I've been running a lot more races lately and there are ones I like more than others but as I look back I often can't remember why or which ones. Also when I am looking for a race it is often hard to decide which ones to do. There are different things that can make a race worth my time and money but that information is not always obvious from the event website. I am going to try blogging about the races I run and maybe someone else might find it useful as well.
I ran Vigor's Big Cottonwood Canyon Half Marathon yesterday and my mom walked it, May 11. CON I was not stoked about the 4am bus ride and the subsequent 3:30am wake-up. My mom and I stayed in the hotel across from the pickup point (which was also the finish). That made it so we didn't have to add extra time for driving and parking. The buses had all left by 4:20 to drive up the winding road. We did pass two buses that had overheated and broke down. Those people had to get picked up by other buses but that was why they planned such an early bus start, in case of the unexpected.
PRO Once at the top they dropped us at Solitude Ski Resort so we didn't have to stand outside in the cold. There were bathrooms and everyone just just spread out sitting on the floor mostly. PRO About 30 minutes before the start they had us walk half a mile over to the start. You may not think this is a pro but it means that you warm up before the start. This is nice for temperature comfort and important to prevent injury. I always run faster after a good warm-up and a lot of times I dont get a good one in before a race becaus I am not sure where to run and I'm nervous about getting too far away from the start so I end up running tiny circles somewhere and it's just not as effective.
PRO Once we walked down we only had to stand around for a few minutes before they started right on time. CON A 6am race start makes no sense to me since it's not summer yet so there is no need to try and avoid the heat, plus people run better later, well I run better later (probably due to being awake and all). It was getting light when we started so I didnt have any trouble seeing and didnt need a light.
PRO This is one of the most beautiful races I have done. I love Big Cottonwood Canyon and it provided a fantastic backdrop all the way down. It is definitely an all down hill course with 3000ft drop from the start to finish. There may be moment when you go up momentarily but nothing that I would call a hill. PRO This made for an awesome PR. I beat my best time from Bryce Canyon Half last year by 6.5 minutes! I was ecstatic and all smiles at the finish. I'm pretty sure I even did a dance.
PRO There was bananas, oranges, water (the usual), Creamies (YUM!), and Jimmy Johns. There may have been more that I am not remembering. Plus there was massages that I didnt have to wait hours for.
This was a smaller big race. There were only about 500 runners (308 finished the half). PRO I got first in my age group so I got a winners medal that was Gold with a blue ribbon which was awesome that it is distinctly different from my finishers medal. CON I was disappointed that they were just handing the winners medals out at a table. They didn't make announcements or have you come up on a podium or something. It was a little anticlimactic.
Other things you might want to know:
They had chip timing with a chip on your shoe (I tend to prefer those ones). If you wear a gps watch, which I do, they are pretty much always off when you run in the canyon. There is just not great signal up there.
There was only water and an electrolyte drink at the support stops but I usually bring my own gels so that doesn't bother me.
There was a clothing drop at the start and I got my stuff all back.
There were stairs at about mile 11, I think. They tell you to hold the handrail and make sure you do! It was a little scary but kind of a hilarious moment in the race. My boyfriend loved it and laughed about it all day.
CON Also my mom did get lost and missed the finish line. You follow a little path for a while once you come out of the canyon but then right at the end you cut off of it and go into a parking lot and to the finish. She missed that and it added a few minutes to her time. We heard that that happened to a few other people but I felt the race was well marked with mile markers the while time.
CON And a day later I am soooo soooo sore! Down hill takes it's toll on your quads and mine are screaming today. Any up or down motions are super hard and stairs are not my friend. If you are not sore after this race you must be related to superman.
I would totally do this race again. I thought the organizers did a great job and I enjoyed the experience. Next year I am thinking I'll try the 5K.
Sorry if this was too comprehensive...