Monday, July 4, 2011

Rocky Mountain Double Marathon - 5-30-2011

Rocky Mountain Double Marathon – a very brief recap - (sorry just a short one for this race)

The course for the half marathon, marathon, and double marathon all start at the Lincoln Monument Rest Area off I-80 in the mountains between Laramie and Cheyenne. How do you know that you are at the right place, well, to start there is a 48 foot tall monument there that was erected in honor of President Lincoln. You can’t miss it – the thing is huge! I posted some photos of it on my facebook account. The course is briefly described as an out-and-back through the roads of Medicine Bow National Forest, starting at an elevation of 8,700 ft. and dropping to 8,000 ft. at the lowest point of the marathon and double marathon course. In my case, I had signed up for the double marathon run so I got to run the full marathon course twice (two out-and-backs), covering 52.4 miles total. One neat fact is that the Wyoming Marathon is the oldest marathon in the state and the Rocky Mountain Double Marathon is the oldest ultra marathon in the Rocky Mountain region.

I knew that I was in for an interesting day as the weather was, at best, misty, windy, and in the low 30's at the start. Oh yeah, and there was a little bit of fog. Well, actually the fog was dense enough that at different points in the race I literally lost track of runners 15 yards ahead of me. By the return trip from the turn around however, the countryside became more visible, and breath-taking at times. The bits in the forest were nice and quiet, and there were lots of interesting rock formations to look at in the Vedauwoo section of the course.

The course itself was mostly packed dirt/gravel roads, which quickly turned to mud on this day. There were also about 7-8 miles of pavement from miles 7-11 and 15-19 which proved to be extremely windy sections of the course as they ran on a frontage road boarding the interstate – it seemed as if I was running into headwinds both ways. Additionally, while the course appeared easy on paper, having run it I would highly suggest that anyone deciding to do so, should really respect this course as it is not a flat course - especially since the last 5 miles of each out-and-back are pretty much uphill – with the last mile alone including 2 significant hills – and yes, you finish on an uphill.
Another fun challenge was the fact that there were probably 10 cattle guard crossings that got very slick as the rain, fog and mud seemed to turn the metal grates into mini sheets of ice.

This is a simple, old school race. No chip timing, no expo, just a few people in a trailer that love to put on this race as they enjoyed running it long ago and now hope to pass on the adventure to so many more for years to come. The race director is clear: they promise nothing and they deliver. This marathon (or double) is NOT for a first time runner or anyone looking for a P.R., but is definitely on my list as one of my favorites and I will run it again.

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