2017 marks my fifth year running the Spokane River Run. We are blessed with unpredictable winters here in the Inland Northwest, and I have been using this event as training motivation for the last five years. The Spokane River Run was my first 50K race (as well as my wife’s first 50k), and Riverside State Park is one of my favorite places to run. I should also mention the fact that there are a lot of incentives to choosing a big race close to home.
The Spokane River Run offers solo distances from 5k, 10k, 25k, 50k, as well as a 50k team option. All of the races begin and end at the large Seven-Mile airstrip area and utilize the majority of Riverside. Nearly all of the course is runnable, but there are hills and certain technical sections that might force people to walk if it’s slippery. The race is put on by the local APPLE organization benefiting Garfield Elementary, and is one of the few non-profit race organizations in the area. The race directors do a fantastic job incorporating the best of Riverside State Park, and runners appreciate it. The 50k course goes from one end of Riverside to the other, and back again.
If you always wanted to visit the Deep Creek area but never have, I highly recommend doing this race. Running through Deep Creek makes you feel like you are on a different planet: large basalt rock formations, strange pinnacles, and rugged terrain. The rest of the course utilizes miles of singletrack and offers amazing views of the Spokane River, along with nice shady pines to run past.
This course is moderately difficult, and it depends on your familiarity with basalt trails. The 50k course has roughly 2600’ of elevation gain, with the longest climb about a mile long. This is a runner’s course that produces fast times including a sub 4-hour 50k winning time, and middle of the pack runners finishing around the 5:30 mark. I think this is a perfect 50k for someone new to the ultra distance. Organizers have ample volunteers and well-stocked aid stations. Best of all, finishers typically receive useful swag from GSI Outdoors, and you can expect some fabulous post-race food such as cookies, bananas, oranges and bagels. Sign up soon. Info at Spokaneriverrun.com. // (Dave Dutro)