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Blooms to Brews marathon returning to Woodland area in 2020

LONGVIEW — The Woodland City Council denied a 2020 permit for the popular Blooms to Brews marathon last summer, but organizers are putting it on anyway — just outside city limits.

The event will take place April 25-26 at West Coast Training’s Dike Road facility. The tentative route mostly hugs the Lewis and Columbia rivers along Dike Road.

In June, Mayor Will Finn cited years of traffic snarls and inadequate cleanup in recommending the council deny race organizer Elba Benzler’s event company Get Bold Events from holding the race again.

“As one door closes, a lot of times we don’t recognize another door opening,” Benzler said Friday, quoting telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell. “That was me over the summer.”

The marathon will be accompanied by a smorgasbord of other races: A marathon relay, half-marathon, 10K and 5K races and two new 1-mile races for kids 5 to 14 and 13 and up. Shorter-distance races will be an opportunity for youngsters to get off the sofa and compete in some friendly school rivalry, Benzler said.

Unlike in previous years, this year’s marathon will not be Boston-Marathon qualifying. Benzler said he and his team will discuss re-certifying it for future years.

Benzler had asked the Woodland City Council to reconsider its permit denial, seeking an opportunity to address official concerns and noting the retail revenue the race brought to the city. Nearly 1,500 participants and 500 spectators showed up for last year’s event, Benzler said.

Nevertheless, Finn and the council declined.

“It was hard,” Benzler said. He considered moving the marathon to a new location, but the Woodland area remained the ideal place.

One of his staff members suggested hosting it just outside of city limits. So Benzler eventually struck an agreement with West Coast Training to reopen the race on their property.

Benzler said he’ll continue encouraging racers to visit Woodland restaurants, hotels and other businesses. He said he’s learned a lesson from billing the McMenamins Kalama Harbor Lodge as their host hotel last year — a decision Finn criticized as unfair toward Benzler’s partnership with Woodland. The event’s website this year highlights Woodland lodging.

“When McMenamins heard about our event last year, they paid to be the host, and we did bill their hotel,” Benzler said. “In hindsight, I realized it upset people. … This year, we’re trying to push people into all the businesses of Woodland.”


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