This was the first time I’ve ever run a marathon as a training run and I picked the perfect race for it. The scenery was so gorgeous I kept stopping to take pictures. The course was mostly flat. Actually it even slightly downhill for most of the course. And there was considerable tailwind. All of this lead to a great time of 4:11, when In was running at a leisurely pace.
The race was super well organized. My wife dropped me off at the LDS Church a block away from the shuttle buses headed to the starting line, which were coming and going without any wait time. After a half hour drive through the pitch-black desert, we arrived at the starting line which (and I mean this in the most affectionate way possible) looked like a post-apocalyptic refuge camp. It was dark and cold, so the organizers set up evenly spaced bonfires, around which runners in space blankets huddled. Those who weren’t huddled around bonfires were in lines for a zillion port-a-potties, or going out behind them out in the inky darkness.
The only hiccup was that the race started 15 minutes late. It wouldn’t have been so bad if we didn’t pull ourselves away from the bonfires or, foolishly ditched our space blankets. I heard the eerie sound of dozens of teeth rattling, mine included.
Once the race started, everything was good. Our muscles were warming and the sun was rising, showing off the spectacular view.
For a town as small as St. George, the race had a surprising amount of spectators and supportive signage. There were some memorable ones in particular. Just in case you forgot you were in Southern Utah, one sign read “You run better than the government.” Another read, “Go Caleb! You can sleep during General Conference!” One group of spectators bucked the trend: a group of teenage girls offering free butt slaps. I didn’t take them up on their offer.
Aid stations were perfect, even occasionally offering Vaseline or Icy Hot. And lots of medical and police presence, which was great because I encountered at least a couple people who boasted about barely training only to see them barrel out full-speed at the starting line.
I conserved energy early so I was feeling good as I approached the finish line. When I crossed, I was feeling great about my time. The organizers did a great job keeping the course clear and I got the coolest race medal I’ve ever seen.
After crossing, there was tons of food and a cordoned off area for the runners to relax and stretch. There were volunteers walking around and checking all the runners to see if they were OK and even bringing food and drinks to anyone who asked! Seriously! All of this to say, the St. George Marathon was a lovely event. The next day, I saw that there was a whole sectional in the paper dedicated to the marathon, in which race results were published. You can see why it’s a highly desired race. If you’re selected through the lottery process, I highly recommend it.
Next race up is the Cougar Mountain Trail Run Series 50Km, my first ultramarathon. Until then!