Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Yakima River Canyon Marathon - 2014 Race Report


Several years ago Lenore and I became better acquainted with Kathrine Switzer at the Victoria Marathon in British Columbia, Canada.  As we prepared for the 2014 Yakima River Canyon Marathon (YRCM) on April 5, 2014, our first choices for speakers were Kathrine and her husband Roger Robinson.  We were excited when they accepted our invitation and knew that it would make our 14th annual YRCM  “extra special.”
Bob and Lenore Dolphin

The contribution of this “Dynamic Duo” to the Running Sport is unique.  Kathrine is the first woman to run the Boston Marathon as a registered runner….wearing bib #261.  She did this at the 1967 race in just over four hours.  In 1974 she was the first overall woman finisher in the New York City Marathon.  In a return visit to the Boston Marathon in 1975, she was the second woman overall to finish with a fast time of 2:51:37.  In 1977, Avon Products agreed with her to sponsor a women’s marathon.  This pioneer event was successful, so an international women’s running program was instituted.  As her influence grew, she authored books, provided running commentary by radio and television at races, was in demand as a guest speaker and became a perennial running and racing leader.

Roger Robinson is her partner in running endeavors.  He represented England (1966) and New Zealand (1977) in the World Cross Country Championships.  He won many races in his early career and then excelled as a masters runner.  He won masters division marathons and set records in marathons and shorter events in Boston, New York, Vancouver, BC, Australia, New Zealand and England.  As a professor of English at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, he taught and wrote the large 1998 “Oxford Companion to New Zealand Literature.”  He is a prolific writer on running subjects and his most recent book is “Spirit of the Marathon, the Challenges and the Journey.”  Kathrine and Roger are the co-authors of “26.2 Marathon Stories” which was a popular sale item at their booth at the YRCM.  They also generausly provided some the books as drawing prizes and special awards for our race.  They are a running team, and their presentations were highlights of the marathon weekend.

On the day before the marathon a meeting of the 100 Marathon Club North America was held at the Selah Civic Center race headquarters.  To join the club a runner has to finish 100 marathons and/or ultramarathons.  Reaching the 100 marathon mark by completing the YRCM on race day were:  Herb Allen, 71, of Bainbridge Island, WA; Rich Menzel, 71, of Everett, WA; and David Pearson, 46, of Seattle, WA.  Fran Libasci, 62, of Summit, New Jersey, ran her 150th marathon only two years after running her 100th marathon here in 2012.  Ray Shaw, 56, of Tacoma, WA ran his 200th marathon in the scenic canyon..  He ran his 100th marathon on this course four years earlier in 2010.

It was great to see Joe Henderson again.  He was the guest speaker at several of our marathons and ran his “60’s” marathon here.  To celebrate his 2013 milestone birthday, he came to run his “70’s” marathon in our beautiful Canyon.  We were honored that he chose the YRCM for these two milestone marathons.

It was a treat to see Dan Cummins and his wife Judi of Surrey, BC, as they made their first visit to the YRCM.  I first met Dan about ten years ago when he and Steve King of Penticton, BC, were developing their book, “Running in the Zone, a Handbook for Seasoned Athletes:” in 1994.  They edited the book, and each one wrote a chapter.  I was one of the 24 experienced runners who were invited to make a contribution, and I chose “Goal Setting and Adjusting Expectations” as my topic.  Other contributors to this book at our YRCM weekend were Roger Robinson and Joe Henderson.

At our second YRCM we were pleasantly surprised that 40 runners who were there for our inaugural race returned for #2.  Being one of them, it seemed as if this was a race to get personal “strings” going and maintain it for years to come.  We reward loyalty!  At the 5th race we gave 5-year Ty Vek jackets to the repeaters.  At the 10th year, we gave them royal blue jackets that were donated by our Stewart Subaru sponsor.  This time the twenty who had run all previous races were given copies of “26.2 Marathon Stories,” courtesy of Stewart Subaru.  After the 2014 race, the count is down to 17, an amazing number!   My previous longest, continuous string was 27 years at the Capital City Marathon, Olympia, Washington, from 1985 to 2011.

Highlights of the race were many.  There were two wheelchair athletes in the marathon.  Richard Le, 45, of Bellevue, WA was first in a swift, new course record time of 1:21:33.  He was followed by Ryan Kelling, 34, of Chelan, WA with a time of 2:11:23 for his first marathon.

One advantage of taking an early walking start as I have for three years is seeing the wheelchair racers, the leaders and the entire field go by.  After the two wheelchairs, the first three runners went by….two men and a young woman.  I was surprised!  I had never seen the lead woman run so close to the leaders before.  The race was won by Scott Traver, 23, a student at Eastern Washington University at Cheney, WA and a native of Anchorage, AK.  He won the race with a time of 2:43:56.  He didn’t drive the course ahead of the race, so the first major hill in the 15th mile was a surprise to him.  However, it didn’t slow him down.  In second place, Jeff Hashimoto, 43, Ellensburg High cross country coach, had a personal best of 2:48:01.  He also won the Vaux Shoes “First Local Male” award.  The third place male (fourth overall) was Jim Courrier, 41, of Everett, WA with a 3:01:18.  Tony Phillippi, 52, of Tacoma, Marathon Maniac #3 & Co-Founder was the fourth male and first place in the 50-54 division, 3:06:41.

