A Long Shot Around The Globe

Last month, blogger, author, budget travel expert, and online sales guru Nomadic Matt had an amazing contest. He released the third edition of his best selling book “How To Travel The World On $50 A Day” and offered an opportunity to anyone who bought the new book – the chance to travel for a year, receive $50 a day and guidance from him, and have your Round The World Trip come true.  You just needed to write an 500 word essay (and some other minor legalities). Amazing marketing!

I did not win.  I started to get my hopes up when we heard he was reviewing the final top twenty essays.  The idea behind my essay is actually part of my 3-5 year plan, but winning this contest would have sped up the process. I knew this was a long shot. I just felt my chances were a little better than most. I’m sure when I see the essay from a theoretical cancer survivor traveling around the world taking amazing pictures and sending them back to kids dying in the hospital that I will be really impressed and not bitter about losing. At all.

This was actually a great exercise for me. As if I don’t get enough introspection, after I wrote this, I started to question my current trajectory.  If I am so passionate about this idea, what am I doing in Poland wasting time? I really felt lost for a week or so (this happened to coincide with some issues I’ve had here in Warsaw) and not a little discouraged. In the end,  I can be passionate about this project, and still work on other things that enrich my life in many ways. I have gotten a lot accomplished in two months and sometimes I don’t give myself enough credit for that. The new friends and community I find forming around me here in this city at this time makes me feel like I am on the right path and I will explore the larger plan when I am ready to fly.

Here is the essay in full.  Enjoy.

50 Marathons Routes

50 States

50 Weeks

Wait a second. I already did that in 2016. It was an amazing journey filled with deep personal insights. It removed many of the boundaries I had placed around my world – mentally, physically, geographically, economically. I could do it again, but this time better. With the help of Nomadic Matt I could go bigger!

Putting together my original plan I was a lone wolf. At the time, I didn’t even believe in myself, so I didn’t share my plans with anybody and if I did, I certainly didn’t share any details, because people would have locked me up. Now I would have the vast knowledge and resources of the foremost budget expert in the travel community. I have a proven track record so I could garner more sponsors. I am associated with amazing friends, runners, and organizations and they could open doors for me world wide.

50 Marathons

50 Countries

50 Weeks

Wait a second. That seems exceptionally self indulgent, punishingly repetitive, and particularly derivative. No offense to the Star Wars franchise, but there is a lack of creativity in blowing up successively larger and more powerful Death Stars. It’s not enough to just go bigger. I need to go deeper. If there is one thing that I’ve learned is that I am happiest when I am making an impact. My strongest friends and supporters are people who love what I am doing and are incorporating a piece of that into their lives.

The long term plan I designed while on the road is an international race series of Marathons and Half Marathons. I have seen the impact that distance races have on people’s psyche. People who currently have problems walking around the block strengthen their will and resilience when training for marathons and the completion of these Herculean tasks gives them the knowledge they can do anything. During the run, the people they meet from all walks of life inspire, support, and maintain focus on their larger goal. When you add the element of travel, people get fresh perspectives and new ideas. Also to make this ultimately successful, I want the races to be free. After experiencing the success of the free marathon in Millinocket, Maine and seeing the impact that race has on the town as well as the runners, I think the model has merit. When I combine that with the concept behind ParkRun, a nonprofit that organizes free timed 5Ks in 16 different countries, I think there is blueprint for success, not just for a year, but for a lifetime and beyond.

So finally, what a round the world trip would provide is

50 International Marathons and Half Marathons

50,000 + People Impacted

50 Weeks To Begin A Worldwide Phenomenon

I look forward to working with you and bringing this dream to fruition faster than I originally imagined.

Derek Zardus

GloboRun.com

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Marathon Missteps – Recalculating…

“Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.” – Vince Lombardi 

“All I do is win, win, win, no matter what” – D-J Khalid

“What do you do when things go sideways?” I remember being asked this question last year, around this time, by a lovely young lady running her first marathon and gritting her teeth from the pain of a twisted ankle. I was shuffling along beside her with somewhat muted pain from the beginning pangs of a kidney stone. My answer at the time, was suck it up, readjust, do what you need to do to move forward without doing damage.  I had hoped for a PR that day. Instead, I struggled just to make a mediocre performance.  I found myself asking this same question last week during the Skopje Marathon when things were not going my way.   I realized, the answer was not so simple and some days it takes a roundabout route to get where we need to go. This year, I have not been having as much success with the marathon and I need to do some real reassessment. 

Quite frankly, I hate talking about failure. Part of me believes we don’t truly fail until we’re dead, but the fact of the matter is that I have a ton of failures on my resume and talking about one seems to dredge up whiffs of former crapfests. Most of the time I am able to muddle through and keep moving forward and friends always seem amazed at how I do that. I thought I would try to break this down as best I could. To synopsize, I will utilize my recent experience in Macedonia with the 5 Stages of Dealing with Death as laid out by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. I have found that those 5 stages seem to cover the gambit of emotions and recovery. 


Stage 1 – Denial 

The day started much nicer than expected. The forecast had said rain but the sun was bright and powerful as I headed out the door for the start line. I decided to walk the 3 kilometers to the start line to limber up and stretch the legs. I could have taken a taxi, they were dirt cheap in Skopj (I would have gotten change back from a Euro on that fare). Even then things weren’t quite right. Although it was mostly downhill to the start line, there were some occasional hills and stairs when my knees took turns aching. It was also then I noticed that despite the lack of clouds, it was extremely humid even though it was still early in the morning. I’d dismissed these early warning signs. The whole reason I’d walked was to iron out such little kinks. The race would be better.  
At the start line, I couldn’t find running friends from Serbia or Macedonia I had made while running the previous week in Dubrovnik, but I made some new acquaintances at the start line, a Norwegian and a young man teaching English in Macedonia from Beloit, Wisconsin. He couldn’t believe I had been to his home town. I lined up at the start and expected to take off. Except I didn’t. 

I’m never a huge fan of the first three miles of a marathon, but I do usually have a lot of energy. Most days I need to hold myself back. Not this day. From the start line by the Alexander the Great statue, over the first beautiful bridge, buy all the fancy new government buildings, over the budge of lions, I was straining to move my legs. There was a part of me that began questioning if I was above a certain altitude (I wasn’t). I just convinced myself it was a little boredom at the beginning of the race and that my legs would continue to warm to the task. I was definitely in denial. 


