Trio of runners take different paths to Vancouver USA Marathon

Three local runners credit program for getting them in Sunday's races

By Paul Danzer, Columbian community sports reporter



Tracy Turner's first marathon did not go well.

From mile 17 on at the 2012 Eugene Marathon, the Battle Ground woman struggled.

"When you hit 3 hours, it's tough mentally to just keep going," she said.

Keep going she did, though, finishing that race in about 6 hours and 30 minutes.

Vancouver USA Marathon weekend schedule

All events at Esther Short Park, between Sixth and Eighth streets at Columbia in downtown Vancouver.


8 a.m. — Short run with author and running guru Bart Yasso.

8:30 a.m. — Registration opens for the Freedom 5K community race (cost $45 plus tax).

9 a.m. to 6 p.m. — VUM Active Expo open to the public. This is the final chance to pick up race numbers and to register for Sunday’s races. The expo features running-related vendors, course presentations and motivational speakers.

10 a.m. — Corwin Beverage Freedom 5K starts.

11 a.m. — Corwin Beverage kids fun runs start.

Noon to 10 p.m. — Summer Brewfest open in the park.


7 a.m. — Vancouver USA Marathon starts.

9 a.m. — Vancouver USA Half Marathon starts.

9 a.m. to 4 p.m. — Summer Brewfest open in the park.

Street closures

A number of roads in and around downtown Vancouver will be impacted by these races. Drivers should be aware that some streets are closed between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m. Sunday and others will have flaggers coordinating traffic. A complete list of road closures is available under the course link at

C-Tran route detours — These C-TRAN routes have detours during the Vancouver USA Marathon: Route 3 A&B City Center, Route 4 Fourth Plain, Route 25 Fruit Valley/St. Johns, Route 30 Burton, Route 32 Hazel Dell/Evergreen/Andresen, Route 37 Mill Plain, Route 71 Highway 99, and C-VAN.

Twitter updates — For race updates on Sunday, follow @360Danzer.

Almost two years later, she is ready to run 26.2 miles again. Much more ready, in fact.

On Sunday morning she will join about 1,000 runners at the starting line for the fourth Vancouver USA Marathon. Her goal is to finish this one an hour faster than that first try two years ago.

"I feel really ready," she said.

For that, Turner credits coach Ron Homer and the Training with Energy program.

The first-year training program helped prepare 26 runners and walkers for Sunday's marathon and half marathon, providing twice weekly group training runs and individual training plans.

Mechell Orr, who plans to complete her second half marathon on Sunday, was one of those.

The Vancouver woman took up running three years ago and completed the 2012 Girlfriends Half Marathon. That experience was good, she said — except for the ankle sprain and shin splints.

"I just didn't have a very good training plan," Orr said, noting that she relied on her own research to prepare for that race.

Training with Energy provided accountability and educated her about nutrition, hydration and aspects of distance running Orr hadn't considered such as speed training.

Running 800-meter intervals around the Hudson's Bay High School track was one of the revelations for Scott Beamer when he started training with Ron Homer. That was several years ago, when Beamer decided he needed to shed some of his 265 pounds. Homer was a friend and willing to help.

The first Vancouver USA Marathon in 2011 was Beamer's first. Sunday, some 60 pounds lighter, he will run his hometown marathon for the third time and the marathon distance for a fourth time.

Training with a group made preparing for this marathon more enjoyable, and productive, Beamer said.

"I always ran by myself. But I saw a lot of the benefits of training with a group," he said. Among those was a regular training schedule instead of just running when the mood struck.

Beamer said it was fun watching first-time distance runners gain strength, confidence and enjoyment as they extended the distance of their training runs.

For those preparing for the marathon, the training program started in January. The half-marathon program began in March. The group trained on the each Wednesday and went on longer runs each Sunday.

Homer said he developed individual training plans for each person in the group, and checked in with each at least once by e-mail between training sessions.

Turner signed up to run the 2014 Vancouver USA Marathon last summer. "I felt like I needed to redeem myself" for the rough run in Eugene two years ago, she said.

She started training on her own, but realized during the winter she needed direction and motivation if she was to be ready for another marathon attempt. She joined the Training with Energy program in February and said the individualized advice from Homer significantly improved her confidence.

"It has been so amazing," she said, describing the training experience as transforming. She said the accountability that comes with being part of a group was important.

"They're all going to know if I just sit on the couch today" and skip a training run, she said.

Homer, 44, estimates he has logged more than 55,000 miles in three decades of running. A Road Runners of America certified coach, he first connected with Energy Events in 2011 when Homer ran in the first Vancouver USA Marathon. Then he began bugging Energy Events founder Brian Davis about joining the company.

He said the plan is to start a new cycle of 12-week and 16-week training groups in early July, with the goal of making Training with Energy a regular piece of the Energy Events business.

On Sunday, Turner, Orr and Beamer will arrive at the starting line with reasonable goals and the confidence to meet them.

Beamer, 43, hopes to finish this marathon in 3 hours and 45 minutes, which would be more than 10 minutes faster than the 3:56 he recorded on this course in 2012.

Turner, 36, is shooting to finish an hour ahead of her 2012 Eugene Marathon time, which means a target of 5 hours, 30 minutes.

"I feel really ready," she said.

Orr, 38, wants to finish this half-marathon in 2½ hours. Someday, she hopes to be able to cover the 13.1-mile distance in less than two hours. Sunday, her target is one that everyone toeing the starting line can appreciate.

"My main goal is to stay healthy and to finish feeling good," Orr said.