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Bridge of the Gods Half Marathon

the Silver Strider online presents

Race Reports 

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    7210 Greenlake Dr N, Seattle, WA
   16095 Cleveland St., Redmond, WA

 

Bridge of the Gods Half Marathon

Nanci Larsen - finisher    by Nanci Larsen

8/20/16 – Stevenson

I’ve always wanted to run a race across a large body of water.  While researching new places to run a half marathon, I came across The Bridge of The Gods.  If you ever saw the motion picture Wild which starred Reese Witherspoon, you will know how excited I was to discover this run. The movie portrays the memoirs of a woman’s solo trek on the Pacific Crest Trail from the California Mojave Desert to the Bridge of the Gods.  I then convinced my dear friends Molly Childs and Marsha Murray to join me on this adventure.  Maybe I should name it our Wild Girls Weekend!

Bridge of the Gods we 3 at the finish (4) (2)

Left to right: Nanci Larsen, Molly Childs, and Marsha Murray

 

Just a bit of history about the area.  The Bridge of the Gods is a cantilever bridge spanning the Columbia River between Stevenson on the Washington side and Cascade Locks on the Oregon side.  It has an overall bridge length of 1,858 feet.  It was built in 1926 and then raised in 1938 to accommodate the rising pool behind the Bonneville Dam. Currently the Bridge of the Gods is a toll bridge allowing motor and foot traffic crossing for the Pacific Crest Trail.

The bridge occupies a place where, according to Indian legend, a natural bridge at one time arched the river. This bridge, they say, was cast into the river when Tyhee Sahale, the Supreme Being, became angry with his two sons, who had quarreled over the beautiful Loo Wit, guardian of a sacred flame on the bridge. The two sons and the girl, crushed in the destruction of the bridge, whose debris created the Cascades, were resurrected as Mount Hood, Mount Adams, and Mount St. Helens.

Our adventure began at packet pickup where runners picked up their race shirts, bibs and bus ticket for the ride across the bridge in the morning.  With 19 selections of departures times, it accommodated everyone from the early risers to the sleepy heads that wanted to catch the last bus out of town at 7:39 am.  The half marathon began at 8 am (the 10K at 8:30) on the Washington side of the river.

Thinking we were a long way from home, we didn’t realize we would run into other runners we knew.  While standing around, I looked up to see Linda and Allen Walker, two of the newest members of our Silver Strider family.  Linda was running the 10K and Allen was joining us on the Half.  Molly (a former resident of Texas) ran into a couple from Texas and had a great chat.  Marsha ran into John, a local running friend she has run Rock and Roll half marathons and other races with. Like they say “it’s a small world after all”!  Just prior to the race start the Half Fanatics and Marathon Manics gathered for a group photo.

Bridge of the Gods Half Fanatics (3) (1)

 

Runners were treated to amazing views while crossing this scenic bridge.

Bridge of the Gods scenery (1)

 

If you’re brave, you can look through the bridge grating and see the water way down below or just look to the sides and enjoy your crossing.  Molly relayed the story of one runner who was petrified about crossing the bridge.  She saw two runners each take an arm and help her cross the bridge.  After seeing her safely across the bridge, they went on their way.  Who says runners don’t watch out for each other.

Bridge of the Gods runners heading out on the bridge (1)

 

The course consists of rolling hills and is moderate in difficulty (just long on the up hills; great on the down hills) on a closed pathway for the majority of the course. The elevation gain is pretty gradual on the course. The 10K has just over 400 ft of gain, but the Half Marathon has 1050 ft gain.  Following our bridge crossing we connected with the Columbia River Highway State Park Trail. Runners were able to keep cool during the hot August weather by running under a thick shaded canopy of old growth forest.  We crossed 4 bridges and creeks as well as a set of 61 stairs.

Aid stations and portable restrooms were placed approximately every 1 to 1.5 miles along the race course.  Aid stations provided runners with water, Gatorade, bananas, oranges, GU, gummy bears, Goldfish crackers and pretzels so we stayed well hydrated and well fed.

This was an out and back course with the last mile running through the town of Cascade Locks and Marine Park to the finish on Thunder Island. We were treated to a great lunch of Korean style grilled chicken, tropical jasmine rice, orzo pasta salad, sliced baguettes and cookies.

Bridge of the Gods runners celebrating at the finish line (1)

 

Each runner received a commemorative finisher’s medal that was handmade by local gorge artist Mike Scrivens.  The top 3 men and women for both the marathon and half received a handmade ceramic fish.  The only downfall was there were 10 year age categories; otherwise our Molly would have taken home a first place finish!  We three were all a bit concerned about taking on this half due to lack of training.  After completing the race with successful times, Molly decided that we have been doing too much pre-training.

From packet pick up to the post race activities, I cannot say enough wonderful kudos to Breakaway Productions, the event organizers.  I think all three of us would highly recommend this race to anyone seeking fun, natural beauty and a memorable experience.  I’d love to run this half again next year, so let’s meet at Cascade Locks on August 13, 2017.  There is a short video of the race on the Bridge of the God Marathon Facebook page plus other photos.  Enjoy – we certainly did!

 

 

 

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