Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Moab Spring Trail Run (Race Recap)

Sunday, March 4
Sagers, UT
Half marathon #179
Weather - #alltheelements (except sun)

Race Day

Up at 5:50. Got dressed, finished our packing and had breakfast in the hotel lobby. We managed to leave right at 6:30, which was the goal. The race start was very easy to find, and thankfully there was a big banner at the turn, which was just a tiny dirt road of Highway 191. Per the pre-race email, we arrived early and carpooled (well, it was just me and A, but to the race, that equated carpooling). We were parked in a lot that was pretty tiny, and we assumed that we had received the best parking.

We sat in the car for a LONG time. The wind was howling and neither of us was anxious to get out of the car and stand around in it. Then we noticed that cars were continuing down the road and around the corner. Wait, we arrived early and DID NOT get the close parking? Not cool! We both decided to forgo our original outfits (tee shirts and skirt for me, shorts for A) in favor of a long sleeve under our tees, as well as tights. The forecast claimed only a 10% chance of moisture, so we opted to leave our rain jackets, especially with "low 40's" for temps.

Finally, around 7:30 we decided that we better head over, so that we would have time to get our stuff and use the bathroom. It was a LONG walk. About halfway to the start an older woman asked if we wanted a ride to the start. Yes, please. She agreed that it wasn't cool that the early arrivals were parked further away, but we still graciously accepted the few minutes out of the elements.

There was nothing at the start other than a few trucks, a trailer, a half dozen port-o-potties, and some flagging. Nothing that would protect us from the 40(?) mph winds. We picked up our bibs and our scavenger list, and I shoved our tee shirts in my pack since there was no way we would have time to go to/from the car again.
I used the bathroom and considered just staying in there until the start because it was so warm being out of the wind. The 8K and the half marathon were starting at 8 am, but there were three wave starts to help ease congestion. I had signed us up for the last wave, which didn't start until 8:09. As we were waiting around, the rain started to fall. Oh. Lovely. Especially since we had opted to leave our jackets in the car. We huddled together and I asked A if she was sure that she wanted to run. She said "we have to do it momma." We decided that there was absolutely nothing we could do about the weather, and we should just try to have fun. During the pre-race announcements we heard that the course split at the first aid station at mile 4.5, so we decided that we could always drop to the 8K at that point, if we were too miserable.

There were not a lot of people in the race, and standing around waiting for our wave was torture. I'm pretty sure I have never been that cold in my life. Finally, we were off.

We started towards the back. Most of the course was on single track and was marked with orange flagging. I let A lead the way so that she could set the pace. I was pretty happy that we managed to get in front of a handful of people, although we had no way of knowing what distance they were actually doing.

Thankfully, once we started moving, the wind seemed to die down a bit. It also helped that some of the course was blocked by huge rocks. The climbing started immediately, and I had looked at the profile, so I knew that pretty much the first 3 miles were uphill, some flats/downhill, and then climbing from about 7-10. For once, I seem to have actually read the profile correctly, because I didn't feel like there were any surprises.

Within a half mile, it started to lightly rain, and then SNOW. Yes, snow. Ugh. We were running on a section of gorgeous single track, taking pictures of nature items for our scavenger hunt, and actually having a good time. Once we were moving, it wasn't as cold. Miles 1-2 were the worst, weather wise. We were on a section of slick rock and getting pelted from the side with a combo of hail an snow - it was pretty painful!

Being pelted by the snow

Once the snow stopped we had a few miles where the trails were pretty muddy, but other than that, the moisture was pretty much done for the race.

We ran along a ridge, then hit some nice downhill. We got to the first aid station, decided we were both feeling fine and continued on for the back 2/3 of the race. We caught up to a group of three ladies (we would find out later that two of the three were 19 years old and in A's age group). We all ran a similar pace until maybe mile 6 or 7, when we were running more of the uphills and never saw them again. It took a bit longer to get to the next aid station than I expected, but we both grabbed just a coke and headed out. With only about 5 miles left, we were feeling pretty good.

A was getting a bit tired, but still having fun and in a great mood. We ran a lot more than I had expected to (maybe the wind/cold helped that), and by the time we got to mile 10 (and pretty much the end of the major climbs), we had passed about a half dozen people. All was going well until it lightly started snowing again, and we were running down a section of slick rock. I commented that snow had just pelted me in the eye and A told me to put my sunglasses on. Not sure what happened, but she fell. Took her a minute to recover, but the worst part (for her) was that she got a hole in her running tights. I almost told her "at least you'll have a cool story for later," but decided against it. We had to walk for a bit while she got herself back together, then off we went. Hit the next aid station and were told we were close (I'm guessing maybe a mile and a half was all we had left).
Another section of climbing on slick rock, and then we got to the volunteer where the first aid station had been, and we knew that we only had about a half mile to the finish. We really kicked it into high gear, had a strong finish, crossing the line together.

We finished under 3 hours, which is a LOT better than I thought we would. Moab always is screwy with gps, and showed about 12.4 miles when we crossed. For A's sake, she wanted 13.1 on her watch, so we decided that after we grabbed food we would run to the car and get the full mileage.

Garmin time - 3:05:57 (with extra run to the parking lot for mileage)
Garmin distance - 13.11
Elevation gain - 1,722'
Mile 1 - 15:22
Mile 2 - 16:20
Mile 3 - 15:18
Mile 4 - 12:32
Mile 5 - 13:30
Mile 6 - 13:39
Mile 7 - 13:39
Mile 8 - 14:52
Mile 9 - 13:58
Mile 10 - 13:21
Mile 11 - 14:57 (A's fall)
Mile 12 - 14:18
Mile 13 - 12:10
Mile 13.1 - 14:02
While we were debating if we had time to eat soup before getting on the road, we overheard a girl talking to a the guy giving out awards and he said Ariel got first. Huh, what? Turns out that A had won. The girl and her dad were saying, "but she just crossed." We had started in the last wave, and this girl (18 years old) had started in the first wave - thanks to the timing chips, A still got a win.
Took some quick pictures and then ran for the car. It was 3/4 of a mile (!!!) to the car, and I think that was the coldest part of the day (other than the start line).


  • I've run a LOT in Moab (this was 20 miles north of town) and this was BY FAR my favorite race course. I know that slick rock is inevitable in Moab, but this didn't have a ton, which I liked. The course, even with all the elevation gain, was very runnable and beautiful. I could tell even through the rain/wind/snow. I'd love to run this one again in better weather.
  • The course was VERY well marked. Again, I've run a lot out in Moab, and this was marked perfectly. Orange flagging, very good signage and every mile had a marker as well. A+ for this!
  • Aid stations had wonderful volunteers and had all the necessities. On a warmer day, you would just want to plan for the first 4.5 with no aid. Other than that, they were spaced a lot closer.
  • The scavenger hunt was fun! It wasn't as fun pulling out my phone (and for A, her camera) in the wind/cold/moisture, but it was fun, and the extra $10 went to "Trail Mix" a non-profit that builds/maintains trails.
  • Soft, gender specific shirts (actually, mine and A's are even different colors), plus we got a medal, pint glass (I think that might have been for the scavenger hunt) and a mug.
  • Post-race food - meh. We knew there would be no beer, and I was fine that. There was soup and corn tortillas with cheese and chips. That's it. I was under the impression there would be sodas and other snacks, but it was so cold we didn't really stick around anyway. We were, however, hoping that we wouldn't have to have more food until dinner, but that wasn't the case.
  • My real "only" complaint was having the people who go there first not having priority for parking. 
  • I absolutely loved this race. Nothing we could do about the weather, obviously, but we really had a great time. I'll be back for this one!!

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