Stage 2 – Anger

In the stages of death, anger usually manifests outwardly. For me and failure, it seems to attack internally. I get angry at myself. Why did I sign up for the marathon? I only ran twice this week. I should have trained a little more, done a little more speed work. Why must I push myself to do these races one after another? To a certain extent, I hope that the anger might carry me a little further along. I’ve run on anger before and it feels powerful and strong and vicious and comes with its own spikes in adrenaline and pheromones. Unfortunately anger is like a white sugar spike, good for a quick hit but poor for sustaining a continued power source. By its nature, anger at oneself is self defeating. At a certain point you are going to hear what you are saying to yourself and feel resentful (like anger but not nearly as powerful) or depressed, another stage that really isn’t helpful at this point. Unfortunately, I am still only around mile 5 or 6. For me, the anger quite naturally leads to…


Stage 3 – Bargaining

Quite frankly, sometimes this works. A good bargain, a little slight of hand, some smoke and mirrors, all of a sudden, you’re distracted long enough they somehow sneak an elephant on the stage. It worked for me in Milan. Unfortunately, this starts way too early in Skopje. I feel a little bit better on the first out and back in the city. I always get a little inspiration from the people in front of me and it picks up my spirits to cheer for those who are behind me. So with this infusion of energy, I start investing in some heavy duty bargaining. Another mile and I get my runners high and I’ll feel alright, I just need to find and angel and run with them for a little while, get back in stride, if I fall back on my training, start nailing my intervals, my body will just fall in line with old habits. It could have worked. But unfortunately, each little ploy had it’s tell. I couldn’t seem to consistently run with anybody. The runner’s high really never came (it did, but too little, too late).  Even intervals failed me, as even my shortest interval seemed to last forever. As each of these games came to an end, I would get little hits of frustration and anger, but when I felt the tip of my injured toe rip again and start feeling the sticky slick feel of blood in my shoe, I moved it the next category. 

Stage 4 – Fear
What if I’m doing real damage to my foot? What if it keeps me from running? What kind of example am I setting to my friends?  There are guys out here who are running without a foot and I can’t handle a cut on my toe?!? I’m such a loser! Ok, fear seems to lead to a little depression and I’m usually well protected from wallowing in this too much mentally, but my body has a mind of its own. I start to slow down. My feet lose their bounce. It seems like forever to make that slightest forward movement. Between, miles 7-9, I start running for a little while with a young American who is over in Macedonia with the Peace Corp. it’s his first long distance race. He is carrying his broken race bag on his back, because there was no bag drop off at this marathon. He looks a little ragged around the edges but he’s got that awesome look of someone who just now is realizing he is even stronger than he thought. He perked me up a little bit and I dodged a little bit back into bargaining territory (I can keep up with this kid. I can finish the race) but of course his major was psychology and so my defeatist attitude was leaking out of my cautiously constructed Trojan Horse, and he called me on my shit. Yeah, well, back into the depression, because of course, he’s twenty two so he gets his second wind, and I start bouncing through these three middle stages like a pinball at the top of the machine. 

Stage 5 – Acceptance

At a certain point, time passing make the acceptance a little easier. The race has a 5:30 time limit and no matter how you slice the minutes, there comes a time to recognize that if you are not hitting specific time marks, you are not finishing in that time frame. A constant training phase that I have heard from the best of the best is that of you are not winning, you are learning. In its own way, that’s is a win, right? It still sucks, but mentally you are a little stronger and a little more wise. I could have finished the marathon, but I had nothing to prove that day to myself or anyone else. I have races to run in the next couple weeks and beating myself up mentally or physically will not help me meet my goals in those races. The goal is lifetime beautiful running and there were a few beautiful moments on the course that day. I did get a couple weak runner highs late in the game.  I spent the last three miles singing through the pain and not only did I get cheers from the local spectators,  I had a young gentleman slow down just to tell me how much he appreciated my positive energy and my singing, that it had helped him get over his hump and finish strong (he then took off). This is really how I love to run, so of course that’s a win. I had the pleasure of talking to another member of the Peace Corp who was dealing with a bad knee and watching her give her all in that last mile was pretty inspiring. As I came down the final stretch of the race towards the finish line through the little Macedonian L’Arch De Triumph, I saw some of my Serbian friends from the race in Dubrovnik cheering me on. As the sky opened up and started to rain, I had no problem making the choice to finish the race at the half marathon point. I got to see the city of Skopje on my feet, I had made some new friends, and I had kept moving forward towards that goal of lifetime running. Onward and upward. 

What are your thoughts? Is this just training plan for failure or healthy acceptance of the cards as dealt that day? I want to know your real thoughts. 

Du Motion Runners’ Days – Dubrovnik, Croatia

What do you look for in a running vacation? Great weather to run an optimal race? A beatiful course full of inspiring scenery and potentially epic photos? Great tour opportunities when you aren’t running or training? Helpful staff and volunteers trying to make this your best race of the year? The Dubrovnik Half Marathon, one of the races of the Du Motion Runners’ Days has all this and more.  


The hospitality began at the expo, where tons of volunteers made themselves available to answer questions, pour you a welcome espresso or beer, take your photograph for social media or show you some of the cool race swag you could buy, like specially designed local running flats with an outline of the old city. The Expo was small but thospitality was large, with each of the 3 or 4 vendors eager to not only sell you their wares, but also share their city with you with local tips and favorite places.


The best race swag I have ever received at any race is the Du Motion Runner’s Badge. This gives you 

  • Free entrance to the City Walls ($20 Value)
  • Free Access to Public Transportation
  • Free Entrance to Dubrovnik Museums
  • Partner Discounts

Essentially, if you are coming to run their race, Dubrovnik rolls out the red carpet and gives you the essentials to explore and enjoy their city. All for the same price you would pay to run the race. Other race directors take note – this is the new gold standard in Race/Tourism. Throw the Gauntlet down to your local tourist board. 


Of course, as soon as I got the badge I went and walked the walls. The walls are just shy of 2 kilometers of stairs, uneven stones, steep stair cases and epically medevial views of one of the most romantic cities in the world. One of the Highlights of the weekend is the Race The Wall event. The race is capped at 100 runners and the wall and main street become a 2.5 kilometer crazy race track. I volunteered at the race and it was pouring rain. I struggled on the wall just walking it, I can’t imagine running it, in the rain, trying to place a competitive time, but it certainly was thrilling. 

If you arrive early, there are plenty of things to do. The museums are amazing with phenomenal history pieces and artwork through the centuries. You can do some hill training on any street in the city, but challenge yourself to run to the top of the mountain Srđ. There is a great zig zag trail to get the top and it’s one of the best views of the city. Lokrum Island is also another must. There is a monastery and a small salt lake where you are as buoyant as the Dead Sea. With terrific trails for hiking or running and beautiful views of the Adriatic. 


Race morning felt cool for such a sunshiny day. Tons of participants and specatators flooded the Stradun, the main street old town Dubrovnik. It was a little confusing which direction the race was starting, with 5Kers and Half Marathoners muddling the start, but there was a contingent of international Race Directors volunteering at the event, so everybody was corralled pretty quickly after some initial confusion. Something I realized at this race was that I had not heard any marathon start the race with their national anthem since I had been in Europe. After the starting gun, we were off to a slightly slower start than normal for a couple reasons. 1. Tight quarters and the start of the race leads us into a narrower alley and arch, 2. Slight uphill canter 3. Slippery marble cobblestones underfoot. However, it is magical running that street and over the eastern gate and drawbridge to start the race. 


