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Cherry Blossom Fitness Festival expects growth

Runners take in the views from the Riverfront Trail during the 2012 Cherry Blossom Fitness Festival.

Runners take in the views from the Riverfront Trail during the 2012 Cherry Blossom Fitness Festival. Scott McMullen

The Cherry Blossom Fitness Festival returns to the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center in The Dalles this Sunday, April 14.

The event was created last year in a partnership between Breakaway Promotions and Water’s Edge Health and Wellness to encourage those in the community to get their fitness plans going in the spring and work toward a healthier summer.

The fitness festival consists of a half marathon run as well as a duathlon. New events added to the fitness festival this year are a kid’s duathlon for those ages 6-12 and a half marathon team competition.

“We are very fortunate to be able to have such tremendous partners in this event,” said race director Chad Sperry. “The Columbia Gorge Discovery Center has been tremendously supportive of hosting the event at their location and it provides us spectacular courses to utilize. In addition Northern Wasco County Parks and Rec allows us use of the trail system.” The running portion of the duathlon and the half marathon course will use the Riverfront Trail that winds runners along the Columbia River. The bike portion of the duathlon, which is a run/bike/run format similar to a triathlon, will head west from the Discovery Center to Rowena Lookout and back.

“We truly feel like we have one of the most scenic multisport events in the Northwest,” Sperry said. “We have purposely scheduled the event so we can capitalize on the spring bloom of wildflowers and blossoms.

After word got out about last year’s event, registration numbers are increasing, Sperry said.

“We are shooting for 200-250 participants this year. We love this event as it draws a great mix of competitors from not only the Columbia River Gorge but also around the country. We even have competitors signed up and coming from Texas and Florida.”

The attraction of the event is it caters to a wide range of abilities and skills, from the novices just hoping to finish to the ultra-competitive athlete looking to set records.

In addition to duathlon and half marathon the event is expanding to create a new half marathon team competition to go with the duathlon team competition. Many starting their spring fitness program maybe got a late start and they are not ready to tackle a half marathon by themselves or run two 5K’s and bike another 18 miles. The team division allows two-person teams to enter the competition and hand off a race baton at the midpoint of the half marathon or in the case of the duathlon one team member does the running the other does the biking.

Also new is the kid’s duathlon. This event is aimed at getting kids out to run and bike this spring. The event is free of charge for kids 6-12 and distances will be set according to age. Register for the event at www.cherryblossomfitness

festival.com or at Water’s Edge Health and Wellness Saturday, April 13, from 3 to 7 p.m. or 6:30 to 8:30 a.m. Sunday, April 14, at the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center.

Duathlon starts at 9 a.m. and the half marathon starts at 9:45 a.m. Kid’s race will start at 1 p.m. with registration open from noon to 12:45 p.m. Races will be timed by Nsprire timing company which allows for instant result posting on the web and Facebook.

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