Acting as a local encore to the Summer Olympics, Yakima Valley hosts its annual Downtown Yakima Mile on August 28. Every year, this event takes place at the core of Yakima. It is a gradual 14-block slope down Yakima Avenue designed to be the ideal mile-trek for casual and competitive runners alike.

Downtown Yakima Mile
Yakima Avenue is a straight shot through the center of the Yakima Valley, allowing elite runners like Amos Bartelsmeyer to focus only on the path in front of them. Photo courtesy: Downtown Yakima Mile

Brought together by the thoughtful minds of Chris Waddle and Erik Mickelson, locals who founded the Downtown Yakima Mile, this event is a hopeful cry of normalcy in the almost comically abnormal world we are living in today. And this year, you can help end domestic violence by participating in the Downtown Yakima Mile.

The mile descends down Yakima Avenue and is punctuated by the Larson Building, preluded by a quaint café aptly named Caffe’ 11th Avenue. This area is a historic and memorable part of Yakima that has seen and hosted countless memories. Often, these roads are decorated with vintage cars during the summer and feature timeless restaurants. What better place to host the mile than down a road populated so consistently by the oldest and most dedicated members of Yakima?

The mile is segregated into 11 different races, all pertaining to specific abilities and skill levels. Men’s, women’s, children’s competitive, family, and many others are all among these branching races. While the event strongly encourages the participation of folks of every ability, Director of Operations for the Yakima Mile Michelle Blanchard says, “The level of talent is going to be of the highest caliber,” signifying that some of the athletes taking part in the elite section of this race will produce some of the most intense and nail-biting performances the state has to offer.

Downtown Yakima Mile
One of the many types of races available with the Downtown Yakima Mile, the Dog-Walking Race, encourages the inclusion of your furry friend. Photo courtesy: Downtown Yakima Mile

For those seeking to challenge themselves in the competitive division, a qualifying time must be met to compete. The men’s qualifying time is 4:02, while the women’s is 4:45. The elite race offers an exciting challenge but also enticing prizes. A total of $46,500 in prize money will be distributed among the top six finishers winning $500-$5,000 for their placing. All three of the youth divisions will award their top five runners with a commemorative medal. Competing youth from ages 12-18 will also receive a Cotopaxi backpack for the top five placements.

Amos Bartelesmeyer presently holds the fastest mile times with a time of 3:51.76 in the men’s division, and Shelby Houlihan occupies the top of the women’s division with a time of 4:23.68. While the athletes are still a mystery this year, it is highly likely that whoever these folks will be, the race will not be something you’ll want to miss.

Downtown Yakima Mile
Amos Bartelsmeyer celebrating a record-breaking win. Who will be this year’s top runners? Photo courtesy: Downtown Yakima Mile

The integral cog of this year’s Downtown Yakima Mile is the tireless efforts of the YWCA. The YWCA of Yakima is a fundamental aspect of our community specializing in housing, support, and aid to victims of domestic abuse. The effects of quarantine through the COVID-19 pandemic rendered the YWCA’s services in higher demand than ever before. Proceeds of this year’s race will be used to support the non-profit’s efforts. Additionally, not to be overlooked are the many local sponsors that came together to make this year’s race a reality. Businesses from all over town are proudly displaying their engagement due to the important message presented by this event.

The race could be seen as a metaphor for domestic violence. Those who are able to run as they please freely are a symbol for the people who aren’t able to run from their abusers. These folks are trapped in their relationships, homes, and lives. Many of the runners this year are motivated by personal afflictions by domestic abuse, ultimately making this event one of the most meaningful ones to take place this year.

Downtown Yakima Mile
The Family Race endorses the participation of children of all ages, but those able to walk should take the final steps over the finish line! Photo courtesy: Downtown Yakima Mile

Whether you register to test yourself in a competitive race or have a healthy walk with your family, the Downtown Yakima Mile is the ideal way to spend your evening on August 28. Register today and enjoy a night out when the weather has begun to cool with a stroller-friendly, affordable, and stimulating bit of exercise. Even if you cannot or do not want to race, you can still show your support by accompanying the runners as a part of the crowd and cheering them on. Help to end domestic violence and support your town with the Downtown Yakima Mile.

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