After that you turn the corner and the real work begins. The challenge of this out and back race course is the hill you climb and race down at the beginning will be waiting for you when you are good and tired at mile 11.5.  At the beginning, you have an extra half mile as you climb along the side of the city wall heading to the tower that is used as the Red Keep in the HBO “Game of Thrones” series. A small reprieve as you turn the corner and pass the local bus hub, but then you have 3/4 of mile to finish climbing up that hill. There are spectacular views of the ocean when you get to the top! You have about two hundred meters of flattop before you plunge down the other side to the main port of Dubrovnik. It’s very steep and fortunately my training for last year’s downhill races helped me pick up the pace without going crazy or hurting myself picking up and extra minute or two. The next four miles runs you under the modern and striking Franjo Tudjman Bridge along the harbor and to the other side of the ACI Marina Dubrovnik. I was a little concerned about the sun exposure during this part of the run, but the cliffs provided a nice bit of shade for all but the mile and a half approaching and leaving the turn around. One way back the sun hit hard once we entered the port area leading up to the final big hill. I spent some time trading on that hill earlier in the week so I knew it’s angle and where the rest spots were, but it is so much tougher after 11 miles! However once you get to the top, it all downhill to the finish line, with a triumphant return to the city through the eastern gate and right up the Stradun with runners and spectators roaring as you enter the final stretch (echoed and magnified by the great stone buildings). 

This was a great race for me. Beautiful and challenging, this was the first race I had run in Europe where all the volunteers at fueling stations were enthusiastic and energetic, young and old alike. There was also a good amount of cheering from runner towards runners on the out and back. The was a large group of 200 from the Belgrade Urban Running Team from Serbia, who were supportive both of their own team and other runners on the course – I know a bunch of them kept me strong and focused from mile 4 to mile 8, just in time for me to be inspired by some gals from the Southern United States who played a little leap frog with me. We started talking about that final hill and I said “You’re looking strong! Stick to your plan and I’m sure you kick some hill!” They all laughed because I thought they had a plan, and the sped off to conquer the hill and cheer me at the finish. This race also had two of my favorite things – free photos and a Race Director who takes the time to shake hands, high five, or hug every runner who crossed the finish line. I had met Alen Boskovik earlier in the week end as I was volunteering at expo and his enthusiasm and dedication shine through with every interaction between him and the runners and his staff. This is an amazing race that I would recommend to any runner headed to Europe. 

Vienna Marathon – Vienna, Austria


This is the starting line area the day after the race, when it was warmer and the skies were clear. The morning of the race was colder than most expected, with fridgid winds blowing across the Danube and occasional quick cloud bursts of drizzle keeping our skin covered in Goose bumps. I had layers but I expected the temperatures to rise 20+ degrees and at a certain point you have to hand over your race bag – thank Vienna Marathon for having the trucks so conveniently close to the start line!!! So then I stood around in my warm plain plastic trash bag for a half hour, jealous of the people who had branded colorful trash bags from Reebok and Gatorade. 

Standing in line to pee before the race was different. I really didn’t see as many portapotties as I’m used to, though there were some special Ironman branded flatbed facilities (I’m not sure if they were open to all or just people who have participated in IronMan events.) For the guys, there were blue plastic sheet barriers set up in the center of the two main race corrals to screen big pissing tubs, half which had dividers, the other half looking like the worst backyard kids pool you have ever seen. I would have though these free for all troughs would have kept the line moving, but it seems some guys get performance anxiety…I don’t know, it was a much longer wait that I expected for the size of the line. 


It’s been a while since I’ve run a race large enough to have corrals. That was an odd set up and I don’t think it was as effective as others I’ve been in, especially since it took over 40 minutes to get to the start line from the first gun. There were two lanes, each with 3 corrals 2,4,6 in one lane 1,3,5 in the others and the two lanes didn’t really merge until after the bridge and the first Kilometer but instead of just loosing the corrals as the road became free, there gave each set of corrals its own “Start” ceremony which seemed to take longer than it should have. 


Running over the Danube at the beginning of the race was certainly thrilling with some beautiful views to start off the race even with a stiff wind throwing us back. I tried to get runners to huddle together and rotate from the exterior of the group to the interior with limited success. Right after the bridge you are races through the historic streets of Vienna where no two window cornices are the same. 


As with many big city races, the half marathon runners were with us for the majority of the first 12 miles. Vienna was a little more friendly amongst the runners than Milan. I realize as I’m whooping it up in English, that it might be a little intimidating to runners unsure of their English. Certainly, the last thing I want to be doing when I’m running is thinking. I did have a couple Americans and Canadians run up and start talking to me. However one of my favorite things during a race occurred. I’m running a long focusing on my breathing, checking my stride, when all of a sudden behind my left ear I hear somebody say “Were you at the Milan Marathon?”  Thousands of runners and someone recognizes me!!! As I turn around I recognize the guy, his name is Ludo and he is from Milan, he was either a relay runner or supporting relay runner’s in Milan. He’s slightly taller than me, which always stands out, but he was one of the spectators who started to cheer when I was cheering for the relay runners! We ran together for about a kilometer, but he was a little faster so we started to play a little leap frog with my running and walking pace. A little bit later, I think I was singing some Frank Sinatra and somebody joined in on the chorus – another Italian, from Milan but working in Vienna. We talked for a while and when we caught up with Ludo I introduced them and I think they ran the rest of the half marathon together! I passed them right before the half marathon turn off where I was churning along trying to nail my half marathon time. Ciao Amici!!!


Volunteers were still an in interesting mix. They truly just don’t seem engaged here in Europe. Water was set out on the table (except the second water station, that was a mess) not really handed to runners and volunteers were kind of standing back, smoking cigarettes, and looking unimpressed. I tried thanking them in both English and German (which I know, can be questionable), but everybody seems to speak English, and most volunteers seemed confused that I was thanking them. The exception to this was the last 4 miles of the race. Here you saw enthusiasm, here people were cheering or clapping as you progressed. Most of the rest of the course was silent. It reminded me that 20 years ago when I was performing with an international cast in Germany and Holland, audiences were eerily subdued throughout the performance until the finale when they went absolutely berserk during the end and the encores. 


Two problems I had with the support tables – plastic cups and bananas. The cups with the water were a thin plastic that easily broke and then it became sharp. I cut my fingers two or three times. I’m also used to crumpling up the cup so it stays put, instead the winds blew the cups all over the place making clean up difficult. At least three or four of the water stops had bananas, which is great, but people were just throwing the banana peels in the street – a clown’s nightmare. There has to be a better way of doing this; it was seriously dangerous with slick trampled bananas all over the road. 

