On May 5th I ran my second marathon (3rd if you count Ironman, but I don't and that's another conversation). I almost dropped to the half but I am happy with my choice to run the full. It hurt and I had some GI issues but I had fun and didn't have to pay $20 to switch. So besides MY personal experience that you can read about, here are my thoughts on how this race is run.
You must pick up your packet on Friday or Saturday before the Sunday race, this is a little bit of an inconvenience for Cory and I as it's over an hour drive from Denver. We didn't want to make the trip twice. We opted to stay in a hotel the night before but didn't think about this logistical issue until the week before and ended up in a slightly seedy hotel (I brought my own pillow and blanket). The expo is easy to get into and navigate but also very small with basically no swag other than your race shirt. The shirt this year is very nice, much better than two years ago with women's cut available.
Race morning you must meet down town between 4:00 and 4:30 am to catch tour busses to the race start. The race is point to point, basically they drive you 26 miles up the mountain canyon and you run out. We caught a fairly early bus because I am type A like that. The ride was comfortable and there was a bathroom which was nice for a runner on an hour long bus ride. It is a little surreal to ride what you will have to turn around and run out it makes the distance very real. The bus was full of nervous chatter but I was feeling fairly at ease since I had put no pressure on myself to do anything more than just finish. When we got to the top it was dark and we had over an hour before the race start, good news was that the bathroom lines were short, bad news is we froze!
Even with sweats it was cold and I didn't want to sit and lose more heat so I stood freezing for 90 minutes, not the best start to marathon. If I did it again I would catch a later bus. Another issue at the start was not enough bathrooms. The lines were ridiculous!
the start couldn't come fast enough I was ready to run and warm up!
Aside from some of my complaints the course is breathtaking. It is awesome to run down the canyon with the sunrise and the river flowing next to you!
The first half of the race is so scenic that the miles just click by. One mistake I made was not hydrating correctly. I was at the back of the bus when the volunteer gave us updates, both Cory and I heard that there was aid stations about every mile. Looking back at the race site it actually says every other mile so we must have miss heard and it was more like every 2.5 miles so I didn't always take a gel at the right time that led to some GI distress later.
About mile 16 you make it out onto the plains and run along a busy road, this is my least favorite part of the run but it is still nice.
One thing to note is that the canyon road is closed to traffic which is great for safety but if you want a lot of crowd support, you're not getting it at this race. You probably won't see your family until mile 18 of the marathon. If you like having cheering fans and seeing your family multiple times, this race is not for you.
After my stomach started to bother me I was really ready to be done but seeing my parents and their dogs after 21 and a half miles really lifted my spirits. I told myself at the beginning that if I was really hurting or on the verge of injury I would pull out when I saw them. I wasn't feeling great but I really wanted to finish so I trudged on.
The rest of the course is along a bike path, nice and flat until you turn into old town and run up the road to the finish line.
I was so happy to see the 26 mile flag. While I enjoyed most of the run, the post race was a little lacking. There wasn't a party feel, and the food was oatmeal. It was Cinco de Mayo and they were serving Oatmeal! Others may have liked it but I wanted guacamole and a margarita! On the bright side the medal was cool.
After the race we refueled like a boss with lots of mexican food! Thanks mom and dad for all the support!