The Bend Marathon course takes in all that is amazing about the city, and the beauty that surrounds it. Starting in downtown Bend, the course travels through the heart of the city, including iconic Drake Park, before heading along the Deschutes River. At mile 4, the course turns back south and passes through downtown on Wall St. Winding past the Old Mill District and through Riverbend Park, marathon runners will head out the Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway towards the turn around near Seventh Mountain Resort. The home stretch takes you through the Tetherow neighborhood (which includes fantastic views of the Three Sisters, Broken Top and Mt. Bachelor) to the West Bend Trail and the finish. The finish pavilion will be one gigantic party at Mirror Pond Parking Lot next to iconic Drake Park. The marathon course is approximately 90% pavement and 10% gravel/trail.
- Veronica reviewed 10 months ago
I just completed the marathon distance and wanted to leave a review before I forget the details. To my knowledge, the course for the marathon was different this year, so it is perhaps even more important to leave a note. First, thank you to the organizers and volunteers (including pacers!) for a well-run event! Second, Bend is a fantastic town to run in and the marathon course easily showcases this. Third, the marathon and entire race (plus other distances) have a small intimate race feel, which I personally like.
Packet pick up was a breeze at the Foot Zone downtown. I was surprised at the lack of marathon merchandise outside of the included shirt (gender specific, although a bit clunky with huge screen print on the chest). I wish there were at least running caps or even more substantial running shirts that could be purchased. I noticed that the 2016 race had some and this was one of the things that attracted me to the race. The race still uses plastic cups and bottles, which really should be done away with. Apart from this, the aid stations were fantastic. No gels, however, so if you eat those, bring your own. There is no police involved with the race, which made for problematic traffic situations, especially at the many roundabouts throughout Bend. Sadly, it seemed that the communities along the course were not alerted of this race happening and there was a ton of traffic and aggravated drivers on the road. As a runner, this made me feel unsafe. Not to mention that we, the runners, had to wait out traffic on a few occasions (obviously affecting time, but also, at mile 20 the last thing I want to do is hang out at a traffic stop for the simple reason that I may not start up again ?!)
The course was surprisingly difficult. I knew that it is challenging, but it felt even more so yesterday. My watch showed just under 1,300 ft of elevation gain. While on a trail running course I wouldn’t bat an eye at this number, on the road, it felt much different. I was toast at the end. Also, the course was about 1/3 mile too long, causing even the pacers to fall out of time. I am not sure that the marathon needed the extra (to the half marathon course) loop around the high school at mile 22.
The finishers line was amazing! Compact, friendly, loud, and chock full of drinks and food. Also, beer. Beer is the best, so don’t let Deschutes Brewery go. ?
- Thanks so much for the review, Veronica, and congratulations on the marathon!
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This is a race to behold. Words and images won’t do it justice, you just have to experience it for yourself. Breathtaking views of the Central Oregon high desert, ample variety of terrain — paved and trail — and winding courses past rivers, lakes, through parks and forests… I can’t recommend it enough.
It was well supported, with 11 aid stations along the way, and signs, markings, and volunteers at nearly every single turn and shift in the course. Very well organized. I will be back.
I blogged about my experience and hope it helps encourage you to sign up!
Not only was this the inaugural year for this race, it was also my first full marathon. I’ve had an illogical fear of 26.2 since my stress fracture three years ago, and this race seemed like the perfect mix of trail, hills, elevation, etc., to keep me focused more on finishing and less on time. Plus I love Bend and was excited to be a part of something in such a beautiful area! So when a friend mentioned I consider Bend, I jumped at the opportunity.
The race is all as it’s advertised: Beautiful scenery, hilly, challenging, but not impossibly so. Kerry and Blair did an excellent job at organizing the race and with the exception of a few minor hiccups, the race was well-marked and well-supported. Plenty of porta-potties, aid stations every two miles or so (less on the first half of the race), accurate pace group leaders, awesome custom medals, etc. You would not have been able to tell it was an inaugural race if they hadn’t said it many times
It was also a good race for spectators. The start was cold but I was able easily drop off clothing with my friends at the end of mile 2. They caught me again at miles 13/20 (the out and back on the Cascade Scenic Highway) and it was nice having them to look forward to. They could have easily caught me in more places but decided instead to grab coffee. A person could easily jump in and pace on the back half of the course, or ride alongside a marathoner via bicycle.
As for the course goes, it was challenging, and not just because it was my first full. I had done five long runs over 20 miles, with one at 23 miles, and several on trail, so I felt adequately prepared for the hills, occasional gravel, and elevation. But this full is not for the faint of heart, and does require some extra preparation than Portland or Eugene. If you are from the Willamette Valley, you will feel the altitude at about miles 8-10, and will need to drink more water than usual and probably slow your pace down just slightly. But the views and the challenge makes this a great destination race, and the sense of accomplishment afterward makes the challenge worth it!
The Bend marathon & half was an amazing race to partcipate in.I appreciated the multiple opportunities for packet pick up and coming from out of town that was extremely helpful.Scenic sights were amazing and the course was very well supported by volunteers and aid stations also the volunteers were in great spirits, which helped with motivation to the runners.I thoroughly enjoy myself in this event including the challenges that the course had presented with some hills.The finish line was exciting as well with many there to cheer on the runners that were finishing.I liked where the after party was located it was near by the finishline & the park.Will be definitely doing it again next year! Great job to Kerry & Blair and their families!
The Bend Marathon and Half, was my FIRST Half, and I couldn’t have asked for more.
Granted I didn’t know what to expect but, the course was well managed, easy to navigate and
So Beautiful! It was really great seeing Bend Residents come out of the homes to bang drums,
Whistle, applaud and cheer us on! Helped keep the Motivation up!
The packet pick up was organized and with several date options, you would have to try really hard,
To NOT get your packet before the day of the race.
I Look forward to next year and many more to come!
Thank you Kerry and Blair for putting together another Amazing Race!
Loved the inaugural Bend Marathon & Half! The course was gorgeous, the packet pickup times were accommodating, and race day was flawless.
My only suggestion would be to not hand runners crossing the finish line so many things. I was crying as I crossed the line as I typically do (all those weeks of training are exhausting), then I’m handed a medal, medal screws, a beer token and water. Seemed a bit much especially since I dropped half of it (but it’s definitely appreciated). Other than that small complaint I would definitely do it again next year. Who knows maybe I’ll make it my first full 😉
Great job Kerry & Blair!