I really must also thank my host, Sabine. I had put a call out for help hosting on one of the Up With People cast boards and she had noted that I was going to be in a bunch of cities all around Vienna, but that it looked like I was purposefully snubbing her city. When I flippantly asked if she was going to host me, she was surprised but insisted on hosting me and was going to move heaven and hell to make sure I got into the marathon. Not only that, she joined me that last 2 miles of the race, cheering me on, stroking my ego, egging on the spectators and volunteers to cheer for me. I may not be allowed to post a photo but I can openly profess my love for you here on my blog. There is no chance the borg is reading my blog. 

Official chip time 5:58:51. Faster by almost 40 minutes over Milan. I am somewhat disappointed since I hit the half at 2:32:30 so that was a 3 1/2 hour second half. Miles 18-21 felt like molasses, but I picked up the pace and made the cutoff time with people behind me so I wasn’t dead last. I’ll take this as a win and head to a half marathon next week in Dubrovnik. 

Vienna – Not Eating Chocolate Cake In A Bag

Made a lightning trip to Vienna,

Eating choc’late cake in a bag.

– The Ballad of John and Yoko

I love this song. I love the bounce of the song, the simplicity of the instrumentation, the fact that the only Beatles playing all the instruments on the recording are John and Paul. The only place I had not been to in the song was Vienna. I imagined eating a lush Sacher Torte, the sticky jam and rich frosting getting on my fingers as I break off each piece out of a pristine white wax paper bag with the Emperor’s sigil emblazoned upon it, walking the streets of Vienna, maybe headed to the opera. 

Unfortunately, eating chocolate cake out of a bag is not a cultural norm in Vienna. Most bakeries do not even carry chocolate cake (although they have many other delicious treats). Sacher Tortes seem to be mostly sold in fancy gift boxes for tourists except at the swankiest of of restaurants where I was quoted 12€ and would have needed to stand in line for a half hour.  As it turns out, John is referencing “Bagism”, a concept he and Yoko presented to the world (in Vienna) as an ultimate form of communication, that by placing ourselves in a bag, we expect others to focus on our message instead of our race, religion, physical abilities or other outward indicators. 

Needless to say, this was somewhat disappointing to me. I expected multiple vendors in public markets to have “Choc’late Cake In A Bag” stands. I expected to be covered in a slight hint of chocolate and apricot jam scent all week long. Instead I surprisingly got snow, sleet, and hail. The Viennese were also surprised as they had springtime weather before I arrived. I was labeled a harbinger of doom and had to settle for baked goods with other fillings. 

From $0 to $60 – Frugal Marathons

 

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Remember when you got into running because it was a low cost sport? All you needed was a pair of sneakers and nowadays some people run with bare feet! I already have feet, so I should be all set! $200 for Running Shoes, $80 for a Fuel Belt, $60 Compression Socks, $90 Compression Pants, $20 head band, $50 Sunglasses, $100 Wicking Wind Breaker, $40 Phone Case, $300 Running Watch, $60 Tribe Shirt, Gels and Glide and Sunscreen and Race Fees makes a Marathon Medal and a Banana priceless! We could all use a break on some race fees right?

There are many ways to lower race fees.  Joining a race organization like The 50 States Club or Marathon Maniacs will get you 10 or 20% off at some races.  Knowing where you want to race, you can sign up for notifications of sales or contests. Many races have extra special sales on the first day of registration or on their actual race day for the following year. Black Friday and holiday sales occur in the race world too. You can also buy race series at a discount. There’s other ways to lower or eliminate a race fee which we’ll cover in another article.

It has been argued that the race fee is a small price to pay in your over race weekend trip. Especially if you are traveling, you have your lodging, gas, flight, parking, restaurants, tolls, and other costs that dwarf your regular $100+ race fee. I do not expect people to plan a huge trip on the merits of these low cost marathons because some of them are out of the way, so time and money will add up quickly. However, some of these races may be in your back yard.  Maybe your sister or college roommate lives in one of these towns.  This list is for reference as a quick check.  There’s currently 4 FREE races on this list. Another 7 of the marathons are under $35.

Many of these races came from an informal poll taken in some online forums. Thank you to everybody who contributed! I did take the time to look up and link all of the races listed here. Some of these prices may have already expired. Look at the dates of the lowest price and save it in your calendar. This list will be updated if you leave comments, however the list will be updated faster if you include a link that shows the price. Only races that are $60 and under will be listed (not including taxes and fees). We needed to draw the line somewhere. If you are suggesting races in the notes PLEASE DO NOT LIST ONE DAY OR HOLIDAY SALES OR DISCOUNTS FOR AMBASSADORS OR ORGANIZATIONS. Prices should be as they appear on the most recent registration schedule for the race.

We are still looking for low cost options for 13 states, highlighted in red: Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nevada, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Wyoming.

Alabama

Dizzy Fifties Trail Run 50k and 40&50 Miler – Huntsville, AL. $26 Early Entry

Alaska

King Salmon Marathon – Cordova, AK. $50 Marathon Early Entry

Arizona

SP Crater Marathon – Flagstaff, AZ. $35 Early Entry

Arizona Marathon – Glendale, AZ. $60 Early Entry

Arkansas

LoVit Trail Marathon – Mount Ida, AR. FREE!!!

Midsouth Marathon – Wynne, AR. $40

California

Charlie Alewine Racing – Long Beach, CA. $55 Multiple Races. 5th Race Free.

  • Colorado

Connecticut

Roxbury Marathon in Roxbury, CT.  $15

Oh Boy Marathon – Waterbury, CT. $50 Early Entry

  • Delaware

Florida

Florida Marathon – Melbourne, FL. $60 early entry

Georgia

Thrill in the Hills Trail Run – Winder, GA. $50 early entry

  • Hawaii

Idaho

Mesa Falls Marathon – Mesa Falls, ID. $60 Early Entry

Pocatello Marathon – Pocatello, ID. $60 Early Entry Special Rates first 3 days.

Illinois

Rockford Marathon-Rockford, IL. $50 ($25 for the first 200 entrants this year)

Indiana

Hayes Arboretum – Richmond, Indiana. $45 Early Entry.

Circular Logic Marathon – Lafayette, IN. $33 Early Entry

Veterans Marathon – Columbia City, IN. $50 Early Entry

Iowa

University of Okoboji Marathon – Arnolds Park, IA. $50

  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana

Maine

Millinocket Marathon & Half – Millinocket, ME. FREE!!!

Maryland

Seneca Greenway Creek Marathon & 50k  – Gaithersburg, MD. $35 Early Entry

George Washington Birthday Marathon – Greenbelt, MD. $50 Early Entry

Massachusetts

Cape Cod Trail Race – Falmouth, MA. $55 Early Entry

Michigan

First National Bank of Wakefield Marathon – Wakefield, MI. FREE!!!

