For marathon #60, I chose the Mid Mountain Marathon in Park City. I chose this race for a few reasons, but the main reason was that it was the last race in the Triple Trail Challenge (with the Jupiter Peak Steeple Chase and the Park City Marathon). If I completed this race I would have earned an AWESOME embroidered Marmot jacket (and bragging rights) as a Triple Trail Challenge finisher. All of these races are incredibly difficult.
I have run a few trail races and with the exception of the Corner Canyon 50K I ran last year, I have never done a trail marathon, so needless to say I was quite nervous. The Jupiter Peak Steeple Chase left me with a twisted ankle, blisters and a bloody back (from my Camelback) and it was only 16 miles. With the NYC Marathon coming soon, I just could NOT get injured!
The race started at 8:00am and thanks to my dear friends Bob and Teresa who offered me the guest room in their Park City condo, I was able to pick up our packets Friday evening (instead of battling the crowds on race morning) and we were able to sleep in until 6:00am (very rare for marathon morning).
As we all gathered at the start, it was great to see a lot of Marathon Maniac friends. Some I haven't seen in a while, like Franz Kolb and some Maniacs I had never met like, Sarah Englund and Stacia Brandner Brack Klundt.
Maniacs at the start.
Lining up to the start line.
Before the start the Race Director informed us that there had been a course change that meant we would now be going over Iron Mountain (another 2,000 foot climb). I was not worried about it as I had never run this course before and didn't know what to expect without it, so off we went.
Being in Park City, I knew this would be a beautiful race, but even I was surprised at just how beautiful it was.
The first few miles were lots of fun as I ran with my fellow Utah Maniacs Bob, Earl, Franz and our new friend Stacia. The boys eventually were a little too speedy for me, but I was really happy to still have Stacia with me. One on my biggest fears is being on the trail alone and falling or running into a wild animal with nobody around to help me.
Runners on the trail.
Amazing scenery on this race.
Stacia and I plugged away and were making pretty good time until we hit Iron Mountain. It was steep and there was no tree cover at all. It was so hot going up that mountain that I started to feel dizzy. I knew there was no way we could stop and rest. According to the race instructions we had to be at the fourth aid station at mile 16 in four hours. If you didn't make it, they would take your bib and your race would be done. That would mean no jacket for me. Now in a regular road marathon that would be a piece of cake, but as we kept going, we found out quick that that was a tight cut off.
As we got closer to mile 16, we knew it was going was going to be close and every hill we had to hike up closed that gap a little more. I went from being very comfortable about making the cut off to very nervous about getting pulled from the course!
When we hit mile 16 we were right at four hours. We saw a medical person and a young volunteer, but no aid station. When I asked the volunteer where the aid station was his response was "three miles up". I told him that I was in no mood for jokes as our race depended on us getting to that aid station. He assured me he wasn't joking, the the reality was, he didn't know.
As mile 16, turned into 16.5 and there was no aid station, Stacia and I started thinking of what we were going to say to convince the folks at the aid station to let us continue. At mile 17 we saw the aid station. We were so exhausted and stressed, but when we came in, the aid station workers cheered for us and let us know that we made it in plenty of time. They said that they moved the cut off to 4 1/2 hours at mile 17! It would have been nice to know that in advance.
Poor Bob said that he sprinted ahead, using everything he had to get there to warn the aid station that Earl and Franz were close behind so they wouldn't get pulled. It was literally nerve racking. Thank goodness we were all able to get there on time. The next obstacle was to get to the finish line by 3:00pm.
At this point were so exhausted. Then we caught Teresa's good friend Katie. I had met Katie a few times so was really glad to see her. Stacia, Katie and I stuck together. We told stories of our families, marriages, divorces, etc. Then we caught our fellow Maniac, Cindy. Now there were four of us banding together to finish this thing!! The miles while tough seemed to go by a lot faster as we all banded together. I am not sure how any of us would have done all alone those last six miles, but I know I was lifted by having these great ladies with me.
One mile from the finish, we could see the finish line at the bottom of the mountain. We knew we would make it! As we approached the finish line, the four of us joined hands and crossed the finish line together. This finish was a group effort!
The power of friendship on the trail! I was so lucky to run and finish with these great ladies! Katie, Me, Stacia and Cindy approaching the finish line. (Photo by Teresa Baker)
It was so great to see Teresa cheering at the finish! First thing she said was "Go get your jacket!" I went over, picked up the jacket that I had worked so hard to get. I felt great to finally hold it in my hands. I was so excited to get the jacket, I almost forgot to get my medal!
My jacket and I!
I was also glad to see my friend Laura and her CUTE little daughter Violet at the finish to cheer for me. I felt bad that it took me so long. I was really nice for her to come!
Laura and Violet
I could not wait to get my shoes off and sit in the grass and celebrate with the rest of my friends! Teresa had bought a bottle of champagne (and a Diet Coke for me). We were all pretty excited!
Stacia, Katie and I (Cindy had left already).
Bob, Galen, Earl and Sue with their Jackets!
Bob, Franz and I at the finish!
Sue and Kim with their jackets!
The shirt and medal.
Close up of the bling!
I am so excited to have completed this race. It was the toughest marathon I have ever done, but it was one of the most beautiful too. It humbled even the fastest road marathoners. I think I will stick with Nebo next year and cheer for those who go for the Triple Trail Challenge next year.
HUGE THANKS to Teresa and Bob for their AMAZING hospitality!! I love you guys!