Local marathon noticed nationally

Runner's World gives it top-10 rankings in a pair of categories

By Sue Vorenberg, Columbian features reporter

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After four years of tinkering, the Vancouver USA Marathon is exactly where organizer Brian Davis says he wants it — and national runners groups are starting to take notice.

The event, which drew about 3,000 runners in 2013, was ranked this month as one of the top nine best new marathons for 2014 by Runner's World. It also ranked in the magazine's January issue as one of the top 10 "Fun-Feature Filled Marathons in the USA" for 2013.

"What's exciting about this to me is we really set ourselves apart with a cool event for runners," said Davis, owner of Energy Events, which puts on several running activities in Vancouver each year. "It's great to see everything coming together."

"New" is a somewhat relative term, encompassing marathons that have been around for five years or less that have at least 500 participants.

Davis said he's glad the magazine gives marathons a few years to grow and still be considered new, because there are always kinks to be worked out in the first few years of a fledgling event.

"It shows the hard work and passion that we've been driving for the past four years," Davis said. "We've tried to add things in that time that really make it stand out. Now we're going to stick to the format. We're good. We're dialed in."

The only change this year will be cash awards for race winners. Vancouver's GrindStone Collection Strategies, Inc. chipped in $2,000, and Energy Events added $400 to provide cash prizes for runners that come in first, second and third place in the full and half marathons. Top prize will be $500 for the full and $250 for the half.

Some things the magazine looked at in its rankings were geographical diversity, runners' reviews and the variety of associated activities.

The Vancouver USA Marathon includes a brewfest, food, medals, and a full marathon, half marathon, 5K and kids fun run.

The site, http://runnersworld.com, described the route:

"This race is in America's Vancouver — a city across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon — thus the 'USA' in the title. This Vancouver isn't as populous or cosmopolitan as its namesake in Canada, but its flat and scenic marathon starts and finishes in a pretty downtown park, and you don't need a passport!"

Energy Events already has pre-registered about 1,500 people for the 2014 event, which will be held on Sunday, June 15, and begin at Esther Short Park, Davis said.

"We already have 34 states represented, and two countries," Davis said. "We had about 30 states represented last year."

Organizers also try to work with local businesses to encourage runners to visit stores, restaurants and pubs in the community.

"We designed the marathon to have a small, local appeal, but wanted people to travel from around the country to experience it," said Tim Ahaus, marketing consultant for Energy Events. "We used the 'think global, act local' approach."

The 2014 event will be capped at 5,000 runners. Early entry fees are $65 for the half marathon and $85 for the full marathon at http://energyevents.com.