Latest reviews by Lloyd Garcia

(2019)
"Half Marathon review (didn't let me change to the half)"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

This is the 2nd year this race has gone on. Though I had a number of critiques during the inaugural event, this one went much smoother. First of all, last year there was a huge parking issue (you can see my review for that for more info). This year, the start line/finish line was pretty much the same spot for all distances. And there was more then enough parking for all! So, that was good.

I also did the full last year; and the half this year. So, there may be some issues that differ for me, specifically. I paced this year as well. I held the 1:50 sign to help those who were looking at a PR. How did I do? Well, it kind of depends on what you consider. First of all there was no timing mat for the half. So, everyone had to just use their own Garmin (or for me Fitbit). And there were no half markers. We would run along the course and occasionally see a mile marker, but it was for the full, and it didn't match up with where we were at. That said, the full runners told me that it wasn't marked correctly for their course either! So, if you were running with your watch, it was an accurate course. But, pacers need accurate mile markers, which we did not get. I ended up crossing at nearly 1:50 exactly according to my fitbit, but my coach though I came in late by a few seconds. Again that was because I didn't cross the starting line when the gun went off and there was no timing mats. So, I did alright, I just didn't get credit for it, per se.

The course was much better. There were vast improvements. We got to run by the capital and several of the more notable spots in Cheyenne. If I had my wish, we would've ran along the tracks of Central and East; but I grew up in that town and ran track. There was a very difficult hill around mile 6 that caused a lot of slowing for some of the runners. I was prepared for it, so I was okay. But, that's not to say it was easy; it wasn't. Also, the web site didn't show the course map (for the half) or the elevation chart. So, I think it caught a lot of runners by surprise. I actually asked these from the race director. She provided all that for me. But, it wasn't updated on the site.

The medal was pretty cool. Most of my runner friends agreed. The shirt was very basic and plain. I actually liked the shirt much better last year. With all the other race shirts I have in my closet, it's doubtful I'll ever wear that one again. But, do you race for shirts? Do you already have too many?

You may think I'm, in general, dissatisfied with it. Quite the contrary. There were a lot of great parts. The scene was fun. One friend of mine told me, "I never knew a town like this actually still existed." So many were so impressed with the old school feeling of "Ole Cheyenne." It's the biggest town in a very small state. A place where there are more antelope than people. So, if you're going there for a big event, you're in the wrong place. But, as far as Wyoming races are concerned, this is probably the best one to do. If you're a 50 stater; I strongly suggest this race to cross of Wyoming. I doubt it will be anyone's favorite race. But, it's not bad. I will try to do it every year. They made so many vast improvements over the past year, that I'm sure it will just keep getting better and the director will make appropriate adjustments.

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(2019)
"Fun, fast course"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

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?!

 

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(2019)
"Fun, fast course"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

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?!

 

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(2018)
"This was the inaugural run. I have to keep that in mind while I go over the review. "
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

The expo was outside in a popular area downtown. Because it was a beautiful day, it worked out well! I think if it was snowy, rainy, etc, this would’ve been a bad idea. It was doubly good idea that this took place at the finish line area. That way it was easy for out-of-towners to know where the end point was. The expo itself was small. It’s a small town and a small race, so I don’t know what someone would expect. Not a lot of freebies or “big” sponsors there. Mostly a few local doctors and some nearby races. What was very fun about the expo was listening to Dr. Brent Weigner who has ran in all continents 10 times and Jerry Reif who has completed a sub 3hr marathon in all 50 states. Listening to their stories was great. It’s good to hear from them, specifically, as they are locals to Cheyenne, WY. All in all, the expo was about as great as a small town could offer; better really!

Then race day showed up! The start of the marathon was at a place called Archer; quite a bit outside of town. The parking lot was in front of a very large building. All the runners got there, and the first thing they did was run to the building to use the restroom. But, IT WAS CLOSED. All doors were locked; I know, I tried them all. And there were no port-o-potties. So, this was a bit frustrating. Later on, I found there was another building across the road that offered places to pee; but it wasn’t advertised in a meaningful way. Also, coming into the event center before the sun came up caused other problems. There were no “marathon this way,” signs out. There were signs for an October Fest which may have caused some confusion for some. When we got out of our cars, we looked around and couldn’t see anything resembling a start line or any real direction. There was a bus and several police officers. But, they didn’t know what was going on either. Eventually, we found the start line was about a half a mile from the parking lot. But, in pitch black, that was not evident. The bus did take people to the start line once they got their orders, so that was kind of nice. But, then at the start line there was one port-o-potty. Not one row; ONE port-o-potty!

Then the race started. It was fine. The first half was running outside of town in some fields. There was no real scenery or town to see. It was just 13 miles of tall, yellow grass. There was also an issue many complained about that during that first half, we kept going back and forth from gravel to pavement. It wasn’t bad; just odd. The halfway point hit at a park that was the start line for the half marathon. And we just ran along their route. This is where I started getting nostalgic. I grew up in Cheyenne, which is a big reason I signed up for this race. So, I ran by my old pre-school, Jr. High, Sr. High, churches, etc. I got to re-live my childhood as I ran around my old stomping grounds. We ran through several parks including the center they host the yearly, Cheyenne Frontier Days. The only thing I heard complained about along the course was the lack of aid stations. There was one less than a mile into the marathon. I don’t think I saw the next aid station until mile 7. And the medics were told not to hand out any salt or aspirin. This is out of the ordinary for a marathon. I heard several people cramp up and get frustrated at the volunteers and medical personal.

