Sunday, November 11, 2012

Backcountry Wilderness Half Marathon (Race Recap)

Saturday, November 10
Highlands Ranch, CO
Half Marathon #71
Colorado Half #15
Weather - Overcast, Windy, Snowy, Cold

With our new goal of running all of the half marathons in Colorado, the Backcountry Wilderness half marathon would have to be run at some point. I didn't register for it until 2-3 days before the race, because if it was going to be raining, snowing, or below zero, I would not be running. More than anything, I was hoping that a good trail run would cure my recent hatred of running.

L had to work the night before, but with the race only 45 minutes away, and not starting until 8:30, I didn't even get up until 6:15. We headed out the door around 6:45 and marvelled at the 54 degree weather on our drive. We made it ALMOST all the way to the race without getting lost. Our GPS unit stopped us by the high school about a half mile away and the "on your right" was really a neighborhood. Luckily we found the gigantic rec center. The website directed us to pick up packets AT the rec center. Pick up was really at the park up the hill, and the rude woman at the desk hassled us for wanting to use the bathroom, even though the website specified it would be open during the race. Annoying.

The pick up area was pretty congested, and not super organized. Luckily, there was a guy yelling at us so we knew which of the three crowds we should be in to get our bib and (awesome) shirt. We got our stuff within 10 minutes and then chose to sit in the car until the race started. The temperature had started to drop, and an angry black cloud was hanging over us. Brrr.

A cold front came in, and as a result, Libby ended up joining us in Highlands Ranch instead of driving through winter weather conditions in the mountains to get to the marathon in Grand Junction she was registered for. After hitting the bathrooms one last time, we walked together over to the start line, where I ran into Jennifer and Cheryl. Love seeing the same people at local races! It was a bit disconcerting to see TONS of people with Search & Rescue clothes on (and search dogs!) but it turns out many of them were running in the race and they were the beneficiary.

Libby and Me
The race director lined us up (on the wrong side of the mat), so we ended up starting a few minutes late while we all moved.

The course began on a paved path, and it was probably a mile before we actually got to trail. Right off the bat, the course was uphill, and I had to stop and stretch those stupid calves just a few minutes in. It was chilly and windy, but I took off my long sleeve shirt and gloves within the first mile. I just overheat too easily! The first section of "trail" was just dirt. No rocks, not technical at all. And barren. The course is advertised as "amazing" with "amazing views." Lies.

I think it started snowing on us somewhere around mile 3. It got colder. And windier. We walked quite a bit of the uphill.

Finally, around mile 6, we actually got some downhill. It was a bit more technical of a section, but I would still barely call it "trail."

This was the only halfway pretty part of the trail. Why anyone does trail running, in Colorado, in November, (intentionally), is beyond me. Not that this would have been better in the summer. 95% of the course had no trees, so one would probably bake out there if the sun was actually out.

There was another really steep section between miles 10 and 12 (I didn't wear my watch, so not exactly sure where).

It got REALLY cold and I put my gloves back on. My body was feeling fine and I wasn't really hating the run, it was just icky outside and I wanted to be done. For about 2 miles we were running around on a plateau and we could see exactly where we needed to go, but weren't sure how long it would take to get there.

We actually passed about a half dozen people in the last few miles. The last 3/4 of a mile or so was back on the paved bike path, and then we had a STUPID HUGE uphill finish. We literally passed Libby with just a few hundred feet to the finish (she rocked something like an 18 minute PR). The temperature had, in fact, dropped almost 20 degrees. It was only 38 degrees when we finished, and that doesn't even factor in the wind chill.

Bib #2427
Official Time - 2:51:23
Overall Place - 395/414 (wow. lame.)
Gender Place - 192/206
Division Place - 73/79
MapMyRun Time - 2:51:43
MapMyRun Pace - 12:53
Mile 1 - 12:37
Mile 2 - 13:28
Mile 3 - 13:06
Mile 4 - 13:55
Mile 5 - 13:55
Mile 6 - 13:49
Mile 7 - 12:20
Mile 8 - 12:22
Mile 9 - 12:05
Mile 10 - 13:25
Mile 11 - 14:19
Mile 12 - 12:24
Mile 13 - 11:11
Mile 13.33 - 10:25

It seemed MUCH harder than this
There was supposedly food and beer at the finish, but we didn't see it and it was too cold and windy to really care. Talked with Libby on the brief walk back to the cars and then headed our separate ways.

  • Even registering just a few days before, it was only $60 (plus fees)
  • Nice gender specific long sleeve shirt (this is the back):
  • We didn't see ANY wildlife. Not even a prairie dog or a bunny. (Of course it WAS ridiculously cold out, maybe they were all hibernating).
  • Calling this course amazing is just a lie. It was not.
  • It was challenging because it was all uphill for 6 miles, NOT because it was a challenging trail. In fact, calling this a "95% trail" was also misleading.
  • Everyone was REALLY friendly. The course was pretty well organized, although if we would have been alone, I'm not entirely sure we wouldn't have gotten lost.
  • Only three aid stations - water and heed only. They DID send out an email telling people to bring their own water though.
  • Bummed I didn't get that beer, but it was way too cold.
  • Still no official results even though they were to be posted within 24 hours.
  • Good for a "beginner" trail runner.
Good news is that I don't feel totally burned out and miserable after this race. I did feel like I might have frostbite or hypothermia though.


  1. Yay for not feeling burned out after, great job! I love the back of the shirt.

  2. Cant believe you gals ran in tank tops and skirts! I would have frozen the moment I get out out of the car (or even the house!) if I did that. Congrats again!

  3. So glad for your new goal. It would be great to run a 1/2 with you - low altitude, of course!

  4. Yikes - that's crazy how the temps dropped. Those look like some fun trails to run on.


  5. Love the back of the shirt! Congrats on a tough race. I hate when a race is advertised for something it's not.

  6. love that race shirt! sorry the race wasn’t what they advertised though. congrats on 71. holy crap.


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