Crazy Dave : A splendid day in incredible scenery, but a very difficult marathon!

Par Rédaction 22 Fév 2016 11:16

Crazy Dave : A splendid day in incredible scenery, but a very difficult marathon!

“As spectacular as difficult…”

3 am. The alarm clock goes off! It seems to me that it goes off earlier every day! I did not sleep much but I am not tired.

I have a quick breakfast and get dressed: today I decide to wear one legging and two layers on top – with an extra one just in case -, gloves and my ear warmers, as it is relatively cold in Las Vegas, and it’ll be approximately 32° F in the desert when the race starts, so I need to be prepared.

Bad news: my sports watch stopped last night. I tried to start it again but to no avail: it died on me. Today I have to run with my regular watch, and I’ll navigate thanks to the mile markings

It takes me forty five minutes to walk, then jog the three miles to the Bally’s Hotel and Casino where the bus is picking the runners up. It is 4:30 and a few runners are already waiting there. The bus arrives fifteen minutes later. We board and head towards Red Rock Canyon nineteen miles from Las Vegas. There are about twenty people in the bus. We reached our destination in the middle in the desert: it’s still pitch-dark. The organization set up tables for the runners to pick up the bibs and an area for us to drop off our bags, as well as portable toilets. I pick up my bib and T-shirt. It is biting cold and my entire body is shivering. I add a third layer, put on my gloves and ear warmers. It feels much better! The sun rises over the mountains coloring them with incredible shades. It’s stunning!

6 am. The race is going to start soon. We go to the start where we listen to the last race instructions. There are not many runners at the start of the marathon. I’d say approximately one hundred. The gun goes off at 6:15 for the marathon runners. Our pace is good and the course is flat but not for long. The cold bites my hands despite my gloves and I breathe icy cold air – never a nice feeling.

At mile 2, on the first long uphill, I feel “locked,” I breathe with difficulty and I can’t start running, so I walk. I look around me and notice that half of the runners are doing the same. It makes me feel better, as I thought something was wrong with me, but that’s not it. We are at over 3,800 feet elevation and I am having a hard time moving my body. I have the feeling to weigh more than 200 pounds! I figure out that things are not going to be easy for me today. The scenery will be spectacular, but it’s going to be tough for the body and it will be a very long run! It does not matter, I will enjoy the beauty of the canyon.

The rising sun lights up the red mountains. I stop to take pictures of these wonderful shades of red. The course is a succession of long rough up hills and steep screaming descents over several miles. It’s really too much at once, it’s exhausting and really hurts the legs. In addition, the rough pavement is not helping. I look at the signs and check my watch: I reach 6.5 miles in 01:15. It’s a normal pace due to the tough course I am running. I hear a few cheers and encouragements, even though there are not too many of us running the marathon

A runner who says he is a race director tells me that he has heard about me. It’s nice. We continue until mile 13.1 (half marathon) where I turn around in 02:35. I still run at the same slow tempo. No wonder. We are now on the road back and it is still as hard as before. I take off my ear warmers as it has warmed up. I am walking more and more often as the up hills are much too steep and long for me to run them. I know that my timing won’t matter at all today as the course is really very difficult and it starts to be really hot. I just need to enjoy the incredible scenery around me. At one point I feel like listening to some music with my IPod but decide against it. I prefer enjoying the silence and the wilderness around me.

I reach mile 19.6 in 4:18. My average pace has drastically dropped! At mile 22, I take off my gloves and slightly speed up. All of a sudden, I hear the roaring of powerful car engines: a McLaren, a Ferrari and a Lamborghini, all three with the roof open, are enjoying the open road to the fullest. The finish is not far away. Two miles are left and I notice that the runners who have passed me are one entire boulevard ahead of me!  I speed up a bit and pass the finish line in 6:06:20.

I don’t see the point of this course for marathon runners because it’s so hard that it forces most runners to walk. This is annoying and frustrating as we take part in a marathon to run, not to walk all the time.  And there is no other way for us to manage a course like that one. You cannot expect to run all these up hills as you’ll end up out of breath and exhausted after the first one.

Only masochists who think they have been bad and want to punish themselves will enjoy it! If you are one of those, go ahead, you’ll be punished all right! However, if you have not run many marathons, do not run this course as you need a lot of experience to manage such a difficult course.

I should not say too much against this marathon not only because I have chosen it but also because I really had time to enjoy the spectacular vistas of the canyon. I think though that this road is better for a trip in Harley-Davidson, with a beer stop at each scenic overlook.

The organization of the marathon was excellent. It takes a lot of work to organize such a run. Security was good, nice and helpful. I enjoyed the hamburgers served after the marathon. In my opinion, the food provided during the course were a bit light, but it was often the case for the American marathons I have run so far. I hope my next marathons will prove me wrong.

Special kudos to the women runners I ran with today. Despite the incredibly difficult course, they ran very well, no matter their age group! Mesdames, hats off to you!

The day was nevertheless extraordinary and I will quickly forget the difficult course to only remember the magnificent scenery that nature offered us today. In short, it was not the type of run I needed. It really exhausted me.

Cut off time was seven hours. I think that it is great for a runner to finish this run in seven hours. I left the finish area at 7:15, and runners were still crossing the finish line.  Just to show you how difficult it was.

Next week, I’ll be back in a city, in the jazz-rock Cajun ambiance of New-Orleans. I talked to a runner who has already done it and who told me it is a very beautiful race.

I’d like to finish by especially thanking my friend Stéphane of St Martin. Many thanks for your support!

Until next Sunday. Have a nice week.


Par Rédaction 22 Fév 2016 11:16