Light at the End of the Tunnel (June 2019)

The Tunnel Marathon race series advertised a fast and scenic course, and most everyone I know who has run one of these events agreed with this assessment. After such a successful finish in Las Vegas, I decided to shoot for a sub 3:20 at the Light at the End of the Tunnel. This is the first of three races held on a trail just outside of Seattle, Washington. I am not completely well- versed on the backstory, but I do know that there are several races that use essentially the same course and that there are some bad feelings among the race directors. I settled on Light at the End of the Tunnel because I think it is one of the original marathons, and it also fit well into our race calendar.

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After running this marathon, I can see why it is such a popular choice for potential PR’s. The race begins at Hyak Trailhead on the John Wayne Pioneer Trail. Almost immediately, we entered the 2 ½ mile tunnel that gives this race its name. Headlamps were absolutely necessary as it was DARK in this thing! I was running with the 3:15 pace group at the time, and I was thankful for the added light. The footing was a bit tricky in this section (the floor was wet, and again, there wasn’t any light), but it was a cool experience. The rest of the race was run on the trail and offered beautiful views of mountains, verdant forests, rivers, and waterfalls. It was one of the loveliest courses I’ve seen, reminding me very much of South Dakota. There was a 2,000 foot elevation drop, but it was so gradual that it essentially felt like we running on a flat surface. The race wasn’t huge (roughly 600 finishers) but was large enough that I always had someone in my sight line.

I really liked this race and do feel like the course is fast, but I was still beat up from Vegas, and another downhill run hurt far more than I had anticipated. My plan had been to stick with the 3:15 pacer for as long as possible and fall back once I got tired and the trail flattened out. I could feel soreness in my legs and some pain in my knees by mile 8, however, which made it difficult to keep the pace. The gravel trail also added some complications. Even though it was smooth and well- groomed, I ended up with some small rocks in my shoes. (NOTE: I didn’t wear gators on this course and don’t think that they are necessary. The bit of gravel that ended up in my shoes was annoying but not a huge detriment. I do wish that I had worn a thicker pair of running shoes instead of my usual road race favorites.) I finished in just over 3:20, which is solidly my second- fastest marathon, but the run felt like a struggle. I’d love to check out another marathon on this course with “fresh legs.”

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We have family in Seattle, so this marathon afforded us an opportunity to bring the kids along for a long weekend. We checked out the Space Needle and Chihuly museum as well as Mount Rainier National Park. My mom also finally saw me finish a marathon 😊

Sub 4 State #41, BQ State #41, Sub 3:30 State #20

Finish Time: 3:20:43

Overall Place Within My Gender: 15/272 (2nd in my age group)

Favorite Race Day Song: “Gloria” (again)

Total Training Miles: 8,435.9

Shoe Total: 26


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