Kal-Haven Trail Run 50K-Kalamazoo,MI. $50

Minnesota

Mankato Marathon –  Mankato, MN. $49 Early Entry

Run for the Lakes Marathon – Brainerd, MN. $55 Early Entry

Eugene Curnow Trail Marathon – Duluth, MN. $35 Early Entry

Mississippi

Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon – Gulfport, MS. $35 Early Entry

Missouri

Heart of America Marathon – Columbia, MO. $50

  • Montana

Nebraska

Nebraska State Fair Marathon – Grand Island, NE. $55

  • Nevada

New Hampshire

Ghost Train Trail Race (30,45,60,75, 90, 100 Miler) – Brookline, NH. $50

  • New Jersey

New Mexico

Sierra Vista Trail Runs 50K – Las Cruces, NM.$50 plus a used pair of shoes for donation.

Shiprock Marathon – Shiprock, NM. $50 Early Entry

New York

Presidential Inauguration International Marathon – East Meadow, NY. $25 Early Entry

Dick’s Greater Binghamton Marathon– Vestal, NY. $35 Early Entry

North Carolina

Tobacco Road Marathon – Cary, NC.$55 Early Entry

North Dakota

Harmon Lake Trail Festival -Bismarck, ND. $10 First 20 Entries. $50 Next 25. $60 Next 30.

Ohio

ORRRC Marathon – Xenia, OH. $35 Early Entry

  • Oklahoma

Oregon

Timberline Marathon – Timothy Lake, OR.$60 Early Entry

Pennsylvania

Naked Prussian Marathon and 50K – Leesport, PA. $35 Early Entry

Veteran’s Day Marathon – Indiana, PA.$26.20 Early Entry

Lt. J.C. Stone 50K – Pittsburgh, PA. $60 Early Entry

Rhode Island

Black Goose Marathon – Seekonk, MA. $45 Early Entry

South Carolina

Altamont Marathon – Travelers Rest, SC. $48 Early Entry

South Dakota

River Rat Marathon – Yankton, SD.$55 Early Entry

Brookings Marathon  – Brookings, SD.$55 Early Entry

Swan Lake Marathon – Viborg, SD. $55 Early Entry

  • Tennessee
  • Texas

Utah

Morgan Valley Marathon – Morgan, UT. $60 Early Entry

Logan View Marathon – Logan, UT. $55 Early Entry

  • Vermont

Virginia

Virginia Creeper Marathon – Abingdon, VA. $15

Washington

Green River Marathon – Kent, WA. FREE!!!

West Virginia

Barnum Rail Trail Marathon – Keyser, WV. $55 Early Entry. First 10 people take 50% off!

Wisconsin

Minocqua No Frills Marathon – Minocqua, WI. $45 Early Entry

  • Wyoming

 

 

Canada

Quebec
– “Marathon des Érables”, end of April, $57 (rural setting, maple taffee on snow on the course, approx. 30-40 minutes south-east of Montreal)
– “Marathon SSQ de Longueuil”, May, $46 (Montreal South Shore)
– “Marathon des pompiers de Laval”, June, $35 (Montreal North Shore)
– “Marathon de Rimouski”, early October, $38 (flat out-n-back along the St-Lawrence river, which is quite wide and beautiful up there, but 6h drive north of Montreal)
– “Marathon de Magog”, October, $50

 

 

Marathon Route #26: Run4Troops Marathon – Dubuque, IA

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The Black Flag – The last thing a slow runner, any runner, wants to see during a race. “Extreme and Dangerous Conditions”, the Black Flag usually also denotes the cessation of the race as it did at the 2016 Vermont City Marathon (though not at 2016 Grandma’s Marathon, held a week earlier). This year, the majority of Black Flags and those mentioned above have been flown for excessive heat. After 103 degree temperatures the week before when I unofficially ran the route of the Prairie Fire Marathon in Wichita, Kansas, I was not looking forward to running in such oppressive temperatures again. What would have been more frustrating would have been running for 4-6 hours only to be told that the race would not count due to cancellation. I brought these concerns to the Race Director of the Run4Troops Marathon in Dubuque, Iowa and she did not let me down.

Race Review

I want to start off by giving Race Director, Connie Hodge and her entire team a standing ovation for a job well done. She was at packet pickup the day before the race, enthusiastically greeting and conversing with runners and relay team captains and took the time to listen to my concerns about the heat and the possibility that the race could be cancelled. She reassured me that her team was already looking at additional ways of supporting the runners and ensuring a safe and enjoyable race. As a self proclaimed “military style” marathon, their website talks us about being prepared as runners since they would be providing limited support. However, her team went from 6 water stations noted on the course map to over 16 water stations on the trail. What an amazing show of support by local volunteers mustering to help. Not only was there additional water – it was COLD! Only at one of the water stations did I get “tepid” water. Many stations also had ice despite the heat. Truly, this was an amazing feat not really duplicated at other summer races I ran. This was also, by far, the best reception I have ever received from volunteers after crossing the the finish line. As a back of the pack runner, sometimes I consider it lucky at smaller races for somebody to even acknowledge my accomplishment. As soon as I crossed, multiple volunteers converged on me, removing my timing bracelet and placing a medal around my neck, placing ice bags on my head and neck, covering my shoulders with ice soaked towels, offering me cold water or electrolytes. I have never felt so appreciated and cared for as I did that day.

The course itself is a little on the boring side. You are essentially running a local trail from Dyersville to Dubuque in Iowa with exactly the sort of scenery you would expect to see – cornfields and forest. There are buses to get to the start line and from the finish line back to your car. You start at the Trailhead of the Heritage Trail in Dyersville.  You run along a paved road for a loop of a little over .75 of a mile before getting on the trail and heading down to Dubuque. After that you have a slight uphill climb for about 3 to 4 miles, this is also where you are most exposed to the sun as you run along lush corn fields. It is nice on a hot day to get those out of the way early in the day.Most of the rest of the race is set at a slight down hill where the only struggle appears at street crossings where the trail might sharply crest to meet the road and then drop back down to its previous level. There are some scenic little bridges that span the cricks and creeks and left over ruins from the days when the trains passed by with more local fare, but for the most part, this is a trail which invites introspection as you monitor your body and how it handles the heat of the day and the humidity that streams off of the trees. Although this is a trail, this is mostly like running on narrow, well packed, dirt road. Even when there is gravels, it is light, little stones that are comfortable to run on.

