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Monday, July 31, 2017

#123- The Deseret News Marathon

Pioneer Day is a state holiday in Utah. It is celebrated on July 24 each year to commemorate the entry of Brigham Young and the first group of Mormon pioneers into Utah’s Salt Lake Valley in 1847, so as you can imagine it's kind of a big deal here. 

The Deseret News Marathon has been run every year since 1970 and is the oldest road race in Utah. It is always run on Pioneer Day so most years it falls on a weekday and since I don't like to take a vacation day for a local race, I have not run the race in 7 years. Since I have the Yeti 100 coming up in September, I figured I could use the miles and since I got a free bib for working an aid station last year, it was time to give it another go!

The race starts at 5:30AM. That means the buses leave at like 3:30AM. Man that is hard, but if you know July in Utah, you know that it gets HOT here and you want to beat the heat as much as you can. Those last miles are scorchers

Ran into my pal John Bozung on the bus!

When we got up to the start, the temperature was mild. Not as cold as I thought (which worried me for what was to come). We gathered for a quick Maniac picture, hit the port-a-potty and the race started while it was still dark!

Maniac group photo!

The race started in the dark!

Starting at the top of Big Mountain, the first few miles are fast on this course. It is easy to go out too fast. I used a strategy that I know doesn't work, but just wanted to get out of the canyon before it got too hot.

Deseret News Marathon Course Map

You feel like you are flying until you get to mile 7. That is where you have this long climb for about 3 miles until you hit Emigration Canyon. I wanted to save my legs, so I ran-walked this stretch. Once I hit mile 9 or 10, I was flying again.

The scenery on this course is beautiful! 


Around mile 7 you start the long climb!

I took advantage of the walk breaks and took some photos of the scenery!

Now remember when I said I was using a strategy that didn't work? Well even with 2 bathroom stops and run-walking the hills for 3-4 miles, I still hit the half at just under 1:50! That would have been fine if I was stopping at the half and not getting ready to run into what felt like an oven once we left the canyon at mile 15.5!

So great to see my friend Christy working the aid station as we came out of the canyon!

Now, when I got to the aid station just before mile 16, I was still feeling pretty good. We had a lot of cloud cover, so the sun was not beating on us and it was still pretty early. It was so humid though. By the time I hit mile 17, I was overheating. I stopped at the mile 17 aid station and sat in a chair for a minute just to get cooled off. 

When I got out of the chair, I ran about a half mile when (no matter how much I slowed down) my heart rate was out of control and I was really dizzy. I stopped on some grass under a tree and laid in the shade until I could cool off and get my heart rate down. I felt like I was DONE!

Laying there in the grass, I looked down at my Canadian Marathon Maniacs shirt and thought about my friend Robert Merriman, who just last week had surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from his brain. He is a crazy Canadian, so I wore that shirt to honor him. I know that he would much rather be having a hard day on the road, than laying in a hospital bed fighting for his life. No matter how crappy I felt, I at the very least could run, walk or both to that finish line- and that I did.

We ran past the 2002 Olympic Stadium (see the torch?)It is now home to the University of Utah football team!

I was still feeling horrible, so my new strategy was to run 5 pylons and walk 2. I did this for next 6 miles. It was so hot and I started feeling dehydrated. At mile 23, the LDS missionaries were running an aid station. I grabbed some water and drank some and poured some over my head. 

There is one cool part of the marathon. Just before mile after mile 25, you turn the corner and for one block you are running ON the parade route! There are hundreds of people cheering for you as you run alongside the parade floats. If there is one time you suck it up and run strong, it's on that block!

Now the map shows there is supposed to be an aid station at mile 25, but I didn't see water again until about mile 25.5 (that's 2.5 miles in the heat at the end of the race with no water)! I was DYING at that point and was glad to see them, but at that point we were a couple of block from the finish!

I was on track for a sub 4:00 at the half, but ended up with a sub 5:00 at the finish! I did not run smart, but I got it done!



Running to the finish!

Great to see some Maniac friends! These crazy guys ran 3 marathons this weekend!

After the race I headed straight back to the car and headed straight to work (don't worry, I showered in the gym at work! LOL!)

Back in the office after the Marathon!

Here are some good things about the Deseret Marathon:
1) Early start. Getting done early makes it worth getting up early.
2) Beautiful course (for the first 16 miles).
3) Of course all the volunteers!

Things that will keep me from ever doing this race again:
1) Hot water at the aid stations. When you know it will be 90+ degrees, supply the aid stations with ice to put in the water jugs so runners are not drinking hot water! Grrrrr!
2) Lack of aid stations the last 6 miles. Deseret Marathon- You have been doing this race long enough to know how hot it is. AID STATIONS EVERY MILE FROM 20-26! I don't want to carry a water vest on a road marathon. Also, make sure what aid there is, is in the proper location according to your course map! Grrrrr!
3) Foothill Drive- I just lost all will to live running up Foothill Drive.
4) How about closing 400 S. so we don't have to dodge cars as they drive right behind us and in front of us! Grrr!

Most of these things I could brush off, but when it is so hot, these things can become safety issues for runners. I think next year instead of volunteering at the race, I will set up somewhere to make sure runners have cold water. I might even grab a couple bags of ice for those aid stations from mile 16 on. If the race won't do it, we as runners could help out! 

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