So, there is not much more I can say about the Big Cottonwood Marathon that you haven't read in my last five race reports. Yep, this way my 6th year running so my legacy status remains intact and like every other year I run, I freaking LOVE this race!!
Every year I put together a Marathon Maniacs and Half Fanatics team and try to be a good hostess and set up a dinner, an after party and some other activity for out of town folks to enjoy. Utah is a beautiful place. Not a place to zip in and out of if you have the time.
I took Friday off work so I could fulfill my Revel Ambassador duties and work at the expo. Fellow Ambassador Maria Crawford and fellow Maniac Ed Childress were crashing in my little one bedroom apartment, so before I went to the expo, I picked Maria up at the airport and we met Randy Brinkley (the Half Fanatic Ambassador from Oklahoma City) for lunch. There we saw a a few other Maniacs!
Randy, Marlon and his friend, Maria and I in front of Easy Rider!
After lunch, we hit the expo giving out shirts to all the runners!
Manning our post!
One thing I love about volunteering, is that I get to see my friends when they pick up their packets!
It was great to see my Nebo pacing buddy, Heather again! My sweet friend Jenn hurt her foot and was in a boot! No running for her. 😢
Jorge and the Skinner's at the RYR pacer booth!
After the expo, we had a smaller than usual dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory downtown. The food was good and reasonably priced.
At the pre-race dinner!
Revel gives every team over 12 people a 10 X 10 tent space at the finish. You have to bring your own tent though and cannot set it up until after 8:00PM, so after dinner I enlisted my friend Rob, Ed and Maria to help set up the tent as there would be no time to set it up in the morning.
I was sure glad to have their help as there was no way I could have set it up alone. I though our tent came with weights to weigh it down, but it didn't and it was a little breezy. Rob gathered some big rocks and put them in the weight bags and it seemed to work fine.
Our Maniac/Fanatic tent ready for race day!
By the time we got home, it was getting late and we had an early wake up call. Rob went home and met us in the morning at 3:30AM!
Flat Angie sporting her legacy bib and ready to run!
Once we got to the start, we tried to stay warm, hit the bathrooms and before you knew it, we were off!
Marathon Maniacs at the start!
Always great to see Dave and Cade!
Two of my favorite local Maniacs John Bozung and Galen Garrison. Between the three of us, we have run somewhere close to 800 marathons! This was #126 for me and I ran the least in this group! (Photo credit: John Bozung)
So excited to see these cuties Meridith and Remi!
Now, let's talk about the course. People flock to this race for an easy BQ or PR. I have never run the half, but looking at the course, it is entirely possible to run a PR on the half course, but I would like to talk to you about the full marathon, where if you don't run smart, this course will eat you up and spit you out.!
Big Cottonwood elevation chart.
People underestimate the marathon course here. There are a couple of factors that people either don't know about, they know about them, but ignore them, or they know about them and don't think it will be a problem on the course and running smart only 3 of the 6 times, I pretty much know what I am talking about. Yes, this course is fast, but here are some things to keep in mind when you run this race:
1) The marathon starts at Guardsman Pass. Guardsman Pass is at almost 10,000 feet above sea level. If you are a sea level dweller, you may have some issues with running at such a high altitude. Dizziness and nausea are among the main complaints.
Heading down Guardsman Pass.
2) There is lots of downhill. Now this is why most people run this race. You always run faster downhill than up and when it comes to getting a BQ or a PR, gravity is your friend. Well, that is if you are experienced in running a lot of downhill, but running 19 miles of downhill can SHRED your legs, especially if you have not trained for running this much of downhill. After about 10-12 miles, my legs start getting wobbly!
3) Running downhill makes you go fast! Why is this a problem? It's not, if you are an experienced downhill runner with a lot of downhill miles under your belt. People tend to fly down the canyon way faster than their goal marathon pace. It feels great, but believe me when I say, you go out too fast down the canyon, you will pay for it later.
Trying to run this race smart, I stayed with the 4:25 pacers (fellow Maniacs Matt and Christine). The pace felt slow (even when we were a little ahead), but I held back (and took selfies).
I see moose on the course every year! This year I saw two! 😲
Having a blast down the canyon! (Photo credit: Seth Kramer)
The Big Cottonwood Marathons is one of the most beautiful marathons around. I must have 20 pictures of this mountain. Even in training runs I stop to take a photo when I come around the bend to face this big, beautiful mountain. (You can see how huge it is when you compare it to the runners below.)
4) Wasatch Blvd. (aka The Boulevard of Broken Dreams). If you went out too fast down the canyon, here is where your dreams of that BQ or PR can be shattered. After 19 miles of down hill , your legs are trashed and you hit Wasatch Blvd, a 2 mile out and back climb that looks like nothing if you were to run it on it's own, but with no more shade of the canyon and trashed legs, this is the hardest section of the course. There is a lot of walking and this year in particular, a lot of puking.
Running the canyon smart meant I still had legs to run Wasatch Blvd!
You are probably at this point asking yourself why I love this race so much? Simple. IF you watch your pace and DON'T run too fast down the canyon, you WILL have legs left to actually run Wasatch Blvd and you can keep that PR and BQ in your hands! Running down hill is fun, but there is a strategy in doing it. This is something almost every runner walking on Wasatch Blvd forgot. This is a super fast course, but only if you run it smart.
Revel races also have great swag (we got socks this year), beautiful shirts and medals, free photos (not just 1 or 2. I had 25), super well organized and ALWAYS a beautiful course!
With the Yeti 100 coming up, my goal was to come out feeling good. It has been a rough year for me, so finishing this race with my fastest time of 2017 was just what I needed to get that fire burning for Boston 2019!
So proud of my friend Rob! I suckered him into running with me and on his 4th Marathon he got an almost 15 minute PR in the half!! Well done mate! 👍
After the race we chilled out at our tent and hung out with friends!
Josher and I ALWAYS need a selfie together! In fact, we were both taking one at the same time here! LOL!
Fellow Ambassador Nikki rocked the half this year! She already earned her BQ!
A few Maniacs and Fanatics at the tent!
After a nice shower and a nap, we met up at the Beerhive Pub downtown for burgers and beer!
A great way to celebrate after the race. Friends, burgers and beer! 🍔🍻
I LOVE the Big Cottonwood Marathon and Half! Our team for next year is already open! The team is open to club members and club members in training! We would love to have YOU on the team next year!!
Register early for the best discount HERE! Want to save even more money on a Revel race? MM/HF Team members are getting the scoop on a great opportunity. PM me for more details.