The finish line area was nice. If you’re familiar with Cheyenne, it was at the Depot. After crossing the finish line, there were people giving out medals and then you could walk into the old train depot to get food, a free beer and even a massage! The crowd support at the end was great too considering the population of the town.

As for the swag, it was pretty good. The medal was big and unique. It was very “Wyoming.” The medal wasn’t huge; but it was a good size, and the ribbon was a great print. The shirt fit a bit large, but it was fun. It is comfortable and of good quality. I can’t say it was a bad shirt at all. Not going to be one of my favorites either though. I give it 7 out of 10.

What wasn’t good about the end was the shuttle back. You weren’t allowed to park at the finish line. They wanted everyone to park at Archer; which is a long way from the finish line. I went to get onto the shuttle, only to hear that it just left and the next one would be there in 20-30 minutes. That’s a long time to wait when you’re sore, sweating, hurting and stink to high heaven. There weren’t even any chairs there to sit on while you wait. They should’ve given parking passes downtown and then bussed people to the start line. That would’ve cleared up the parking situation AND the confusion at the start of the race. But, again, this is their inaugural year!

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(2018)
"Fast times in the Rocky Mountain High"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

After 6 months of training, it all boiled down to this……changing my mind last minute and doing the half. So, to give a bit more detail, I had been training for a full marathon with the desire to use this race as a trainer for next year’s race. I want to qualify for Boston, but I’m going to wait until I’m 40 to do that, as it will be that much more obtainable. I turn 40 late this year, so 2019 is my goal year to qualify and then join other runners in 2020. As such, I wanted to run this race this year so I’ll be that much better next year when I (hopefully) BQ! However, due to a number of events, I never got many 20+ training runs in. I also have been going super fast up to that 13.1 marker. And though I want to get more full marathons under my belt, I was thinking that this race may be difficult to finish the full, but I would have a legitimate chance to PR. I haven’t PR’d since 2013 and since my surgery in 2015, I was thinking I wouldn’t be able to have a PR ever again. So, though I really struggled making this decision, I decided to just run the half instead.
So, how did it go? Well, I disappointed myself. I got very close to a PR. And though it was a great run, it was only my SECOND fastest race of my life. I got 1:36 and change making it a 7:22 pace. And for a consolation, I will say this is the fastest half in my home state by a long shot. Since I live in CO, I have competed in a dozen or so races. And, yes, many of them have also been downhill runs. Yet, with the altitude, it’s typical for me to run in the low 1:50s. So, to go from that to the 1:30s was surprising and satisfying. So, it’s not a PR, but it was a PR for my home state. And I’ll take what I can get!
What about the rest of the race events? Well, I should’ve started with the expo as I normally do. In order to afford this race, I volunteered for the expo. ALL DAY! I got there in the morning, and stayed right before it was over. I handed out bibs to other competitors. And this was a satisfying experience. I know a lot of other runners from facebook. Many of them, I never really talk to, but I do recognize their faces. So, it was great to meet people I’ve kinda known for years. Also, it was neat to see people in plain clothes one day and then recognize them the next day in their race outfits. The big problem was that standing on my feet all day did cause me some foot issues that I didn’t want the day before a race. But, in the end, that didn’t turn out to be a problem. The race director allowed me to get off a bit before the expo was over. So, I did see it. However, by the time I went through, some of the vendors were out of free stuff and a handful had already packed up. So, though it didn’t seem like the best expo, I feel it’s unfair for me to rate it as I didn’t “really” see it.
Then the course…..WOW is this course beautiful!!! It runs through the rocky mountains, so it’s a breathtaking experience….and not just due to the elevation. Ha. It’s also mostly downhill. For the half, the first 2 miles have a good deal of uphill portions, and then every step from there on is down. And the full does hit that spot during their halfway mark. Sometimes the grade is steeper than others, but that downhill really helps the time. There are also well seen mile markers. There were a number of strategically placed aid stations. And there were free race photos easily postable to facebook. They also had some of the best pacers I’ve ever seen hitting the mark within seconds. And it was super cold at the starting area, but they planned for that by giving everyone a free blanket and gloves with their swag bag. I can’t say anything negative about this gorgeous run.
The swag: The finishers medal was big. It was bulky and attractive; I really cannot complain about this. They also gave a runner’s hat to all. This is something I didn’t think I ever wanted until I got it. I even saw someone a week later with the hat on, so I was able to talk to her about the race. The race shirt was nice, but very plain. It had the Revel logo on the front where a pocket would be, but nothing else. There was nothing at all on the back either; no sponsors, no event date, just blank. The race name and details did appear on the right sleeve, but the font was roughly the same color as the shirt, so you can’t read it easily. As such, it appears you’re just wearing a plain shirt from afar. If you didn’t run the race or know what the Revel logo is, most people would have no clue this is a race shirt. Which in all reality, isn’t that bad of a problem. I will say the quality of the shirt is top notch. It’s very soft and comfortable to wear.
The finish area was awesome. On their bib, everyone got a coupon for a free: pizza slice, BIG French toast and a beer. I even saw some people trading. In addition there were mini donuts, bananas and water. I felt it was a very well run finishing experience. They even had a fun place where people could hold up PR and BQ signs to commemorate their accomplishment.
In the end, I highly recommend this race to anyone who is trying to go fast. Yes, the altitude can be a problem for some. But, it’s a fun race that is well organized. The people are top notch, and the guy giving out bibs for last names D-F is amazing! If you want to get a BQ or a PR, this is the race to choose. Just do yourself a favor and train for it by running downhills. The only comments I heard in the negative were from those who didn’t properly train for a continuous downhill event. Can’t wait to do this one and 2 others next year when I punch my ticket to Boston!

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