RACE #107: Revel Big Cottonwood Marathon


I love the marathon. I love the challenge, I love the experience and I love the lessons that it teaches. Nothing against other distances, because each step forward is an effort. But, there really is something about running 26.2 miles that is exhilarating and life changing. It really is hard to explain in writing without experiencing it yourself.

But, after Saturday’s race down Big Cottonwood Canyon that love of the marathon grew deeper and taught me even more about myself and what it means to push one’s self beyond your preconceived assumptions. Not just within in, but the other runners around me. That is one reason why I love pacing so much, you’re a part of MANY other’s races and journeys. You get to share in their moment and encourage them past roadblocks and comfort zones.

Going into the race, like many other races I pace, I didn’t know what to expect. Since I was sweeping I knew it was going to along time on my feet. I knew I was going to be sore for the 24-48 hours after the race and that I was going to help others along the way. I knew that would mean either pushing them along, help them to get back up and go or quite possibly help them get into the support van. All, which happened on Saturday.

So many bright, shiny people wrapped up like burritos.

For the most part when I am sweeping or as I like to call it, “pacing the support role” I do so alone. But, I requested to not do the marathon alone, because I knew we’d need more support since we had a hard deadline to get out of the canyon. And, I felt that wouldn’t have allowed me enough time to give to focus on that and support to runners. Yes, pacing is about meeting your time, but it’s more so about giving support and getting others to follow you and move along.

Luckily, the RYR Pacers asked Ramie Best to pace along with me and I couldn’t have had a more awesome partner. We had to average a 15:00 minute mile to get out the canyon by 11am and that was our focus. This was slower than our normal pace so this allowed us some give to stop and give support, use the restroom and look for pink Starburst at the candy aid stations when needed. We picked up the pace when needed to meet those 15 minute cut off times and it worked perfectly.

I love the beauty of this canyon!

Since we were the support pacers we worked with the support van driven by the race organizers. Since Lexus is the title sponsor for the marathon it was only fitting the support van was a Lexus. It was pretty classy. I joked that after the marathon they’d have to hose it out because of the runners that got in for support.

The race started at Guardsman’s Pass up the canyon this year, which gave us about 17 miles inside the canyon. This was great because last year it was about 13-14 and in 2012 when I ran the inaugural marathon it was like only 7-8 miles. I can’t stress it enough how much I love running downhill so this was a godsend. Sure the quads are sore now, but I love when gravity does part of the work for you running down the mountain.

I love when I get complimented during my marathons.

There were a few runners we had to support in the canyon. One runner was having some stomach pain around mile 11 and we got him to the mile 13 aid station. He probably could have stopped at mile 11, but we helped push him a bit to at least get a half marathon. This was his first marathon and I knew he had a feeling of disappointment bowing out early. So Ramie and I got him to 13 and told him to try again soon for 26.2 as he got into the Lexus.

Sometimes there are the smallest of variables that happen at marathons that make or break your race. I really felt bad, but I know he’ll be back on the course.

The toughest part of the whole marathon is and always will be the out and back on Wasatch Blvd. It is for a couple reasons … one, you hit it around the hottest part of the race and, two, there isn’t much (if any) shade along that portion of the race. Since the course moved up the canyon a few miles that took a few miles off the out and back stretch. Again, another godsend. It was hot and I hit the wall as the course was flat and hot.

Ramie and I at the finish line with the couple that we ran in with on Saturday.

At Mile 23 I was tanking pretty bad and as we approached the 7 Eleven at the mouth of the canyon I knew exactly what I needed to do. Get a Slurpee. I was planning on getting one either there or closer to the finish line, but I needed a boost. So Ramie and I ran into the store and grabbed a couple of Slurpees. I was exactly what I needed. It cooled my core and gave me enough calories for a nice boost for the last 5K.

The last three were along Fort Union Blvd. towards 1300 E. though there wasn’t much shade it was hilly enough that it didn’t make the journey AS bad as if we ended with the terrain on Wasatch Blvd. We paced a couple in from Bountiful that was running their second marathon together, the wife was hurting and struggling during the last couple of miles. Once we got to the last mile we could see the finish line and just pushed ourselves.

Our family went to a ranch after my race and … well … walking over a cattle guard with my marathon feet and flip flops was a bad decision.

It was really neat because a number of volunteer came out to meet up and formed a tunnel to the finish line. It was cool. I kinda of regret not recording it.

But, once we crossed the finish line I beelined it to the water and immediately downed two cold bottles of water. We then jumped in the ice trough for an onsite ice bath. That’s one perk about being one of the last runners. It was needed and appreciated.

In the moments, hours and days since the marathon and looking back at my pictures and those of others I am filled a deeper love for running. The spirit of the marathon is not just about crossing the finish line and checking off an item on a bucket list, it’s about much, much more. It’s about the journey. It’s about the training, it’s about the persistence and it’s about giving it all you’ve got. No matter if you finish among the first, the middle or last … it’s your race. It’s your marathon. It’s your moment.

Nobody else’s, but your own.

That’s the beauty of the marathon and it was on full display this past weekend.





Having raced or paced nearly every weekend since July it’s kind of odd not having my next race until October 10th. That’s basically a month away from now. Even as I am writing this I am thinking of races I could run between now and the Layton Marathon. I was going to run the Park City Trail Half this weekend, but opted to sell it mainly because I didn’t think it was smart to do right after the marathon and because of some family obligations on the 19th.

But, I am almost wondering if I could find something closer to home? Stay tuned on that. I know I shouldn’t, but I want to. But, really, I shouldn’t. Oh the indecision.

Either way I am really excited for this race. This is the race I will be running tethered together with 79 or more other runners to set a Guinness World Record. Pretty much the only way I see being able to get the title of “World Record Runner.” This will be a race I am going to raise money for the Huntsman Hometown Heroes program so please stay tuned to the blog for more information within the next week or so.

But, October 10th can’t come soon enough!


Total Mileage Breakdown for 2015
2015 Training Miles – 204.5 miles
2015 Walking Miles – 291.8 miles
2015 Race Miles – 339.7 miles
2015 Total Miles – 836.0 miles
Monthly Total Miles for 2015
January – 78.8 miles
February – 72.85 miles
March – 115.3 miles
April – 76.3 miles
May  97.4 miles
June  131.15 miles
July  101.65 miles
August  110.2 miles
September – 58.34 miles


The last episode of The Utah Runcast came out last Wednesday. If you haven’t listened yet, you’re missing out. We talked to Tim Gill aka “Kilt Dude” and Joe Coles the Race Director from On Hill Events about upcoming races, fundraising and World Records.

Catch it here via the Podgoblin podcast network



One Comment

  1. Great article! I did this race with one of my girlfriends and we just love all the FOLKS there! I couldn’t walk for 3 days afterwards but would definitely do again. THanks for sharing your memories. Love the photos too! You look like you are having a blast!

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