The Light at the End of the Tunnel 
 Marathon  2011

 Snoqualmie Pass to North Bend, WA
 Sunday July 24, 2011 7:00 & 8:00 AM start


General Info
2011 Results and photos are online
Matt Hagen, Photographer-in-Chief, has posted runner photos here; take a look. Also, if you haven't done so already, check your time on the results listing and email us if you find any errors.
Pascal Spino from Vancouver BC had the fastest time overall with 2:52:08 while Rob Preston from Athens TN was first of the 8:00AM starters with 2:52:50. Kelly McLean from Portland OR was the fastest woman, setting a new women's course record with a time of 2:58:59. Congratulations to Pascal, Kelly and Rob, and to all of our 287 finishers, who had to contend not only with rather warm conditions later in the race but also with a bear in the trail which was in no hurry to get out of the way.

We found a few items left behind after all the runners went home, so if you're missing anything and would like it back, send us a self-addressed padded envelope with postage and we'll mail it back to you. If you live nearby I'll probably see you at a local race sometime soon, and could bring it then.
We also have a few shirts left over in sizes L and XL, so if you didn't get a shirt and would like one, send us your size and your address along with a check for $18 (to cover shirt and shipping) and we'll send one to you.

We appreciate the feedback you've provided on your experience at this years Light at the End of the Tunnel Marathon. If you have a story to share and feel like writing, we'd still llike to hear it, so email us and let us know how it went for you.

