Point Mariah Trail Marathon is the best race. If you haven’t participated yet (as a runner, volunteer or supporter), I can only recommend you do next year. Mark your calendars for August 3rd 2024!! Seriously, what are other races where you get to go on a swing over stunning canyons?!?
Photo: Riley Bathurst
Team “Never Hike”
My goal for the race was to run every single step. It may not be the best “strategy” but it was very empowering and removed the mental work of deciding when to run and when to hike. It was my first trail race with that mindset. It’s a fun challenge to take on with a distance and elevation profile that looks challenging but achievable.
A few weeks before the race, I did some course recon with Renee. We ran loop 3 (Rowton 1) and then I continued on loop 2 (Pt Mariah), checking for confusing intersections, needed trail work, … I had so much fun running these trails that the idea of running the marathon without hiking sprouted in my mind. I hadn’t realized then that these were the loops with the most mellow elevation profile… oopsie!! As the race approached, my coach, David Roche, suggested I race aggressively: take chances and see what happens on the edge. I told him about my idea to run everything and we agreed it was a great goal. If you are a frequent listener to the Some Work All Play (SWAP) podcast, you’ve heard Megan and David talk about team “never hike” and I decided I was joining the movement!
The day before the race (you may want to do that before!), I checked the elevation profile more closely. I noticed that the first climb had 571ft in 0.8 miles. If I was able to run that, I should be able to run the rest! As the race started, I questioned my decision, running at basically the same speed as everyone was hiking at. But I kept on going and by the top of the first climb, I decided that the hardest was behind me. Maybe a bit optimistic but also a good way to fuel positive thoughts! There were other climbs that were steep, and would have been more efficient to hike but I would ask myself “can you keep running?” and since the answer was yes, I would.
I’ve noticed that my threshold for what feels too steep to run tends to decrease later in a race (or a long run). I may start hiking what’s above 15% and by the end, anything above 5% feels way too steep. Not having the option to hike removed the mental load of deciding to run or hike. It also made the mostly mellow last climb go by faster and I passed several people who were hiking. The last 0.1 or 0.2 miles of the climb were gnarly and definitely not efficient to run, but there was no way I would start hiking when that was all that was left of the climb! I saw the top of the Soda Springs lift and knew I had done it (I only had to make sure I didn’t sprain my ankle on the way down!!)
Best cheering and support
Photo: Will Summers
One of the most fun part of this race is the single aid station design. Every 4 to 6 miles, you come back to friends and volunteers to recharge excitement levels (and snack and water bottles)! I typically run first thing in the morning and hadn’t had many opportunities to run in the heat over the summer. Even though the temperatures weren’t forecast to be really hot, I was worried about over heating. I had thought about the river just next to the aid station which was flowing hard when I did the trail recon in July but they must be controlling the flow and it was basically dry. Instead, I got the best cold shower at each stop at the aid station.
Eating like clockwork
Another thing I worked on for this race was fueling and hydration. I had a fairly large breakfast with a serving and a half of Picky Oatmeal and a banana an hour and a half before the race and finished a bottle of sports drink in the hour before the race.
During the race, I only carried a handheld and took advantage of the amazing support. I had filled my bottle with Tailwind at home and aimed at having it finished by the end of each loop, refilling it with sports drink (the AS supplied Tailwind). I also aimed for a gel every 30 minutes, totaling about 300 calories / hour of fast burning fuel. This has been my strategy for most races and long runs and it worked great.
Finish line fun
Hanging out at the finish line was another amazing part of the day. While I tried to not hang out at the aid station too long and to keep moving, I fully enjoyed the post race energy. Just after finishing, Meggie was there to ask if I needed anything and offer me a cool glass of water (exactly what I needed!). I got to catch up with so many friends, the afternoon flew by.
And one of the highlights was also a big hug from the best Race Director and friend, Chris Cloyd. He had encouraged me to take chances and push myself and it was amazing to share the achievement with him.