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Race Dates

2018: Saturday, April 7, 2018
2017: Saturday, April 1, 2017

Course Information

Profile: Downhill
Type: Point to Point
Surface: Road/Pavement
Certified?: Yes

Race Day Weather

Mean Temp.: 45°F (7°C)
Average High: 59°F (15°C)
Average Low: 30° F (-1°C)

Historical Weather

PR Score & Course Score

PR Score: 99.48
Course Score: 99.48

Race Size

2017: 189 Finishers
2016: 218 Finishers
2015: 274 Finishers

BQ Percentages

2018: N/A
2017: 6.9%
2016: 10.6%

Miscellaneous Information

Pace Groups?: No

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Course Description

This net downhill, point-to-point Yakima Canyon Marathon course is exceptionally scenic as it offers spectacular views of the Yakima River Canyon.

The course starts on Canyon Road .2 mile south of the Berry Road intersection in Ellensburg, Washington. After two loops, it proceeds directly south to the canyon. There are two major hills and many curves as the course follows the Yakima River downstream on the asphalt surfaced highway. The long downhill just before the finish in rural Selah, Washington, near the canyon’s mouth contributes to the net elevation loss of a few hundred feet as it brings the runners to the Yakima Valley orchard and ranch country.

Although the marathon course loses about 250 feet from the start to mile 22. It quickly gains the elevation back on the large hill that ends near mile 23. The course then loses all the elevation from that hill and more to the finish. There is also a sizable hill when you leave he river near mile 14.

Marathon Rankings

The Yakima River Canyon Marathon was the 263rd largest marathon in the U.S. last year and was the 249th largest in 2016.

Last year 6.9% of finishers qualified for the Boston Marathon and 10.6% of runners qualified for Boston in 2016.

This gives the Yakima River Canyon Marathon the 297th highest percentage of Boston Marathon qualifiers in the U.S. last year and the 182nd highest percentage in 2016.

Its Course Score of 99.48 ranks it as the 99th fastest marathon course in the U.S. and the 14th fastest course in Washington.

The typical race time temperature and humidity levels are within the ideal range for optimal marathon performance. This, coupled with the Course Score, gives the Yakima River Canyon Marathon a PR Score of 99.48. This PR Score ranks it as the 65th fastest marathon in the U.S. and the 13th fastest in Washington.

Learn more about PR Scores and Course Scores on the FAQ page.

Elevation Chart

Max Elevation: 1527 feet (465m)
Min Elevation: 1161 feet (353m)


Recent Yakima River Canyon Marathon Reviews

3 Stars from 2 Reviews
View all Reviews

review of 2014 Yakima River Canyon Marathon.   

4 / 5 Stars


It has a really neat small-town feel. Think if your grandma put on a marathon, Yakima is what it might be like. Lots of Marathon Maniacs were there, and the organizers (Bob and Lenore Dolphin, in their 80's) make a huge deal of anyone running their first, or 100th, marathon. And Kathrine Switzer was at the race festivities the whole weekend, with her husband, Roger Robinson! It was awesome. (this section is why I give this a "probably" recommendation)

Race Tips

I would absolutely NOT recommend this as a PR or BQ course to anyone. The hill at mile 13 was OK, but the 200+' continuous hill over maybe 1.5 miles starting at mile 22, was a soul-crusher. If this helps at all, my average pace ended up at 7.23 for the entire marathon, but mile 22 was 7.38 and then 23 was 8.45. Also, the camber (tilt) of the road was painful to me from about mile 8 and onward. Finally, there can be wind in the canyon, definitely was some yesterday. (if you are concerned with a PR or BQ, I would say "definitely not!" recommendation)

Logistical Tips (Hotels, Restaurants, Parking, Discounts, etc.)

There are a cluster of hotels in Ellensburg, near the Days Inn. (race HQ) Any of those would probably work, and give you a 10 min walk to the start. I stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in Ellensburg, and it was pretty good. If you stay in Yakima, it requires a 6:00 a.m. race morning bus, which I did not want to do.

review of 2012 Yakima River Canyon Marathon.   

2 / 5 Stars


The course is beautiful. The scenery is second to none. However, this race, although technically downhill, is terribly hilly. The course follows the water so the roads are windy, crested and have many hills. Just be careful and plan for lots of hills.

Race Tips

I am not sure you know what to expect in late March/ early April. The day I ran it snowed, rained, was sunny. Pacing.. I would recommend a conservative, safe pace until mi 13 and see how you feel.

Logistical Tips (Hotels, Restaurants, Parking, Discounts, etc.)

Finish Time Equivalent

If you ran the Yakima River Canyon Marathon in 4:28:00, what would your time in the Boston Marathon be?

See how your race times would compare on other marathon courses using the Marathon Time Converter Tool.