Sunday, September 29, 2013

Big Cottonwood Half Marathon

FAST! That is the best thing about this race. If you are trying to hit a PR that you haven’t been able to hit, this is the race for you. It’s downhill almost the whole way, the last three miles or so have a slight incline. I was able to beat my goal time by two minutes and beat my previous PR by 6 minutes! The bad part is, I am pretty sure my time will only go up from here.

Along with fast, it is a really pretty race. It’s the perfect time of year, end of summer, the leaves in the canyon are starting to change and the temperature is optimal for runners. 

The race director has put together an excellent website that has all the information you will ever need. They also respond really quickly to questions. The communication was really top notch. Well, except for at the starting line, but we’ll get to that!

Packet pickup was super-fast, kind of like the course. There weren’t many vendors there and the ones that were had empty tables. Kind of a disappointment but not much can be done if the vendors don’t want to sell anything at the expo.

The shirts are comfortable and not bad to look at. I love the navy blue color. We even got to pick if we wanted long or short sleeves. I picked short sleeve but regretted it during the long wait up the canyon. The long sleeve shirts had the thumb hole and looked pretty warm on that cold, cold morning. Alright it wasn’t that cold considering that they provided gloves and a Mylar blanket. You don’t know how warm those small pieces of tinfoil keep you until you take it off to do a port-a-potty run.

Buses to the start were great, there was no waiting to get on. Of course, no one wanted to get off when we hit the top. We even tried to talk our bus driver into letting us sit there for a little while. 

Someone should have warned me to do some neck strengthening exercises before this race. The medal was so heavy I thought I might strain a muscle. The thing is HUGE and it spins. Yup you read it correctly, the middle of the medal spins! Just another great thing about this race.

Just the other day, I got a post card from them with my time, pace and finishing place overall, gender, and age division. That was super cool! I am totally keeping that for proof of my PR (because apparently the hubby needs official proof before I get my award for hitting my goal).

Regrettably, there were a few things that needed improvement. The start line; I was seriously confused. They dropped us at a spot up the canyon that had enough room from all the runners and the 40 plus porta potties (yeah that was awesome!). Unfortunately, we were unable to hear whatever announcement was made about heading to the start line. I am not sure how many people actually heard the announcement because everyone I talked to didn’t know what was going on. The baggage truck with the huge spotlight started heading down the canyon, and 1500 runners started following. A quarter of a mile later, we see the start line. It was a nice warm up but caused me a little anxiety when the gun went off and I was still in the long line to drop my bag. Yes, I know gun time and chip time are different and it doesn’t really matter. But I like it when there is plenty of warning before the gun goes off and runners have been warned and warned to get their bag in the truck.

While there was a ton of food after the race, there was an even bigger line. I wasn’t willing to stand in the line but I was told they had heaps of goodies provided by Whole Foods. Jimmy Johns was in a separate area and their line was small so I grabbed a sandwich and water. I know there were a lot of runners, but there had to be a better way to get food to the runners quickly and easily. 

If you want to know if I will do this one again, YES! It was an overall fantastic race. I give this race 4 shoes and hope that next year we see an improved start and finish line experience.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Top Of Utah Half Marathon 2013

Top of Utah Half Marathon 2013 is definitely at the top of our list! I do have an emotional bond with this race; it was my first half marathon a few years ago.  After running a few different races, I am glad my running hobby started at the Top of Utah.

Packet pickup was smooth and un-crowded. Got our stuff within 10 minutes and looked around at the few vendors they had. Wish there were a few more vendors but I still found a great new running shirt! After seeing the race shirt, I decided I “needed” a different look. I was not happy with the glow in the dark yellow racing shirt, but apparently I was the only one that didn’t like it. When I brought it home and showed the kids they all loved it. Even the hubby loved it! I guess my fashion sense is a little off.

Loved that the race peeps sent out emails and updated their Facebook page regularly. There was a fire in the canyon that threatened the race; they were on top of it every step of the way. There were several updates posted on their Facebook page and they sent out an email when the race was cleared to continue as scheduled.

The course was beautiful, even with the small amount of fire damage. There were even a few fire fighters’ on the route to cheer us on. Big, huge thank you to all those fire fighters’ who risked their lives!

Aid stations were great, fully stocked, and had lots of volunteers. I would have thrown in another aid station, but apparently I am getting picky about when I get a drink. Maybe it’s time for me to start carrying my own water.

The medal was nice, with a cute moose, but nothing special. Maybe next year they can do a medal that is a moose! That would be a medal worth running for.

After race support was AWESOME! They had tons of stuff including chocolate milk. Yup, I am easily impressed when you throw chocolate in the mix. I love races that offer Great Harvest Bread; carbs are terrific after all that running. 

To top off a great race, I got a PR and won a blanket in the raffle. I’ll be back next year, considering trying their full marathon! This race earned 4 shoes.