The women’s race was won by Nicki Hugie-Terry, 29, of Tumwater with a 2:59:01.  She finished THIRD overall!  She, also, saw the course for the first time as she ran it.  Annie Thiessen, 43, of Tacoma, two-time winner at YRCM, returned to marathon running with a 3:13:01 for second place.  In third place was Jacqueline Post, 30, of Spokane Valley who ran a 3:16:21.  Fourth place went to Shannon Deboer, 27, of Boise, ID with a 3:36:55.  Congratulations to the 398 finishers.

For the third, consecutive year, I took a two hour early start and walked every step of the way…..due to a chronic back injury.  I was accompanied by Cathy Troise, 68, long-time friend of the Dolphins from Cohoes, NY.  She is a personal friend of Kathrine Switzer, and we were pleased when Kathrine and Roger stopped their car and walked and talked with us for awhile on the course.  There was good weather, and we finished in 9:22:06, which was 11 minutes faster than my 2013 finishing time.  Because the few runners behind us dropped out in mid-course, we were the last to cross the finish line.  I placed third in the 80-84 Male division and am one of SEVENTEEN who have completed all 14 Yakima River Canyon Marathons.

In the inaugural marathon there was one runner over the age of 80, Ed Burnham, 81, of Kansas City, Missouri.  He was an American Record Holder for 80-84 Men with a time of 4:17:51 (1991).  This year, for the first time, there were five runners over the age of 80, and two of them were in a new age category of 85-89 Male.  Keith Wood, 85, Sultan, WA, ran a 5:49:14 race, and Bill Halm, 86, of Franklin, New Hampshire finished in 8:48:42.  In the 80-84 Male Division were Alan Morton, 83, from Wales, Mel Preedy, 80, of Ravensdale, WA, and Bob Dolphin, 84.

The oldest “first-timer” ever at YRCM was Jack Courrier, 70, of Everett, WA.  He led twelve 70-74 male runners to finish first in the age division with a time of 4:09:18.  His son Jim Courrier, 41, of Everett finished third male overall with a 3:01:19.

Our marathon is a joyous occasion, but it has its somber periods as well.  A year ago I walked most of the marathon with Dr. Mitch Hungate, our dentist and friend from the Renton, Washington, area.  At our encouragement he ran his first marathon at the YRCM in 2011.  He returned in 2012 and 2013.  He was an Ironman Triathlete, so running the marathon distance wasn’t new to him.  He ran many Valley of the Sun Triathlons in the Yakima area and participated in many ironman events all over the country.  He climbed many mountains world-wide and even climbed Mt. Rainier twice on the same day by using different routes.  He and his wife Marilynn were married at the summit of a nearby mountain!  I learned about these things as we walked along the YRCM course and didn’t realize at the time how much these hours of walking and visiting with Mitch would become a treasure to me.

Just one week later Mitch’s vibrant life was cut short when he was killed in an avalanche on Granite Mountain near Snoqualmie Pass.  The 2014 YRCM was dedicated to his memory.  Six friends wore special numbers that day and kept in contact with Marilynn as they were running the marathon.  CJ Swan wore bib #4, Mitch’s 2013 number, and Doug Mowbray, Phillip Kriss, Vince Ayers, Randy Mason, and Matt Ratchen had bibs #5-9.  Stewart Subaru provided “In Memory of Mitch Hungate” buttons with his 2011 race picture for his friends and the volunteers to wear.  Marathon committee member Jennifer Hedges made a beautiful “Mitch Hungate” memorial poster for all to see as they entered the packet pickup room in Selah.  Mitch was loved by many!

Gunhild Swanson of Spokane returned to running our YRCM since the passing of her husband Jack several years ago.  I was pleased that I was one of twenty friends of the Swansons to wear a placard created by Bill Voiland that was dedicated to Jack.  He was a good friend, a megamarathoner, and a fellow ex-Marine.  We miss him!

Gunhild didn’t slow down during her layoff.  In this race she ran a 4:30:12 for first female in the 65-69 age class.  She was the overall winner of two inaugural marathons in the Pacific Northwest.  They were the Columbia River Gorge Marathon on May 31, 1999, at Hood River, Oregon, and the Wings of Gold Marathon at Whidbey Island, Washington, on April 27, 2002.

Fenny Roberts, 61, from Salem, Oregon, commemorated three whom we miss:  Mitch Hungate, Jack Swanson and our daughter Ellen Boyd, 65, of Yakima who passed away suddenly on March 19, 2014.  Ellen followed our other daughter Bobbie Odom, 63, of Browns, Illinois, who died eight months before.  Both of them left a husband, children, step-children and grandchildren who miss them.  We thank our friends who offered condolences.  Hug your loved ones often!

I’m a year “older and slower” but I’m planning to run (walk) marathon #503 at our Yakima River Canyon Marathon on March 28, 2015.  Martin Rudow, Northwest Runner magazine publisher and former editor, will be the guest speaker who will share pictures and thoughts of all of our races as we celebrate the running of the 15th annual YRCM.

Written by Bob Dolphin…..Edited, Typed and Distributed by Lenore Dolphin

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