- 13.1 miles/Half Marathon, 26.2 miles/Marathon
- Road Race
- Event Website
Had a fun time at a race recently. And I would like to tell you about it. First of all, I suppose I should say this is my 3rd time running this course. Well, kind of. I ran the marathon 2 years ago and then the half last year. I had actually signed up last year to run the full, but didn’t feel that I got enough long runs in to do a full marathon. I requested to change to the half, and I was immediately granted that request; no problems given. I figured I was running well, and would try to PR for the half instead of struggle with a full. I didn’t PR, but it was one of the fastest runs I had done.
Let’s begin this year’s story with the expo. I agreed to help out by volunteering for a shift of bib check-ins. This gave me the opportunity to have some pizza (on a day I was carb loading) and a very nice volunteer tech shirt. The shirts were offered for long sleeve, short sleeve or no sleeve. So, that was pretty cool and unique to this event. For those checking in for the 5th year, entrants were given a free coffee mug. It was a nice way to thank participants for their loyalty over the years. I suppose I’ll get mine in 2021!
The expo was held in the campus of the Colorado School of Mines. A place I wish I had attended college. The city of Golden, CO is in the mountains and has some breathtaking views around the expo location. Inside, there was a good number of vendors that provided a number of services. It was far from the biggest expo I had been to, but far from the smallest too. One of the fun areas offered participants temp tattoos with the Revel emblem, “26.2” and other fun items to have on you while you run. Another area had a big sign with all the entrants. Lots of photo booths were available to take selfies with props and backgrounds. It was a very fun experience.
The start of the race is always a bit of a frustration for me. The race itself doesn’t start until 6. But, since it’s a downhill race, they make everyone park at the bottom, close off the road and have busses take everyone to the top. This concept itself is fine. But, they make everyone get there from 3:30 – 4:15. This is very early to get there when the start time isn’t until 6. Yes, the bus ride up takes about 45 minutes. But, that means if you are on the last bus, you have to stay at the top for around an hour. And at the top of the mountain, before the sun comes up, and at 10,000+ ft, it is bitter cold. There is a bag check, so you can remain in sweats for a bit. But, that truck leaves around 20 minutes prior. So, there’s just no way to dress to run 26.2 miles, but also not freeze at the top before the race starts. Other races, like the Utah Valley, will have fire pits at the top to help out. Also, there were dozens of port-a-potties. But, from the length of the lines, it was clear that there were not enough to go around. Again though, this was my only frustration of the race. And I may be making it sound worse than it actually was. I just want to be honest with my analysis.
Well, this year, I had been training to qualify for the Boston Marathon and would use this downhill race to qualify; or at least attempt to. I recalled it having a mile of uphills around the halfway mark, but the rest being downhill, so that’s how I trained for it. And in the process, I began running better than I had ran before. I wanted to use this race, this year, for my BQ as I had just turned 40 and my qualifying time would drop. However, it appears there was about 3.5 miles of rolling hills; with most of those hills being significant. They started around mile 11 and continued until approximately 14.5 miles in. This slowed me down more than I was training to. But, I have to stress, the hills were my own fault.
The course itself was great. The scenery was magnificent. Everywhere you looked were mountains, streams, trees, and other natural beauty. It all looked picture perfect, and if I wasn’t trying to run fast, I supposed a person could spend much of the time just collecting photos of the majestic scenery. I really think this race is a must do for any runners living in Colorado for aesthetic beauty alone.
And the aid stations were great as well. I don’t think I went more than a couple miles at any one point before seeing another aid station. All aid stations had some great smiles from the volunteers There was also water, gu, Power Aid, and other aids at most of these stops. There were also much-needed port-a-potties at these stops in case they were needed.
The crowd participation is worth noting too. I saw a fair number of spectators cheering people on. And unlike some races, this one went through tiny little mountain communities where only a handful of people lived. So, to get any crowd support at all was noteworthy. But, to get this amount of crowd support was remarkable! It was fun the whole way down.
The finish area was spectacular! There was an announcer on a microphone that was listing everyone’s name as they were crossing the finish line. They had more volunteers than were necessary welcoming finishers as they crossed with water and a BIG medal. The sometimes-necessary first aid tent was right there at the finish line as well.
But, then the party area after was great. Free pizza and pie was an option to everyone. The bag check was nearby if you need to get comfy shoes. There was a beer garden avail for those of age. I was able to get a free massage with no line! And then there were so many stands to get pictures. There were props and signs saying all kinds of things: BQ, PR, 13.1, 26.2, etc. And of course, there was a beautiful mountain scene in the horizon as well. There was also a stand for runners to go by to get their official results printed up. Those who qualified for Boston could get a free passport prop to show off what they accomplished. It was a very fun loving area that had something for everyone.
How did I do? Well, I don’t know how to answer that. I did not qualify for Boston. I got some very bad cramps and was not able to push myself to continue “running” after around mile 18. I did some run/walking as well as some legitimate jogging. But the cramps preventing me from running the whole way. That said, I did the first half with sub-7 min miles This ended up being my PR for the 5K, 10K, half marathon and even full marathon. So, I got a PR; just no BQ. In fact, you can say that this was my best run I ever had. I did great. And this downhill, fast course really helped accomplish that. I thank God, my supporters and my wife for being able to do this well. Who would have though my fastest race would come AFTER I turned 40?!