- 13.1 miles/Half Marathon, 26.2 miles/Marathon
- Road Race
- Event Website
I've been wanting to do a Revel race for some time now but my work/school schedule and finances kept getting in the way. About a month before the race I realized that work/school actually put me in a position to run Mt. Lemmon as I would already have to be in AZ for a conference and a good friend would be running the half. I flew into Phoenix, rented a car, and drove the easy 90 minutes to Tuscon. I was able to crash in my friend's hotel room (she was excited I was finally able to experience a Revel race - this was her 5th one) so the whole situation was win-win, even if I had just run Marine Corps 6 days earlier; I figured it was worth it to check off another marathon state. Before going into details I'll just say that Revel puts on an amazing race and it's a MUST DO event. I'm confident any of their races will be equally as awesome and I can't wait to do another one myself. Top notch course, top notch management, top notch service.
Expo: for a relatively small race the expo was mighty and awesome. Bib pickup is fast/easy. The race shirts are really nice and you have the option to pick different styles as well. I opted for the standard short sleeve, v-neck, athletic shirt but you can pay a little extra to get different variations including tank, long sleeve, or a soft fashion tee. The quality of all the shirts are very nice. You can also easily switch sizes and/or styles at the expo. After bib and shirt pickup there's the Revel store with tons of awesome swag for purchase. BEWARE: the product and designs are so awesome you'll want to give them all your money! I got a really cozy soft hoodie and a cool chain necklace with the revel logo (a mountain) and "I can do hard things" because...of course. Revel also has an app where you can earn points for registering for races and visiting various booths at the expo. When you accrue enough points you can earn free race registrations, training packages, swag, etc. They also pick people from within the app to win these prizes as raffles. It's definitely a great way to get people excited about all the Revel races and keep people coming back for more; there were many people at the race who were Revel groupies for sure. I know I want to be one. I got a much needed free neck and shoulder massage, had some fun in the photo booth with my friend, and then listened to the Revel coach, Paul, break down the course and strategy in great detail. This was very helpful since I hadn't had much time to consider the course besides 1) it starts at high elevation and 2) involves running downhill for 22-ish miles.
Race morning: Revel races start EARLY. Since they often involve running down mountain roads they bus you up there very early and there's no option to drive yourself or have someone drop you off at the top. The earliest marathon buses for Mt. Lemmon start at Mariposa resort at 4am. Yes, it's early, but the system works well. There's plenty of parking at the resort and then you can sleep on the bus for the hour it takes to get the start, i.e. you don't have to drive yourself up a dark, scary, winding mountain road at 4 am. For Mt. Lemmon this year, the first two bus loads of people were able to stay warm inside the community center at the start, although it did seem like most of the marathoners were able to get in the building. There were some restrooms in the community center and plenty of port-o-johns outside that had no lines. They also had a food truck with coffee and breakfast items for sale. It was around 40 degrees at the top with some wind gusts, but I felt warmer than expected when standing outside, maybe because there is no humidity. One of the great Revel perks is that they include throwaway gloves and heat sheet in your swag bag so you don't have to worry about finding throwaway clothes at home or goodwill before the race. I wore the heat sheet around my legs and had an Atlanta Track Club throwaway warmup jacket over my singlet. I spent most of the waiting inside but when I was outside I was very comfortable. The last buses up the mountain were a bit delayed so we started about 15 minutes late. Since Revel is responsible for getting everyone to the start it's easy for them to just start when everyone gets there so no one had to worry about missing the start, as long as they made it on the bus in time. We started at 6:45am, during a beautiful sunrise.
The course: the first 4 miles are uphill at 8000+ feet elevation. Not gonna lie, this hurt bad. Running at elevation is no joke. However, coach Paul reminded everyone the day before to be patient, after mile 4 it's easy to make up the lost time from the first 4 miles. Everyone has to drop the heat sheets before the start (the metal can mess up your timing chip) and then I shed the gloves and my throwaway jacket by time I reached the top of the 4 mile climb. From mile 4-26 it's a net 5500+ feet loss in elevation, with most miles losing 200-300 feet. If you train for downhill effort you'll fly through those miles. For me, I was not prepared to run downhill for that long so I flew until about the halfway mark and then started to die as my quads failed me. Since I wasn't really trained for this I kind of expected it but was still surprised by how difficult it was. Just take note: yes, downhill marathons can equate to PRs or BQs if you train smart specifically for those conditions, but it's not easy sailing if you're not prepared. It will hurt...a lot. The course itself is spectacularly beautiful. I mean, absolutely stunning. The road is essentially closed so there's no spectators except for the people you see every 2 miles at water stops, so you'll have the whole time just to take in the views and chat with other runners. Bring music if you don't like being alone with your thoughts. Water stops start at mile 3 and come like clockwork after that at every odd mile. Each stop includes water, powerade, and bathrooms. There are 12 stops and about 5 of them include stinger gels and/or fruit as well. The volunteers were really nice and helpful and the stops were always well stocked and staffed. The intervals between water stops made them great places to take a rest from the downhill onslaught and stretch a bit.
On course photos and videos: There are several places along the course where they take pictures and video. These are offered FREE after the race. They actually put together a video montage of your course highlights. I LOVE this added benefit and wish more races would roll photos into the cost of registration. Considering Revel marathons cost between $100 -$120 (pretty standard race pricing) depending on when you register, the amount of swag and services you receive is amazing, especially compared to other races. It's just really top notch service all around and an amazing value.
Post race: free beer (2 beer tickets but they gave us more), free pizza, free french toast (amazing!), music and chilling with other finishers. We basically hung out until they were closing shop and then took the shuttle buses back to our cars. Not much more you can ask for!
Final thoughts: I hope it's pretty clear from this extensive review that Revel Mt. Lemmon (and I suspect their other races as well) is a top notch event, with tons of awesome benefits, stunningly beautiful course, great volunteers, great race management, and a fast course (if you train for it!). I can't think of a reason why you shouldn't do this race.