Latest reviews by Kate
I LOVED this race!! I knew I'd like it, but had said this was a one time race in my quest to run a race for each military branch (Air Force last year), but now I want to do it every year! I'm going to skip to post race first: I got to meet for dinner with 3 of my twitter friends. We are from FL, NY, DC, & NM. Hearing what each of us thought about different parts of the race we had JUST finished was so diverse! I realized that every persons race is different because of where they trained and what races they have ran before. If someone had been sitting there listening they might have thought we were at different races.
So let me start this review telling you about where I come from. I live in the deserts of New Mexico. It's flat. It's hot. It's boring. I've ran large races (RnR Las Vegas & San Antonio, Air Force, Diva 1/2s in Myrtle Beach and San Francisco) but this was the largest full I had done. I live in a small town. An isolated town that is 3 hours from anything.
Registering: I raised money for the Semper Fi Fund to be a charity runner instead of winning the lottery.
Expo: I think this was the best expo I had ever attended. RnR Las Vegas may have been bigger, but it was so crowded it was almost impossible to shop. MCM Expo was perfect! You could browse, talk to the venders, get all the samples. I #boughtalltheclothes. Seriously, I went a little crazy, but remember, I do not have running stores where I can see and try on clothes. The selections were varied and stock was plentiful even into Saturday afternoon!
Tshirt & Swag: The race shirt is a very warm long sleeve mock turtleneck. A very nice shirt but, it's brown. Not my favorite, but you can't please everyone all the time. I think there was swag to go with the shirt, but in my effort to avoid the Brooks store until later (the checkout lines were long) I missed the swag. It wasn't in a bag ready to go with the shirts.
Pre-race: You are starting by the Pentagon (aka they are not letting you park anywhere near the Pentagon for security reasons) so be prepared to walk quite a ways to get to the start line from whatever means of transportation you use to get closest.
Opening Ceremonies: American flags were parachuted in. One of those was Medal of Honor winner, Kyle Carpenter. There was also a flyover by Ospreys. Everything about the opening ceremonies was moving and inspirational!
The race hills: So here's where reviews will be different. Was it flat, kinda hilly, crazy hilly, or why did they make us climb mountains? For me, it was somewhere between kinda and crazy hilly. I had read about the hills and had trained on the only hill in my town. It's 2 blocks long. Once a week I ran up and down those 2 blocks 10 times. I just imaged that every hill was that local hill and told myself I could do it and I know that helped me be less intimidated by them. They weren't easy, but I managed.
The race scenery: AMAZING!!!!! This was my first trip to DC and so everything was new and awe inspiring to see. We saw the Washington, Jefferson & Lincoln Monuments, the Korean & WWII memorials, many of the Smithsonian museums, the Capital building, the Pentagon and ended at the Marine Memorial (Iwo Jima flag raising). I also loved the fall foliage!
The race support: I do not think you could ever find better volunteers and cheering crowds. However, one of my friends had just completed the Chicago Marathon and said the crowds were 10 times the size and she expected more. I was thrilled, though! I loved seeing the Marines and charity groups running the aid stations! The most moving section was right before halfway where one of the charities had posted signs with the names and photos of service members killed in action. I slowed down to read every name and weep. The crowds and marines cheering you on, especially at the finish were so inspiring to me! Also the signs were hilarious. Good job MCM supporters! You rock! :)
The race weather: I thought we couldn't ask for better weather! Start was in the mid 40s and finish was low 70s. I started with a throw away sweatshirt, but actually took it off at the start line and ran in short sleeves. It was a cool start and I had wished I'd had a pair of gloves for 2 miles, but I survived. Later on when you were in the sun it was definitely warm, but not too hot. It was breezy. Others would describe it as windy, but again, it depends on where you train.
The race finish: Running toward the Marine Memorial was very emotional for me. I had to compose myself and wipe the tears away before the Marine could put my medal on and give me a hug and take pictures. I cannot imagine a more meaningful way to finish a large race like this! The medal is GORGEOUS!!! I wore it for 3 days and am still carrying it in my purse 2 weeks later in case anyone asks about the race. I can't bear to hang it up yet.
Overall: I think this is a race that every runner should add to their bucket list. I hope to be there next year for the 40th MCM!
This was my first trail run of any kind, so I have nothing to compare it with as far as trails, BUT after many road races I can compare the organization, the volunteers, the aid-stations, the scenery, the shirt, the post race MEAL and on those levels this race excelled!
The Reason: This was a very well run race for a worthy cause. Cloudcroft NM is a very small mountain town that has been hurt by drought, fires, and lack of snow. In a mountain tourist town, this is bad news. The race benefited the Middle School Athletics Programs which are not funded by the state. Middle school and high schoolers had teams participating and had made signs to cheer us on!
The Trail: This is 8 miles of mountain trail and trails that had at one time been railroad track. It was rocky (mostly gravel size), single track with some grass, tree roots and such over the trail in spots.
The Elevation: The race starts at almost 9000 feet!! Nine. Thousand. Feet.
The Course: Starting at ~9000 feet you drop down to ~7600 and then back up to ~9000. I do not have mountains like that to train on, so I struggled, but it was fun! The last 2.5 miles are all uphill. You will go through a tunnel & over a pedestrian bridge as you cross over the highway through town twice.
The Aid Stations: There were 3 on the course, one you passed twice, so four chances to get water, sliced oranges and bananas. I do not remember them having gatorade, only water. The spacing was perfect!
The Volunteers: Super helpful and supportive. They even had volunteers stationed at any turns that could be missed to make sure everyone stayed on course. This was in addition to the well marked signs all along the trail.
The Finish: The last quarter mile is probably the hardest part of the trail. It was very steep and had "steps" to navigate. These were railroad ties used as steps to make it safer to get from the visitor center (aka start/finish) to the lookout point that the race passed. We had to go up the steps. Then suddenly the trail opens up, turns to asphalt trail, and you can hear the band playing and people cheering. I found energy I didn't know I had and ran it in from there!
The Meal: The Cloudcroft High School Culinary Arts Program provided a post race brunch free for runners and $5 for guests. IT. WAS. AMAZING! The best (and most) post race food I have ever seen! Here's what I can remember being on the buffet they had set up for us and all were homemade no pre-packaged foods: cream puffs (CREAM PUFFS!!!), fruit salad, eggs, sausage, hash browns, burritos, french toast, yogurt/blueberries/graham cracker parfaits, apples, oranges, bananas, pears, orange juice, coffee and every imaginable condiment you might want for those foods. It was all delicious and the kids were great to help serve and keep the food stocked.
Overall: I may have fallen in love with trail running and Cloudcroft NM! This is a race I can't wait to do again!!! The scenery and views were fantastic! The picture I posted shows how high up we were that we could see White Sands National Park in the distance. I took several pictures along the route because it was so pretty. My husband says that I will never be a serious runner as long as I'm stopping to take pics, but if that's the case, I'll never be a serious runner. lol!