Castillo dashed across the line in 1:12:56, five minutes ahead of the next finisher.
The marathon started at 9 a.m. under a slight drizzle, as did the half-marathon a half hour later.
But by 10 a.m. moisture had mostly cleared as the runners moved east along the Twin Tunnels trail, through Mosier and on to the Historic Columbia River Highway.
Martin led the whole way, running solo except for occasionally passing a half-marathon runner.
Sperry said around 1,200 runners signed up between the marathon, half-marathon and team half marathon and that the event organizers had received plenty of positive feedback.
Sperry said around 1,000 runners actually participated in the race, which he blamed on a poor weather forecast. But the weather wound up being nearly perfect, and Sperry expects the race to expand next year.
“Next year we could see 1,400 to 1,500," he said.