As I mentioned previously, I have been in a general funk lately, brought on by the unrelenting winter we are experiencing here in Michigan. It is almost April, and we are celebrating any day that gets above freezing. I have been avoiding anything that involves going outside to run, which is seriously cutting into the race reports for the year.
Luckily, I have friends who a) can travel to interesting races and b )don’t mind writing about them for the blog. Our favorite guest blogger, Leslie, of Mango Madness race report fame (and my partner in crime for many running adventures) has been kicking around the desert of Arizona with her daughter Christi at the Lost Dutchman Half Marathon. Here is her race report.
|Leslie and Christi|
It’s great to be back as a guest blogger! This year I’ve set the somewhat crazy goal of completing 13 half marathons in 2013. Crazy mostly because I set the goal while in an air cast for a stress fracture, and really wasn’t sure what the year would bring. Perhaps I wasn’t thinking clearly, but that’s what makes racing fun. Sign up, think about it later!
In February I traveled to Phoenix to spend a fun-filled week with my granddaughter (while mommy & daddy vacationed in Mexico). I’m not one to go anywhere without checking for races, and twisting a few arms, if need be, to fit one in. As luck would have it, there were 2 half marathons in the Phoenix area that fit my schedule. With a little persuasion, my daughter agreed to race with me, and we settled on the Lost Dutchman Half Marathon, in Apache Junction, AZ. This was a perfect opportunity for us to race together, since she was also coming off an injury and unable to run at her usual zippy pace.
The race is set in the shadow of Superstition Mountain. The half marathon is an out and back course, while the marathon is point to point. There is also a 10K, Trail 8K and 2 Mile option. Something for everyone! The half is advertised as flat. I guess flat is a relative term. It was not flat compared to where I train in Michigan, but I suppose it is to those that normally train on 2 mile long inclines. I consider a race that has what is affectionately called “the wall” to have a bit of an elevation change. It did, but certainly wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle!
We skipped the race expo in Apache Junction, and opted to pick up our packets at Roadrunner Sports. an ideal option for us. [Leslie never misses a chance to shop!] Packet pickup was also available the morning of the race for everyone but the marathon runners. If you do this race, it’s a great option. There is plenty of parking in the park, and it’s only a short walk to the expo area. Bring money! The vendors are also onsite throughout the race. One of my favorites was a local company called Gypsy Runner. Lots of fun and creative items for runners and triathletes.
On race morning we were up at o’dark o’clock for our drive to Apache Junction. The race is easy to find, the parking is plentiful, as are the port-a-potties. Lines were never more than 3 deep. This alone makes this race a winner, in my book! When we arrived, it was still dark, and cold. Yes, it is cold in the desert at night, especially in the winter, even for a Michigander like me. Thank goodness for a toasty car to wait in, since we arrived more than an hour before race time! Cold temps aside, race temps are generally ideal for this race, and 2013 was no exception. Chilly at the start, abundant sunshine (wear sunscreen), and around 60 at the finish. Ideal in my book!
The race started at 7:15 am, just as the sun was rising from behind Superstition Mountain. After a flat stretch out of the Prospector Park, there is a slight climb before turning towards Superstition Mountain, the sun, and a very nice downhill (note to self.......we come back this way). The route is not only beautiful, but offers a freshly graded shoulder for those that prefer dirt to pavement.
|Wide Dirt Shoulder|
What more could you ask for, eh? The route is rolling to the turnaround with ample aid stations. Superstition Mountain gets closer with each step, there are beautiful desert views, plentiful saguaro cacti, and an occasional hawk or prairie dog.
With something new to discover with each step, the miles zip by as you reach the turnaround.
Ah, the turnaround! Up and down rollers, and then “The Wall”! A fun climb from approximately mile 10.5 through 12.5. Funny it seems like more of a climb in this direction than a downhill in the other direction. The race directors have a sense of humor, and place a “wall” to go through in the middle of the road. Be sure to take advantage of the photo opportunities, but don’t be fooled! You aren’t close to the top! Give it another mile or so, and don’t take too much stock in those elevation charts! My legs were toast by the time I did reach the top, so I wasn’t able to fully enjoy that downhill towards the finish. Still, I finished strong, only 2 minutes off of a PR. Not bad for 7 weeks training out of the boot! Overall, it’s a fast course.
Lost Dutchman had some of the best post-race food. Besides the usual bananas, cookies and bagels, they offered yogurt with granola or breakfast burritos. Yum!!!!! Also, a lot of fun photo opportunities with the prospector and his donkey and array of crazy critters! The medals are original and fun too. Each race has its own medal. None of that full/half share a medal thing at Lost Dutchman!
Would I recommend this race? Absolutely! Lost Dutchman is a small race that is well organized. It’s a nice bonus to have a road race that isn’t run through a city. For trail runners, no it isn’t a trail, but the gravel/dirt shoulder is a nice option if a trail race isn’t available.
|The Finishers and Their Bling!|