Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Copper Mountain Trail Half Marathon (Race Recap)

Sunday, July 1
Copper Mountain, CO
Half Marathon #64
Colorado Half #11
Weather - HOT (it was 85 degrees at the finish), SUNNY

L registered me for the Copper Mountain half marathon a few days before the event. I think we figured we could suffer on difficult trail runs two days in a row instead of separate on two days?

We drove up in the morning and got there a little over an hour before the race was supposed to start. We parked SUPER close and found the packet pick up easily. There had been practically no information on the website, so we wanted to find out if there was a cut off. I was not very optimistic about yet ANOTHER trail race at 10,000 feet. Luckily, we were told that there was no cut off and we could "mosey" as slow as we wanted. Good to know. We head back to the car since there is still forever until the race starts.

With 45 minutes to go, we decide to find bathrooms. There are no port-o-potties, but there are very nice indoor bathrooms. Score. That took about 3 minutes. Head back over to packet pick up since there was no additional info about the course in our packet. Told that there is "plenty of support" but there will be a mandatory meeting before the start. Back to the car.

Fifteen minutes before the start, we grab our stuff, hit the bathrooms one more time, and then line up at the start. NOT a big race. The instructions are freaking complicated. The race director is essentially giving us  point by point directions. Who can remember all that? All I know is that we were going to be doing a few lollipop loops, circling through the starting area a few times and to "follow the signage" so you don't get lost. Woman next to us tells us she has run a few races put on by this group and that she has gotten lost on the course before. Good to know. Briefly ran into Heather from Runners Roost before the start. She lined up closer to the front.

We are practically in the back, and this is half marathon AND 5k runners
So the course is INSANE. Obviously. I mean, Copper Mountain is a SKI RESORT. So what looks like chair lifts in the picture, ARE chair lifts. We ran... oh, about 5 minutes (and by run, I mean, slowish jog) and then we started the walking. This was going to be yet another day of "the longest walk ever."

The sun was blazing hot, and look at L's sunburn!
So the first few miles of the course were going UP the mountain. There was mostly walking. And complaining. I know, I signed up for this, but wow, it was hot and sunny. I did not feel sore, I just felt tired. Thankfully, L was planning on my same game plan - "walk the steeps, run the flats and downhills." There were some sections that were shaded and pretty flat. Not nearly as technical as what we had done at Leadville, much more packed dirt than loose rocks. There were, however, more tree roots, so I was watching my feet a lot to make sure I didn't face plant. We got to the first aid station at mile 2 and I overheard the volunteer at the aid station saying that a group had made a wrong turn. Already? Where? How?

There were some nifty bridges to cross:

And some really nice shaded areas (did I mention the sun was BEATING down??):

And the views were amazing:

More bridges:

Single track along the mountain:

And then, sometimes, the race director just makes up trails:

This was the steepest EVER
But then we got to run by a pretty golf course:

So the first 6 miles were definitely the worst. There was a lot of uphills, which I was pretty tired of. I like running trails, but it is so much more "work" to be careful and watch your feet while running. Mile 6 we run through the village and then we head up towards Vail Pass. Some of the runners weren't sure where the trail went, but we had sorta listened to the instructions and knew that we needed to "turn right at the bridge instead of left" - so we ended up passing people only because they didn't believe we knew where we were going. Ha. Like Leadville, I had only briefly looked at the profile and didn't know what we would be running. It was a really nice bike path, but a VERY LONG gradual 3ish mile incline.

This part of the course was totally exposed. It was SO HOT. And it was not closed to "traffic" - so there were TONS of cyclists out. I never noticed that most cyclists do NOT say "on your left" or ring their little bell. We had a lot of them yell at us for running two across, but I feel like they should let us know they are approaching and we would happily move to single file. Anyway, that was annoying.

Somewhere around mile 8, we already see L's boyfriend heading back (he is in the red shorts):

Wow. He sure is speedy! We pretty much walked 85% of the up on the way up the pass. I was ok with that.

Approaching the turn around and I swear there was a half eaten carcass on the side of the path. I couldn't tell what it was, but it was really gross. Then we got to the unmanned turnaround. Whee!!

It really DID feel like downhill then on the way back. The rest of the course was pretty great. We were running at a pretty decent pace, but we were both tired from Leadville, so we did stop every 10 minutes or so to walk for a minute to stretch our legs. And thankfully, there were actually people behind us, so we were NOT going to be the last ones done. Phew.

I thought this sign was hilarious

We somehow managed to run in to the finish. After crossing the line, I tried to tell the race director (who was handing out our medals and pint glasses) that the course had measured short. His response - "yeah, that's what people have been saying." So, was it short or not?? Annoying. I went to find L's boyfriend while L used the bathroom. We quickly grabbed our free beer and chatted with Heather and her boyfriend for a few minutes before taking our finisher picture:

Wandering around after the finish we had a few ladies say they remembered us from the course. I think me specifically. Apparently, we (I) complain a lot. Huh...

Bib #582
I think official places are off since at least a dozen people were behind us.
Official Time - 3:00:58 (no chip)
Overall Place - 86/87
Division Place - 13/14
Garmin Time - 3:00:31
Mile 1 - 16:55
Mile 2 - 16:04
Mile 3 - 11:26
Mile 4 - 17:40
Mile 5 - 17:02
Mile 6 - 15:01
Mile 7 - 15:45
Mile 8 - 16:05
Mile 9 - 15:45
Mile 10 - 12:04
Mile 11 - 11:03
Mile 12 - 11:10
Mile 13 - 11:26

Those hills felt huge. For real.

Of note:
  • My watch lost satellite sometime before we even hit mile three. The course measured VERY short (like 3/4 mile short as a result) - so all my splits are off too.
  • I got a size XS shirt that is big enough to be a men's medium. I can't figure out what races bother to do tech shirts if they aren't going to do gender specific ones. I will never wear this.
  • I love that I got a medal AND a pint glass. The medal is generic for the whole race series, so I imagine I will get the exact same one when I run the Denver Trail half marathon in September. But the pint glass was specific to the race. Weird. (I'd totally post pictures of them individually but blogger INSISTS on uploading them sideways. For no reason).
  • The course WAS confusing, but I did not get lost, nor did I ever FEEL like I was lost. So that was good.
  • Aid stations were good - but most were unmanned. That was a little unnerving. But they had Gatorade and water, some sort of chomps, gels. The aid station in the middle of Vail Pass had COOKIES AND GRAHAM CRACKERS. Those were the best ever. However... I really hate it when the only trash areas are literally AT the aid station. I don't like having to stand there to drink my Gatorade and water. I want to walk and do it.
  • The few volunteers that were out were GREAT. Super friendly.
  • Pretty much the least informative website EVER.
  • I wore the Run Pretty Far "Firecracker" tank and the Running Skirts "super star" skirt. So festive. We got lots of comments on our outfit. I was so out of it that I never did get a good picture of it. Also, I don't recall seeing photographers on the course. 
  • I wore the Mizuno Cabrakans again. Had the website provided more information (only about 5.5 miles were actual trail) - I probably wouldn't have worn these. They are AWESOME on trails, but just "ok" on asphalt.
  • I will not do this one again :D


  1. I'm so jealous that you have so many amazingly beautiful races so close to where you live!

    P.S. I agree about the cyclists - they NEVER call out that they are behind you! And then they get all snotty when they can't pass you! HELLO!!! I do not have eyes in the back of my head.

  2. The elevation chart looks scary and let alone you did a marathon right before. Crazy!! Congrats :)


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