I was asked to help mark the trail half marathon course last year. While we felt the course was marked adequately well, with the horrible weather conditions there were a few people who missed key turn-offs. This year I was determined to not lose a single person. The week of the race was supposed to be my comeback week after taking a week off following my Bryce 100 miler. It was supposed to be easy, with low miles. However, while Monday offered an easy cruise up View Benchmark, Wednesday proved to be a toughie with a fast ascent of Mount Raymond with Scott. Then we had to mark the course on Thursday evening, which ended up being about 10 miles of running. Unlike last year I decided to participate in the races this year and even go after the full challenge. Unfortunately, I was going in under recovered and a little tired from the three previous days of running (25 miles, 7000 vert).
Aaron made a spectacle of me prior to the start of the race and I think everyone felt that I would lead the way up the climb to Butterfield Peak. So when the gun went off the whole party of runners just let me lead out. It didn't take long for the previous three days to catch up to me though and I slowed considerably, allowing about 7 people to pass. Ashley, another Altra Ambassador, tucked in behind me and we just chatted with a few other people almost the whole way to the top. At the critical turn-off only a couple of people failed to see the markings and went straight. I yelled for them to come back and they only ended up losing about 30 seconds.
About 20 ft into the start of the trail half
Making our way up to Butterfield Peak
Ashley and I acting, well, pretty normal after the trail half
I definitely don't have to explain how tired I was going into Saturday's marathon. I was beat. My focus was on holding off the other Oquirrhman runners and just trying to finish with a respectable time. They start the marathon and half marathon at the same time at the top of Butterfield Canyon. It's a 7 mile, 2000 ft descent down the canyon, to some rolling ups and downs until mile 15. Then the course is a steady climb for the next 7 miles, getting steeper with each mile to the top of the paved road up Rose Canyon. It then turns around and runs the same last 3.5 miles as the trail half back to the park and finish line.
Rachel, me, and Ashley before the start of the marathon
Our (by our I mean mine and Ashley's) goal was a 3:45 marathon, just cruiser and easy. Once starting down the road though gravity took over and we were averaging 7 min/miles all the way to the bottom (still very easy). The pack had spread out; I knew we were in the lead for the challenge, but we actually found ourselves in 3rd place together in the overall marathon. The other two guys were way out front though. We continued our 7 min/mile pace all the way to mile 15 and oddly found ourselves catching the front runners. By mile 16 we had actually passed them both and were now in the lead. But Ashley was pulling ahead. She was definitely more fresh. And lets be honest, she's just a better marathoner than me. Over that long 7 miles to 22 my pace continued to slow and her lead increase. The good news though was that the people behind me were falling even further back, so by the time I turned around at mile 22 I knew I had 2nd place overall, and 1st place male locked up. And I would take 2nd place overall in the Oquirrhman Challenge behind Ashley. Not a bad way to finish the weekend. What was also really awesome was to see my good friend Rachel Moody take 2nd female in the marathon and 3rd overall in the Oquirrhman Challenge. That's right, of the top three finishers, two were women. Brilliant!
Finishing the marathon with cramping calves
Oquirrhman top 3
Now, a few days later, my calves are wrecked and I'm still pretty tired overall. I am definitely not used to running that fast and that far on pavement. It's good for me though. I'll tell you what, Aaron puts on an amazing race. There were frequent aid stops, tons of port O potties along the course, and he had more than just water/gatorade and gels at aid stations (bananas, oranges, and pretzels). The local police force who helped were incredible and the finish area is fantastic with the park and everything else. If you are looking for a challenging couple of days of running I would definitely recommend this race for 2014. I sure plan to be there again.