Temperature: 49F at the start, 63F at the finish
Weather: Sunny, 0-6mph winds (calm)
Participants: 5733 half marathoners and marathoners (71 of which were early starters, taking off at 6:15am)
Saturday – Expo: The expo was big and easy to find, although finding parking was a little tricky. Erik did hot laps around the block until we were done getting our race packets. The race shirts are nice, technical short sleeves that are fitted. I got a kid’s sized shirt which I appreciated. The rest of our race packet was lacking in the free-goodies-area, which some people count as a big factor for race quality. I didn’t care too much, but I could have done without all the flyers (I didn’t really look at them; I just threw them away).
Sunday- Start time: 7am.
Baberaham and I drove Marc’s truck to the U and parked in an engineering lot, about 200yds from the start line. We were right next to a porta potty, which was awesome because there were no long lines (it was like our ‘secret’ spot). We headed over to the start area around 6:30 to drop off our gear bags and make one last porta-potty-stop, but the lines were tremendously long for the loo. I waited in line while Baberaham dropped off both our bags, and when he returned I hadn’t made any progress on the loo-line-advancement. So, without further hesitation, we headed for a tree on the far side of the field.
We made our way with 12minutes to the start The race start was crowded, but it was our own fault for not starting a bit closer to the starting line. We walked to get across the mats and our first mile was a lot of weaving in and out of people run/walking. I expected this, because the race was a half marathon/full marathon start, but I didn’t want to lose Adam along the way. Luckily, he tucked in well behind me as we made our way through the crowds.
The course was beautiful. The Wasatch mountains were seemingly always on the horizon, and the sun was only directly ahead of us for a few miles. We ran through a few parks, including the Sugarhouse Park (from the photo below) and Liberty Park.
Unfortunately, the race route layout was not the best. At mile 5, the marathon and half split, and I felt relieved because we were no longer involved in the R.R.C.F. that was nearly 6,000 runners. I followed the other marathoners through beautiful Sugarhouse Park for a mile or two, but then I saw the stream of half marathoners ahead. We reconnected with the rest of the runners, except instead of being up to pace with the runners we left at the split, we were running with those who were two miles behind us before the split. That brought on a bit of anxiety for me, and I tried to contain it because I didn’t want to be a Negative Nancy with Adam by my side running his first marathon. We weaved our way once again through the runners, and then split off again for good. Once we were alone on the course, it was smooth sailing… until the last 3 or 4 miles…
I was glad I brought along a bottle of EFS Liquid Shot (found it at the Canyon Bicycles) on the race, as this served as my only nutrition aside from an orange slice around mile 19. It fit great in one of my Lucy Propel Run Skort pockets (and my inhaler fit in the other pocket). I finished my entire flask of Liquid Shot before mile 18, and was a little worried that the lack of food along the course would cause me energy-issues. I had Powerade at one of the aid stations around mile 18, but this made my stomach want to turn a little, so I continued drinking water. Luckily, I didn’t feel any bonk, and actually picked up the pace quite a bit toward the end, even with the uphill near the finish. This was probably the first marathon I have ever done where I felt great at the end, energy-wise and biomechanically.
The solid-food nutrition provided by the race was pretty bleak. There were no gels, oranges, or any food available for the half or full marathoners. Some spectators had set up their own tables with oranges and other nutrition (including TEQUILA! at mile 20!), but the solid-food nutrition provided by the race was nil. Marc wanted orange slices. I have to admit, I wanted orange slices, too.
The race finish was crowded. I was disappointed that the half marathon walkers were finishing when the marathon runners were, especially when I reached the cobblestone street that was 6-8ft wide. There was a lot of leaping and maneuvering that was not necessary if the finish chute were only a few yards wider.
It would have helped if the half and the full had pacers, or at least corrals where folks could start with others who are running the same pace. Also, the first half marathon/marathon split should be removed. That was a pain because it was too crowded when we reconnected, and we were running with people much slower pace than we wanted to be running with. So we had to re-weave our way through the slower crowds; very much a pain.
Gear bag retrieval was quite a pain in the neck for a lot of people. Half marathoners were in a really long line, but Baberaham and I cut in without anyone noticing and grabbed our bags from along the railing within fifteen minutes. The bags were apparently all dumped together, half and full racers, so the organization was a little difficult. Plus they organized bags based on last name, and we didn’t put our last name on our bags (only race numbers), so the volunteers couldn’t organize them. Fortunately, not many people put just their numbers on their bags, so riffling through other bags to find ours was not difficult.
Trax was closed, so Marc and Sarah had a difficult time getting back to their car to come back to get us. We didn’t plan that out very well. We should have parked one car at the finish, and one car at the start, that way it wouldn’t have been such a shit-show to get home afterward.
All in all, it was a good race with a beautiful course and lots of racers. I didn’t really like how the start was organized (or lacked organization, I guess). Salt Lake City was not my favorite marathon I’ve done, but it has a lot of potential to improve. This was its 7th year. It is tricky, because I thought- organization-wise- the race was fairly great. There were plenty of aid stations, volunteers, and helpers at the finish line. It was the course layout and quality of aid stations that was poor. I saw so many people wearing hydration packs and I know why now (not that I thought I needed to carry 50ounces of fluid).
What I wore: Saucony ProGrid Guide 3’s, Saucony Women’s Speed Short Sleeve (and Speed long sleeve that was shedded in the first mile!), Patagonia Active Sport High Impact bra, and Lucy Activewear Propel Run Skort