WALLA WALLA - By the time many people in the Valley have woken, had their first cup of coffee and unfolded their Sunday Union-Bulletin, close to 50 runners from across the United States will have already finished their first 13 mile lap in the inaugural Walla Walla Marathon.
The starting point was Pioneer Park at 8 a.m. for runners from as far away as Iowa, Ohio and Georgia, said event coordinator Dan Elsom. But most were from Washington, Oregon and Idaho, he added.
"It's not like we are drawing a huge amount of people from out of town yet. But I hope as this thing goes on that it will draw a lot more out of town folks," Elsom said. And he hopes the Walla Walla Marathon will be a qualifier for the Boston Marathon.
As for this year, the inaugural was expected to draw some good numbers, with a total of 285 runners registered by Saturday morning. Of those, 48 will attempt to compete the full 26.2 mile marathon. Another 170 will run the half marathon. And the remaining 67 will run a 10K.
"I was only expecting around about 125. And that is all I ordered for medals. And here in the last five weeks it just really took off. I had no idea what to expect," he said.
The runners who opted for the shortest distance will finish first, as the 10K runners are expected cross the finish line just after 9 a.m., followed shortly by the half-marathon runners around 9:40 a.m.
As for the full marathon runners, the first ones are expected to come in about three hours after the 11 a.m. start.
And for those few who do wake up early enough, the starting line will be on the Whitman Street entrance of Pioneer Park at 8 a.m.
Registration is closed, but fans are welcomed.
"I think we got kind of a nice finish line set up there in Pioneer Park. So that will be kind of cool," Elsom said, adding that a live band will also be playing as the finisher straggle in.
After leaving Pioneer Park, the full and half marathon runners will head south on Fern Street, east on Reeser Road, south on Kendall Road, west on Langdon Road, south on Braden Road, west on Old Milton Highway, north on Peppers Bridge Road and continue on to Taumarson Road, south on Winona Lane, east on Gray Lynn Drive, northeast on Havstad Drive, east on Taumarson Road, east on W. Prospect Road, north on S. Howard Street, east on Bryant Avenue, north on S. Division Street, east on Whitman Street and then skirt the eastern perimeter of Pioneer Park to finish at the Alder Street entrance.
The marathon course map is available online at: http://wwmultisports.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/walla-walla-marathon-course.jpg