Bart Yasso has seen a lot of finish lines.
He has raced 146 miles across Death Valley in the heat of summer. He has run in Antarctica and in the Arctic, and cycled solo across America.
Often, getting to the finish line was more a matter of will power than leg power, a testament to Yasso’s internal drive.
But the accomplishment, no matter how large, is not as significant to Yasso as getting to the starting line.
“One thing that makes running special is all of the challenges runners overcome to get to the starting line,” Yasso said.
For the second year in a row, Yasso is a featured speaker at the sports and fitness expo held in conjunction with the Vancouver USA Marathon. The expo runs 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at the Hilton in downtown Vancouver.
The Chief Running Officer for Runner’s World magazine, Yasso spends as many as 45 weekends a year attending events like the Vancouver USA Marathon. He gives a slide show of his many adventures and interacts with runners who share his passion for the sport.
“The great stories aren’t going to walk into our office,” he said, explaining why Runner’s World sends him on road trips almost every week.
Yasso himself has a book’s worth of good stories. He shares his journey from a young man on the edge of addiction to running legend in the autobiographical 2008 book, “My Life on the Run.”
Yasso began making presentations like the one he’s in Vancouver to share long before he wrote the book. Noting that he works for a publisher, Yasso said he wrote the book when his bosses at Runners’ World encouraged it.
“I never started out thinking my story was inspirational,” he said.
The struggles that Yasso writes about go beyond outlandish racing challenges to include the lure of drugs and alcohol in his young life and his battle with Lyme disease.
In his younger days, Yasso’s high pain threshold was matched by his competitive drive. His competitive days now behind him, Yasso remains driven to share his passion for running.
“If I can inspire people to keep running, I walk away from the weekend happy,” he said.
If you go
The Vancouver USA Marathon weekend includes events Saturday and Sunday:
• The sports and fitness show, and packet pickup for Sunday’s race, runs 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. today at the Hilton Vancouver, 301 W. 6th Street. Among the special events are motivational talks by Bart Yasso at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
• The Freedom 5K, a 3.12-mile run, starts at 10 a.m. Saturday at Esther Short Park. It is followed at 11 a.m. by the 1.2-mile Kids Marathon.
• The Vancouver USA Marathon starts at 7 a.m. Sunday on Columbia Street next to Esther Short Park. Look for the first finisher to arrive between 9:30 and 9:45 a.m.
• The Vancouver USA Half Marathon starts at 9 a.m.
• There is no registration on Sunday for the races. Many streets will be closed or monitored by flaggers. Drivers should anticipate delays at some intersections. Click here for specific road closures.
• On the Web: www.vancouverusamarathon.com.
• Marathon updates: On Sunday, check out Columbian.com for race updates. For in-race twitter updates, follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/360Danzer