Tacoma City Marathon and Half Marathon Race Preview

This Sunday, May 4, is the Tacoma City Marathon and Half Marathon.  I am running the half and my husband is running the marathon relay.

tcm banner

The Tacoma City Marathon and its half are put on by the Tacoma City Marathon Association (TCMA), a fabulous organization that has tripled? quadrupled? greatly increased the number of races in our city over the past several years. The TCMA is a significant part of what’s making Tacoma such a runner town.

Granted, we’re no Eugene, Oregon, but we’re coming along quite nicely.

not hayward field

Fun fact: Tacoma stood in for Eugene for the filming of the 1997 movie Prefontaine, starring Jared Leto.

But back to the race: 2014 is the 8th year of the Tacoma City Marathon.  There are over 730 people registered for the full and over 1,300 for the half, with room for plenty more registrations between now and Sunday.

The TCMA changed the full course in 2013 to a net downhill, point-to-point course that starts at the Tacoma Municipal Airport in Gig Harbor and finishes in Downtown Tacoma. The half (revamped for 2014) has the same start and finish, and is also a net downhill course.


Between those two points is where the magic happens, of course–and I’m not talking about just the effort, guts, and sweat from the runners.  The course is stunning, running across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, then through neighborhoods to Pt. Defiance Park, then along the Ruston Way waterfront to the finish line.

View from the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

View from the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

The Narrows Bridge(s).

The Narrows Bridge(s).

Ruston Way.

Ruston Way.

Downtown Tacoma.

Downtown Tacoma.

The beauty of the Tacoma City Marathon’s course is a real draw, as is its net-downhill profile. I think this race makes a great substitute for the Eugene Marathon, which up until this year was held in late April (it has since been moved to the-much-warmer-and-less-likely to-result-in-a-PR late July).  I wouldn’t be surprised if the Tacoma City Marathon starts gaining some national attention and becomes a destination race. The course is truly that special.

Here are the deets:

What: Tacoma City Marathon and Half Marathon, as well as the marathon relay, 5K, and a kids’ “marathon.”

When: Sunday, May 4, 2014 – 7:00 a.m. start for the full and 8:00 a.m. for the half.

Where: Tacoma Municipal Airport in Gig Harbor, Washington, finishing at Tacoma Art Museum in Tacoma.

Registration: You can register online through midnight on April 30, 2014, and up to the day before the race at the expo.

Why You Should Run This Race: It’s a point-to-point, net downhill course that has interesting and beautiful scenery pretty much every step of the way.  The registration fees are low, so it’s a good value.  Weather in early May in Washington is usually perfect for running–not too cold, not too warm–and this day has been dry for the last few years (let’s hope this year keeps that record going, although I don’t mind light run for a race). If you are a Marathon Maniac or Half Fanatic, you get special perks including meet-ups and a second finisher’s medal.  Bart Yasso is speaking at the race-eve pasta dinner. Oh–and there’s a beer garden at the finish.

Things to Consider:  Despite the above pros, there are a few things (not cons, exactly) for which you should be prepared. Although it’s a net downhill course, it’s not easy. There is a pretty gnarly hill at Mile 3 (Mile 4 for the half), and there are rolling hills at several points along the course (including the rollers through Pt. Defiance’s Five Mile Drive).  tcm elevation grades

If you need crowd support to get you through the pain cave at Mile 23, this isn’t the race for you–there aren’t that many spectators except for at the relay exchange points and finish area.

2013-05-05 Tacoma Marathon 140

Like I said, these aren’t really cons. So just register for the race, already!

Want more info? Check it out on the Tacoma City Marathon website.


8 thoughts on “Tacoma City Marathon and Half Marathon Race Preview

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