Lessons Learned

Earphones Block Out Sounds That Aren’t Only Dangerous to You:

About 8 miles in I came across a young lady who seemed to be really struggling.  What I first noticed was that her breathing was ragged and erratic, something I wouldn’t have noticed if I had had my earphones in. She was also weaving a bit and looked physically distressed, but otherwise looked kitted and physically prepared as a runner.  Turns out she had run the race twice before and approached the heat a little over confidently for the day’s heat.  She had a Camelback on but hadn’t really been drinking from it and hadn’t been taking advantage of the cold water at the rest stops.  I was glad that we started talking because when I started my walk cycle, she asked if she could join me.  I offered her cold water from my belt to pour on her head, and talked about fueling at the water stations. I’d like to think I saved her from a really bad afternoon after I heard her unspoken call for help.

Sweat Is The Same As Rain To My Shorts

I use BodyGlide for chaffing. I sweat throughout most races, but I feel like I have found the right balance for most races. On days like this, I sweat twice as much and I pour water on my head and neck to cool myself off. That liquid makes its way down to my shorts and washes away my lubrication.  I need to bring my own petroleum jelly on hot days like I do in the rain.  Even with support, I can’t count on even the medical stops to have lube – by the time I got to the medical tent they were out.  Another important tool in the utility belt.

Physical Review

Feeling pretty strong after trudging through two weeks of massive heat.  I had already taken the precaution of changing up my summer map by dodging north and south through the Midwest races, so I was looking forward to some cooler temperatures in Minnesota the next week.  The ice baths that I recently started doing were good for my muscles and joints and had the added benefit of cooling my system down and improving my circulation. My finishing time of 6:06:13 was only a little disappointing.  Once again, I felt strong in miles 20-24, but my pace didn’t match the positivity of my outlook. I was feeling my oats around mile 22 and passed a number of people slowing down at that point, but those final two miles were dense with a jungle like heat.  I feel like many of the lessons from the previous week got me through this course and I look forward to finishing such a race faster in the future.  Thanks again for following these posts, intrepid reader.  Next week I will writing about my greatest challenge of the year both mentally and physically.  I hope you’ll join me.  In the meantime, I always welcome your comments and questions.

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Marathon Route #25: Prairie Fire Marathon – Witchita, KS

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Halfway Done! Halfway Done! This run marked the halfway point for my entire quest – I wanted a tickertape parade, dancing in the streets, and fireboats shooting streams of water.  Seriously, I really wanted those fireboats on the river hitting me with full force fire hose spray – it was hot! Runners attempting the official Prairie Fire Marathon will do so almost four months down the road in the second week of October when average highs are around 72 degrees and lows are around 51 degrees.  By comparison, I stepped out of the house at 4:15 am and it was 86 degrees.  It was roughly around 94 degrees when I finished.  This was not including the humidity index which made the real feel around 102! Although I didn’t have anybody running the course with me, I did have a great deal of support from the folks at First Gear Running Company and the organizers of the Praire Fire Marathon.  On Saturday morning, I ran with a group heading out for their first training run for the marathon.  These amazing runners were kind enough to slow down so I could run with them and talk about my quest and they were full of tips about the course and the heat.  At the end of the group run, one of the volunteers with Praire Fire came over, asked me some questions, took my picture, and connected me with the organizers so I left with some amazing swag including a great beach towel and very fancy flame colored racing sleeves (which I will probably not wear until October, but they do look sweet). She also gave me her number for emergencies and her and her son checked in on me during my run to make sure I didn’t pass out, while they were going for their Sunday 10 mile long run. Overall, thanks to the gorgeous last third of this course and the hospitality I receive from this city, I’m really looking forward to officially running this race in the future.

Course Review:

This was one of the hottest days of the summer so I started at 4am. I truly hate starting to run so early. My body doesn’t really feel like it’s woken up. The first hour to two hours which are usually my best running times feel like I am running completely immersed in water. This feeling was exasperated by the high humidity. Leaving the house in the morning it was already 85 with a real feel of 92 degrees. It didn’t get as hot as it was supposed to but I can tell you 94 with a real feel of 101 degrees at 11 am is pretty tough stuff to slog through. I mention this because I didn’t really see the sun until mile 10.

If you have run this course before, there have been some subtle changes to the course. There is a new out and back  along Grove St. that allowed them to cut some chafe in one of the more industrial areas around mile 17. This also allows you more time along the river and in some of the pretier parks. This is one of the flattest courses I have runn all year, with only minor grades and isolatef hill areas. The beginning of the course starts you off with a beautiful view of downtown. You start at the newer WaterWalk area and cross back and forth over the Arkansas river on Lewis St. and then onto Douglas Ave. You run down the main thoroughfare of downtown, past all the high rises and under the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Train line. Around mile 4.5, you leave behind the main artery and start running through nice neighborhoods with the slightest of hills along College Hill Park and Cypress Park. The highlight for me of the first third of this course is along Hampton Rd. and Lakeside Blvd. The homes are nice in this area, but the park that’s been carved between these two streets with its bronze statues and cute little bridges spanning the water way is a great moment for a photo opportunity amidst some mundane neighborhoods.

The next five miles heading towards the halfway point are a bit of suburban khaki, somewhat blah and non descript as you run along outer city streets and neighborhoods, the highlight being a little trail area tucked in around mile 10-11. Surrounded by condos and cookie cutter houses, someone has taken the time and effort to carve out a little enchanting walkway connecting two neighborhoods with decorative trees and flowering shrubs. The mile around the half marathon mark feels a little strip mallish, but within a mile and a half, you are running along the nicely shaded beautiful neighborhoods of 2nd St. As you near the end of the second third of the marathon you get some glimpses of the beautiful brickwork of the revamped Old Town, where some amazing businesses are revitalizing older buildings. The last third of this course is where the scenic tourist views are, so if you have support during the race, you want to make sure they capture you going over one of the Little Arkansas or its big brother and running through one of these final parks. Riverside Park is gorgeous and a bit more accessible to some pretty views than later on by the Botanical Gardens. There are some large noteworthy sculptures by the art museum. The final 5K along the Arkansas River is very tranquil. I loved the sound of the river gently flowing along. One more time crossing over the first bridge and you cross the finish line.

Lessons Learned:

Heat Is Bad, Humidity Is Worse:

This is by far the hottest day I have ever run any distance, much less a marathon. I got some great tips from Marathon Maniacs. I froze the water in the containers on my belt and but two large frozen bars of water in my Camelback.I wore all white.I wore a large brimmed hat (but I need one with a brim all the way around). All the businesses were fine with me stopping in for refills. I did salt tablets. I carried a sweat towel and utilized it as cover for the back of my neck after soaking it in some cold water. There were some other great ideas that I will save for races with some more personal support. The heat itself was not insurmountable. What really drained me was the humidity. It had rained the night before and instead of helping, it just covered everything in water. When the sun did come out, it became a sauna. Especially after 9am, the sun was really beating down and as I was trying to stay in the shade, the trees would radiate dense steam clouds that just robbed the energy from my limbs. I do envy the runners attempting this race in the fall.

