Tomorrow I’m getting up bright and early for one of my favorite races—White Salmon Backyard Half—it’s my third year taking on this beautiful and challenging course.
The course has over 1,800 feet of elevation gain and starts off with a relentless climb that goes on for about 8 miles. On a clear day, the summit provides stunning views of Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, and the Columbia River—views certainly worth the climb (and maybe a little misery). Then it’s all downhill to the finish.
The Backyard Half is a true community race—the suggested donation entry fee of $20 benefits the White Salmon Boys Cross Country Team and the Columbia Gorge Running Club Student Scholarship Fund. A special part of the race is having the cross county team boys staff the aid stations. The race’s namesake is due to the generous landowners who open up their “backyards” to the ambitious runners for the day. In age when registration fees continue to increase and community can be an afterthought, it’s refreshing to see a race that’s affordable and gives back in so many ways.
While the race has two wonderful beneficiaries, if you’ve been following my blog you know that a race provides the opportunity to donate to a local organization as part of the Small Change Initiative. Given that the race is held in the Columbia Gorge and much of my training takes place in this area, I knew that I wanted to support Friends of the Columbia Gorge. Learn more about my donation to this organization.
With offices in both Oregon and Washington, Friends of the Columbia Gorge’s mission is to vigorously protect the scenic, natural, cultural, and recreational resources of the Columbia River Gorge. They fulfill their mission by ensuring strict implementation of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Act and other laws protecting the region, promoting responsible stewardship of Gorge land, air, and waters, and providing educational and volunteer opportunities to the public. Learn more about their mission and vision.
I’m going into this race a little, um…unprepared; however, I know what to expect. Even when I’m trained, it’s a very tough course. My goal for the day is to keep moving and to enjoy the views and the company of my fellow runners. If I start to struggle (and I know I will), I’ll call upon Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz and repeat to myself three times “there’s no place like the Gorge.”
After the race, I’m heading to my brother’s mountain cabin near Mt Hood for a little downtime with him and my dad. It seems fitting that my race weekend includes dad time—after all, he was my inspiration to start running long ago—he was a runner, so I most likely inherited the love for the sport and sturdy running legs from him. Thanks, dad and Happy Father’s Day!
Are you traveling for a race or adventure? Join the Small Change movement and together our Small Change can add up to something good for communities.