I’ll confess, I entered the lottery for this marathon because of the allure of a fast race. It was not fast for me, but it was one of the best races I’ve ever run. From a beautiful landscape to impeccable organization, this is a marathon not to miss.
Course: stunning. You watch the sun rising over mountainous rock formations. Mile 14 is especially amazing with a white limestone rock formation – snow something – you don’t have to know the name, you just have to look up. If you don’t take in the scenery during this race and only look at your feet, you shouldn’t sign up.
Aid Stations. Plentiful and loaded with volunteers. This also means icy hot, Vaseline, oranges, bananas, Gatorade, water every few miles. A little cup cluttered (but I blame that on the runners, not the organizers) as the pavement is littered with discarded cups for a good .1 miles around each station. A lot of aid too. This is the race to get hurt. Misters, cold towels and ice packs are offered later in the race – who could want more? These people love their runners.
Top of the Mountain. Okay, you have to get on a bus between 4 and 5am for a 6:45 am start – not a plus. But, the organizers do everything they can to make it worth your time. The top of the race is rather chilly, but they provide you with foil wraps, gloves (until they run out) and bonfires. I’ve never seen so many port-o-potties and I’ve run rock ‘n’ rolls with thousands of marathoners and half marathoners…that being said, there was still a crazy long line just before the race began.
St. George people: This is an event. The beginning of the course is not full of spectators – it is a rather remote area…but the people who do have homes in the area come out to cheer you on. When you get closer in to town, the streets are lined with people offering popsicles.
Technical: the course is a bit deceiving. The downhills are steep, but there are definitely some hills. The very beginning is quite declined, tempting you (me) to go out too fast which only results in a poor finish. Miles 7 to 11 are a clear uphill. Uphills are peppered throughout the rest of the course.
Pavement: ouch. It is pavement with a rocky surface so my feet felt as if they were being scraped on sandpaper for most of the miles. I searched for smoother surfaces…but no luck. Some of the race has a canted surface too – be careful of this uneven running, it’ll cause knee and hip misalignment and pain.
Post Race Party: Lackluster. If you are ever at a race that has Texas Roadhouse as a post-race snack, run the other way (or hobble as fast as you can.) The smell of biscuits and barbecue is not optimal after running 26.2 miles. Great Harvest was there with white or wheat bread – but slathered with butter (butter is not post-race food.) I will say the presence of Blue Bunny is a positive – I couldn’t face my bomb pop (don’t tell me it isn’t vegan, I don’t want to know) as I was suffering from serious post-race nausea, but a good idea in theory.
I loved this race, even though I didn’t love my time. My hopes of doing it right and fast and qualifying for Boston were destroyed by too quick a start and serious pain in my heel (bursitis) and cramping (everywhere). I hurt yesterday and today — I don’t usually feel too much after a marathon.
I also loved this race because it taught me a lesson. Expectations hold you back. Too much analysis, too much hoping – it gets in your head. Next time, if I ever do hit the literal lottery and run this race again, I’m just going to go.