Do Not Use A Slushy To Cool Down:

Even with all the added preparation, my body was really beginning to overheat by mile 18 so I stopped at a gas station and got a Slushy to cool down from the inside out. Earlier in the year, a popsicle had really saved my overheated button in Tacoma. The Slushy had 2 downsides. 1. It had a ton more sugar than the popscicle, so although it did give me a boost, I came crashing down hard a couple miles later. The was also a lot more citric acid and it soured my stomach most of the last hour and a half. This was a suggestion from a supporter and I must say for me, it did not work.

 Physical Review:
  

After a week of intense healing on my feet from running in Revel Rockies, the blisters had healed enough for me the run in Wichita (I’d like to thank Epson salts and Gold Bond foot lotion for that). During the race, every injury I had sustained over the previous 6 months stopped by for a visit, but as I took in water and electrolytes most of the severe aches went away. The largest issue was the draining of energy from the humidity. It became a real challenge to keep going after mile 21 and I was was particularly awash in it around the Botanical Gardens.  Fortunately there was a little breeze along the river, so occasionally relief blew in and quickly blew out. This was my longest street run by far, clocking in at 7:12:02. This was also the first city I started with full ice baths for my lower torso and not only did it refresh my body from the crushing exhaustion, it also made walking the next day much easier than in te past. This will become a regular habit for me.

The heat of this course has helped me make some clear decisions for the summer. The day after this marathon, I rearranged my schedule so that I bounce up and down through the midwest, hopefully giving myself a break every other week or so by going north after a more southern and heated marathon route. It will mean a little more driving, but hopefully it will break up what looks like a dreadfully hot summer. Next week I continue in the center of the nation with an official race in Iowa – Run4Troops. Thank you for reading my journey and as always, I look forward to your comments and questions.

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Marathon Route #24: Revel Rockies – Denver, CO

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How do you feel when someone says “It’s all downhill from here!”? Are you elated, thinking about the wind blowing in your face as you effortlessly build momentum and speed or or are you dejected thinking about having just reached a peak and entropy starts to set in as things fall apart and strength begins to wither? An annoying phase that can be used either way and even more difficult to discern when most of your friends are fluent in Sarcasm. I can say this race was a bit of a mixed bag for me including elements of both; smooth, fast, downhill running and a degradation of current levels of strength. Also Revel Rockies is a stunningly gorgeous run!

The Revel Race Series sums up their races in two words – fast and beautiful.  The claim to speed comes from the fact that all of their races are downhill races.  They find a high scenic mountain and you run down it.  Course goals achieved!  This is definitely one of the most consistently beautiful courses I have run. As an organization, they have had some issues in the past with logistics which made me leery, but they seemed to all have been worked out and I had a great race experience. Parking was clear and plentiful, buses were well marked and ran on time, water stations were stocked and stationed by enthusiastic volunteers.  The expo was a little on the lackluster side but that just may be because I wasn’t interested in what the vendors were selling. Logistically, I only had two little problems.  Firstly, as a slow runner, as I was enjoying the finish line festivities I was disappointed to be told that the final buses back to the parking lot were leaving so quickly after I finished. The runner’s guide made it sound like buses would be transporting throughout the day and I would have appreciated a little more time. The buses were quite a ways from the finish line and could have been signed better.  Secondly, the drop bag area was quite far from the finish line and in the opposite direction of the transport busses. These were far out weighed by some of the little niceties that were arranged – excellent sports massages, frozen yogurt, icy cold towels when you crossed the finish line, a great bluegrass band playing in the park, and my favorite race perk – free photographs.  My only complaint is that with so many scenic opportunities, it would be great if they had one photographer stationed in a Runner’s World Rave Runs location.  By design, all the photos are taken with the runner filling up the photograph, but it would be nice to have just one where we are placed it the context of such monumental scenery.

Course Description:

Revel Rockies site talks a lot about the rigors of downhill running.  They offer many tips and corrections for common mistakes and also offer a full training program with an online coach for around $150.  I must admit that I didn’t have much opportunity to do sustained downhill training and I would recommend that for anyone attempting their races.  However, something that is not mentioned is the altitude you need to contend with.  Starting at 10,500 ft, Revel Rockies is the highest starting point in their current roster and even with a 4,700 ft Net Drop, you are still well above a mile high. Do not think that the downhill momentum will automatically balance out any issues you may have with altitude if you usually run at sea level or lower altitudes.

You are up early to catch the buses because they do not allow start line drop off at Echo Mountain due to the singularity of the beginning of the race course.  Once you get up that mountain, they close off the road to general traffic for your safety. You start mostly in darkness.  The sky is lightning, but even when it rises, you are more than likely still on the wrong side of the mountain. It is cold.  It gets warmer, but at 10,000 ft the temperature is about 20 degrees cooled than Denver.  Plenty of  people started off running in heavier disposable gear.  I just just had a pullover that I took off and put in my drop bag.  You warm up quickly once the race begins. Some of the most scenic views of the area are in those first couple miles, but it is tough to get a picture due to the variations in light (The background might be bright, but you are in shadow).  Around miles 3, 6, and 8 you have some of the more dramatic drops in altitude and a fairly even downhill run.  They also come right after short spurts of flattening road that seems like it is almost up hill after so much downward momentum. The curves on this part of the course are broader and for the most part, you have the entire road to navigate and ease your descent. Around mile 10, you start to break from the endless pine trees and get some wonderful valley views with a lake and grazing cattle and picturesque peaks encircling you. Between Miles 11 and 12 you enter the most lackluster part of the course, entering more of a commercial district on a double lane highway.  Still some nice views off to your left until you get to the half marathon mark.  At that point you start encountering two or three larger hills interspersed with a few rolling hills for about the next two miles before turning off on to smaller roads running through some nicer residential areas leading to Bear Creek.  Once you turn on Bear Creek Road, you will be overwhelmed by the phenomenal views, no matter how tired you are.  The gushing river even so late in the spring provides a constant feeling of movement as you continue downhill.  The curves are much tighter on this road and traffic was constant in the opposite lane heading up the mountain. The tighter curves mean that much of the road is beveled so my ankles got a real work out constantly running on an angle and my shoes were slipping in ways I was unused to, creating a multitude of blisters in ways I had not yet experienced.  The further down the canyon you run, the richer the colors get as more iron pervades the cliffs and you get more of the rusty hues that Red Rocks Amphitheater is known for.  Once you pass that landmark, you know you are on your home stretch and it is a fairly steep downhill to the finish line.

Lessons Learned:

Curvy Roads Are Rarely Flat

Around mile 12 I noticed that my shoes were loose and and needed to stop, tighten and retie them (not particularly fun to do after running 12 miles).  It didn’t occur to me that this was happening as my shoes were slipping from side to side as I ran on roads that were curved to accommodate tires, not my feet.  I started to feel the blisters around mile 18 and by mile 20 the pain from multiple blisters were a hindrance. I’ve looked up some better ways of lacing your shoes for these occasions and will be better prepared next time.

