WALLA WALLA - More than 200 runners will participate in the second annual Walla Walla marathon and half-marathon this Sunday. About 45 runners are registered for the 26.2-mile marathon, and 160 runners for the 13.1-mile race.
The full marathon is a two-loop course, while the half-marathon is one loop. Both courses start and end at Pioneer Park, where a live band at the finish line will greet the runners.
The course heads south from the park in a loop that includes Howard Street, Prospect Avenue, Gray Lynn Drive, the Old Milton Highway, Langdon, Cottonwood and Kendall Roads and Fern Street as it heads back to the park.
Many participants are from Walla Walla and elsewhere in the state, but there are also many runners from several other states, officials said.
"Seventy percent are from Washington State. Eighty-two participants so far are from Walla Walla. We have people registered from Oregon, Idaho, California, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Colorado," said Dan Elsom, race director.
"We are a certified course as a Boston Marathon qualifier, thanks to a lot of work by Gary Rittenbach," Elsom said. Rittenbach is the assistant race director.
Elsom worked to create the Walla Walla marathon last year because he thought it would be good for local athletes and because it would attract more visitors to the city.
"I felt that it would be great for the Walla Walla Valley to have a marathon, and it was a nice complement to the Onion Man Triathlon we put on in May, which is coming up on its 20th anniversary this next year," Elsom said.
Elsom said the race would not be possible without the help of many local volunteers, whose help is greatly appreciated.
"It takes a lot of volunteers to make a great event, and I would say Walla Walla has the best volunteers," he said.
Elsom enjoys organizing the event each year and seeing the runners achieve their personal goals.
"(I like) seeing everyone having a good time, seeing the participants reach a goal that they have been training so hard for, seeing months of planning come together for what I hope to be a great event on that one day," he said.
For more information or to register, go to ubne.ws/rcpmZw.