Sunday, May 8, 2016

Sunflower Half Marathon

I returned to the beautiful Okanagan in Central Washington yesterday to run, shuffle, and walk the Sunflower Half Marathon. It was a gorgeous day, which after a while got really hot, reaching 87 degrees, without shade. 

The course is one of the better half marathons you'll find anywhere, at least when the flowers are in bloom. The Sunflower runs have been around for 35+ years, and include a relay and an "iron" or marathon distance. This was the first year for the half marathon distance, which is a point to point jaunt from the Chickadee trailhead to Twisp. I've ran the full marathon and the former 21 mile distance, and I think the half grabs the best section of the route. 

The trail is frequently lined with balsam root sunflowers and violet-blue lupine. Portions of the route are along a plateau, with views of the snow-covered North Cascades in the distance. Views of Patterson Lake and other lakes around the route. Rolling hills of the Okanagan, still green with spring. Sections of the course were burned in recent fires, and are just starting to experience new growth. The finish drops from the plateau back down to the Methow River and Twisp.

There are many runners, between the marathoners, the relay teams, and the half marathoners. The marathoners and half marathoners are bussed to the start, to enable the point-to-point. The altitude is a bit elevated, around 2000 feet. There are some climbs here and there, including a somewhat stiff one about mid-way through the half, after an exchange.

I drove over in the early AM, which isn't too tough from Mount Vernon. My effort was a struggle, as my left leg and shin didn't participate for the first few miles. Then it got hot, and I melt in the sun. I dunked my hat in streams at least three times, but have some bad sun burn today. Still, the distance was short enough that there was no real crisis--just slow times. I also took a bunch of photos.

Great to see friends over there from B'ham and the Okanagan. Great job by MVSTA, as always. The registration was gifted to me by a friend of a friend--thank you friends! Such a wonderful place to visit.

And then there's that North Cascades pass drive. Lots of people were out on the trailheads, with skis, snowshoes, and other gear.  I listened to the Seattle Springsteen concert on the way out and back, which we attended in March. It was an awesome show--Eddie Vedder even showed up. I purchased the cd, and it was pretty cool to hear the whole concert again on the drive. For me, the drive is all part of the journey to visiting the Methow, and so it's part of the memory, and so I mention it here.