Utilize the Drop Bag Option

I feel like I really got it right using a drop bag.  Not only did I have breakfast on the way up the mountain, I had a couple clothing options when I got up there, and for the most part was able to run unencumbered. I also had some fresh clothes to change into after the race so I didn’t stink to high hell on the massage table. (it would have been better if the pick up was a little closer to the finish line – hint, hint).

Physical Review:

I was a little worse for wear after this race.  My feet were covered in blisters, many that stretched up the sides of my foot and made even walking uncomfortable, if not painful.  My knees and hips felt the force of the impact in the days that followed and that could have been avoided with perhaps a little more downhill training and attention to form.  I was a little disappointed in my time and this was exasperated by the fact that I had missed that we had a course deadline of 5:40. 5:36:20 was my finish time.  Between some issues in the second half dealing with the altitude and blisters on my feet, I lost all the time I had gained in the first half and ended close to my usual average. This will be my last race with any cool weather for sometime and I was grateful the sun wasn’t harsher until the final hour.  Next week will be a race that plunges me right into the summer heat wave – Wichita, Kansas. I hope you will continue to join me.

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Marathon Route #23: Casper Marathon – Casper, WY

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When you were young, you didn’t notice you were growing. It happens slowly, gradually, it sneaks up on you.  You think, “The washer shrank my favorite jeans” or “My Mom is getting shorter” or “Oh no, the roof is caving in!” At some point, it becomes clear that it isn’t your surroundings which have changed; you have changed. Initially when I finished this marathon I was a little disappointed in myself, but as I stood against the doorframe of my previous races, I was amazed at how much I had grown.

As a benchmark, I looked at my performance when I ran the route of the Albuquerque Duke’s City Marathon. Both Albuquerque and Casper are about a mile high.  The previous week for both races were at mid level altitudes.  It was much warmer in Casper, but the Casper Marathon has what feels like a large downhill run towards the beginning (in reality only around 150 ft) compared to the exceptionally flat course the Rio Grand Trail provides.  I was well rested and well fueled for both runs. Casper is about 1000 feet higher than Albuquerque adding to altitude stress. The biggest difference was Abuquerque was an unofficial race run solely by myself and Casper was official with fellow competitors in the field.  Even with that difference, the results are dramatic. I averaged 10:40 per mile pace in the first 10 miles of Casper compared to a 13:50 pace in Albuquerque. In Casper, it wasn’t until mile 19 that fatigue had a significant impact, whereas I was clearly struggling by mile 12 of the Duke’s City Marathon. The disappointment initially arose due to the 5:41:37 finish time. When you look at the pure numbers, you can clearly see the growth and strength I have gained in my previous races and this is why I consider Casper a win for me.

Race Review:

The first impression of a race is always through it’s volunteers, and Casper has a fantastic team who truly want to put on the best race they can.  They were very informative and friendly and great at handling last minute requests like adding a runner into the pasta dinner after the deadline. The expo was very small and most of the vendors were dealing in local product that I wasn’t interested in, but the race group had a large selection of previous year’s shirts and promo wear, just not in my size.  Although I appreciated the free photos, there weren’t as many taken this year as in previous years – very few finish line photos and very few photos out on the course (Correction:Finish line photos were taken by the timing company, there just weren’t any of me). We really lucked out with somewhat lower temperatures than usual and cloud cover for at least the first two hours of the race.

The course starts at the Casper Expo center which was very well staffed by volunteers and had many bathroom facilities to accommodate the runners from both the marathon and the half marathon. I really liked the fact that the start of the race was announced with a connon booming out across the morning! The first 5 miles of the course start with some light rolling hills on top of the bluff that overlooks downtown Casper. You do get some nice views of Casper Mountain around mile 3 as you sling back to pass by the expo and certainly as you have the half mile plunge to the valley floor. The next four miles run beautifully along the Platte River. Not only is the trail well paved shaded in many places by the trees along the way, there are some wonderful landmarks and bronze sculptures along the way like the Oil Derrick and big bronze fisherman fly fishing in the middle of the river.After crossing the river a couple times, you loop the Three Crowns golf course where you are pretty exposed to the sun for a little over three miles, then back to the Platte River Trails. The next area was pretty bland until get past the Central Wyoming Fairgrounds, then the trail starts to have gorgeous views of the river again, along with some winding curves and two fairly steep but thankfully short hills around miles 19 and then back again after the turn around at the 20 mile mark. After that we are just retracing our steps back along the river.  By this point, the cloud cover protecting us that morning had either burned or blown away and the heat really began to escalate. I was glad we didn’t need to run around the golf course again.  I will say that around mile 24 there were quite a few less volunteers along the route than when we came through the first time and I did get a little lost for a moment looping around a bridge which was a reroute due to the high waterline of the river that week.  Once I got past that area, the route back to the finish was very clear.

At the finish, I always appreciate when there is plenty of food left for us slow pokes and Casper didn’t disappoint.  Plenty of pizza and sandwiches of all sorts, iced beverages and sweets and fruit and I think there was beer, though I did not indulge. I did take advantage of the massages that were offered to runners. There were many therapists on hand and I did not have to wait and got a terrific post race rubdown that truly helped with some issues on the road.  I would highly recommend this race if you are looking for an affordable, well supported, easy course in Wyoming.

Lessons Learned:

Do Not Trust Runner’s Pace Predictions:

At the races where there aren’t pacers, I’ve been trying to find runners who run my paceat race time. I should know by now, I can’t predict what my pace will be on race day, and most other runners can’t either.  There were about 6-8 runners who I sounded out before the race and their paces were anywhere from 2 minutes faster per minute to 2 minutes slower per mile than predicted. I should just get running and see who I surrounded by around mile 3 or 4.

No Fruit Before The Race:

I’ve been eating oatmeal as my pre-race breakfast for sometime but had started to add fresh fruit to the mix.  For two races, this has left me with a bit of a sour stomach during the first hour of the race, so I am switching back to just oatmeal.

Physical Review:

I had been having some minor issues with my left hip over the past couple races, but really minor and truly only affecting me after the race.  This race I could feel it around mile 15 and made some adjustments to my stride. Unfortunately, that seemed to affect my left knee and as I was approaching the those steep hills around mile 19/20, I started getting sharp pains in my left knee.  I was able to mitigate this by making some shifts in my stride and foot placement, but little twinges haunted me throughout the last 6 miles.  I was truly grateful for the terrific alignment I received at the end of the race and I feel that everything got lined back up where it’s supposed to be, but I will be keep and eye on the knee for a little while.  I am nervous about running on it next week in a race that is all downhill – Revel Rockies, outside of Denver, Colorado. Thank you for following along. as always, I appreciate your comments and questions.