The 2012 Light at the End of the Tunnel Marathon is scheduled for Sunday, July 15, 2012. We plan to open registration for the 2012 race in April and will notify all 2011 Tunnel Marathon runners beforehand.
General Info  return to top
The Light at the End of the Tunnel Marathon in mid-July is a point-to-point downhill run on a scenic rail-trail which descends 2050 feet in 26.2 miles from Snoqualmie Pass to North Bend east of Seattle, Washington. The certified (certification number WA 08031 MW) course is a Boston qualifier and has the best profile in the country for a fast time due to the combination of consistent downhill gradient and low starting elevation. The first three miles are flat, cold, foggy and damp inside an unlit tunnel so flashlights are strongly recommended. Once out of the Tunnel the views are great, especially from the trestle bridges. Though there aren't many spectators, there might be a bear or two. Aid stations with water, Gatorade, and cups are provided every three miles or so (some may be self-serve) and restrooms are located here and there. We provide medical support and marshals on bicycles on the course, which is supported for 8 hours for the early starters. You'll find food and aid and lots of friendly volunteers at the finish so plan on joining us in 2012 but don't wait until the last minute to sign up. This race fills well before race day.
Registration was limited to 300 runners for 2011 to ensure that we could handle the logistics of the run. In future years we may be able to increase that limit somewhat, but it is likely that the race will continue to sell out. We used tear-tag timing for the 2011 race but are considering chip timing for 2012. We had two starting waves in 2011, 7AM and 8AM. The earlier start was the more popular so we're considering having only one official start at 7 next year, perhaps with an unofficial early start at 6AM for those who need extra time. Other changes under consideration for 2012 include providing age group and overall awards and staffing all aid stations. The entry fee for 2012 will likely be in the neighborhood of $80.
Race day 2011 brought us the warmest day of the summer so far with cloudless skies and temperatures at the finish over 80F. The start was a substantially cooler 52F until the sun came up just before the 8AM wave started. Three years ago we had temperatures in the high 80s at the finish with 90% humidity but that was quite unusual - typical humidity in our area is under 50% on sunny summer days. (FYI 2011 runners, the day after the race was in the 50's with drizzle and rain.) The course is partly shaded for the first 20 miles and mostly in the shade for the last 5 which helps if the weather is warm. Temperature in the tunnel is about 50F all the time, with dripping water in places and even fog if the weather is humid outside.
Course Details  return to top
The race starts at the Hyak trailhead for the John Wayne Pioneer trail just east of Snoqualmie Pass. After a 3/4 mile warm-up the next 2 1/4 miles of the course run underground through the damp and pitch-black Hyak Tunnel, a little like Seattle in November only alot darker. Flashlights are strongly recommended. Once you get about 50 yards into the tunnel, you can see a pinpoint of light ahead of you which is the "Light at the End of the Tunnel" over 2 miles away. If you see more than one point of light, you're probably looking at mountain bike headlights.
The next 13 miles run parallel to and a little above I-90 along the John Wayne Pioneer Trail, passing through a snowshed and over four high trestle bridges before diverging from I-90 and traversing mostly forested slopes for 5 more miles to the Iron Horse State Park trailhead at Rattlesnake Lake. At Rattlesnake Lake the course continues on the Snoqualmie Valley trail past a few houses and through leafy second-growth forest before returning to civilization for the last half mile or so. The race finishes at a gravel parking area along North Bend Way 2.4 miles SE of downtown North Bend.
Here's a map of the course.
The last 23 miles of the course are all downhill at a fast 80'/mile gradient except for one little 50-yard hill at about mile 9 and a few short flat sections. Both the John Wayne Pioneer and Snoqualmie Valley trails are old railway grades surfaced with hard-packed gravel and wide enough for a car to pass. The surface is generally smooth but there are sections with small rocks so you'll want to watch your footing. As trail runs go, it's non-technical. Most runners will be comfortable running in road shoes but perhaps not in FiveFingers. The race director would run it in lightweight trainers if he wasn't otherwise occupied on race day.
The course will not be closed to other users so expect scattered cyclists, walkers and joggers, particularly on the second half of the course, as well as rock climbers around mile 16. There should be no motorized vehicles on any portion of the course except at the two low-traffic road crossings at miles 13 and 25.5.
The course will be marked with orange tape and white-flour arrows where necessary. Every mile will be marked and numbered.
If you are nervous about heights or being inside caves, you should evaluate whether or not you'll be comfortable on this course. The tunnel is about 20' wide and 30' tall but it is almost completely dark for a couple of miles. Beyond the tunnel, there are several high trestle bridges and a few other sections of the trail from which it feels like a long ways down to the ground.
Course Map
(Adapted from The Backcountry Unicyclist)
Here is a rather large topographic map of the entire course.
Accomodations  return to top
Lodging and restaurants are available in North Bend within a few miles of the finish area. The two or three motels near the finish have mixed reviews. The North Bend Motel (425) 888-1121 is close to restaurants in downtown North Bend and is about two miles from the race finish. Lee, the manager, is offering check out as late as 2PM - mention that you are a Tunnel Marathon runner, Rates at the North Bend Motel are between $60 and $74 excluding tax. The Edgewick Inn (425) 888-9000 at I-90 exit 34, two miles from the finish and about four miles from downtown North Bend, has rooms available for $65 for one person and $85 for two for marathon runners (possibly lower for AAA members). According to the manager, Tunnel Marathon runners can have until 2PM to check out (applies for the first 20 or so registrations). There are more motels in the Eastgate area of Bellevue along I-90 just east of I-405, which is about a 20 minute drive from the finish area. There are also several motels at Snoqualmie Pass, which is a mile or two from the start and about 20 minutes from the finish.
There are two National Forest campgrounds within about 10 miles of the finish area - Tinkham and Middle Fork Campground. Go to this site and search for campgrounds near "98045". RV and tent camping are also available at the private Snoqualmie River RV Park and Campground in nearby Fall City, also about 10 miles from the finish area.
Directions to the Finish and Parking  return to top
Take Exit 32 from I-90. At the end of the exit ramp turn LEFT (towards Mt Si) on 436th Ave SE. Go about 0.6 miles and turn sharp RIGHT on North Bend Way. In 0.6 miles you'll see a gravel pull-off on the right where SE Tanner Road meets SE North Bend Way. That's the finish area. The parking area is 200 yards farther up North Bend Way on the left at the Ole Cedar Mill Mini Storage. Most runners will want to park there and catch a bus to the start, in part because parking at the start requires a $10 daily Discover Pass. The address of the finish area parking at the Ole Cedar Mill Mini Storage is 44800 SE North Bend Way, North Bend, WA 98045.
Directions to the Start
Head east on I-90 to Exit 54 which is two miles past Snoqualmie Summit. At the end of the exit ramp turn right then immediately turn LEFT on a road that parallels I-90 heading East. Go about 0.4 miles then you'll have to turn RIGHT at a Department of Transportation maintenance yard. After about 50 yards you'll turn RIGHT again at the first road off to the right. Follow this road 0.1 miles to the Hyak trailhead parking lot. Park at the east end of the lot.
You'll also see small brown signs with white lettering directing you from the highway offramp to the Iron Horse State Park trailhead. If you end up at Hyak Lodge or at Keechelus Lake you have missed the right turn heading to the Hyak parking lot. This aerial photo shows the start area - follow the orange line.
A daily ($10) or annual ($30) Discover Pass is required to park at the start area. Overnight parking at the start is not permitted, although there are areas nearby where an RV could probably be parked overnight. To use Google maps for directions, the address at the start is Iron Horse sledding hill, Iron Horse State Park, Snoqualmie Pass, WA.
Limited Support  return to top
The Light at the End of the Tunnel Marathon is a trail marathon with limited access to roads and aid along the course. You may want to carry a small water bottle, particularly if the weather is warm. You may also want to carry a cell phone.
There porta-potties and restrooms at the start and porta-potties at the finish. Along the course there are restrooms at miles 3, 8.7, 11.6, 16 or so and at mile 21.2.
There are 8 aid stations along the course, situated at roughly 3 mile intervals. For 2011 the aid stations at miles 3, 13 and 21 were staffed by volunteers; the other aid stations were self-service (which means runners pour their own Gatorade or water). Gatorade and water are available at all aid stations. Gu is available at miles 13, 17 and 21. Minor first aid supplies (vaseline, band aids, salt caps, sunburn cream, bug spray) are provided at the staffed aid stations. Wastebaskets are provided at and shortly after each aid station for cups and other litter.
In addition to the aid stations, several course marshals will be riding bicycles on the course during the run. Course marshals will be carrying minor first aid supplies as well as a few extra Gu and will have cell phones to call for help should you need it. At least one EMT will be on the course as well, with the ability to call for assistance or emergency evacuation from any point on the trail if needed.
We'll provide juice and snacks at the finish. There are no finisher's awards for 2011 other than the finisher's medal.

Official Disclaimer
Participants in the Light at the End of the Tunnel Marathon acknowledge that running any marathon carries with it the potential for death, serious injury and property loss. PARTICIPANTS IN THIS EVENT ASSUME ALL RISKS OF SUCH PARTICIPATION. Participants attest and certify that they are physically fit and sufficiently trained for the completion of this event. By electing to participate in this event, participants and waive and release any and all rights and claims for damages which they may have or which may hereafter accrue to them or their heirs and administrators, against USA Track and Field, Inc, The Pacific Northwest Association of USATF, Brian Pendleton and all other volunteers associated with the Light at the End of the Tunnel Marathon, Washington State Parks, King County Parks, King County and its Officers, Officials, Employees and Agents, The City of North Bend and Ole Cedar Mill Mini Storage and their respective officers, agents, representatives and/or assigns arising from injuries due to participation in or traveling for this competition.