Thursday, November 10, 2016

Backcountry Wilderness Half Marathon (Race Recap)

Saturday, November 5
Highlands Ranch, CO
Half marathon #157
Weather - overcast and warm
This was my 4th time running the Backcountry Wilderness half marathon down in Highlands Ranch. I had registered back in April for a mere $50. Having run this race before, I knew it was risky to register for a November trail race, but I went for it anyway. Heather decided to join in this year, since she had missed last year.

A had spent the night with a friend, so it was easy to be out the door by 7:15 and parked around 8:00. The line for packet pick-up was a little long, so I got in line for that first. I saw Lisa while in line and we chatted for a bit. On the way to the Runners Roost tent I saw an Orange Mud tent??? I have been an ambassador for Orange Mud for a few years now and have never had the opportunity to meet Josh (owner and innovator, recently moved to the Denver suburbs).
Me and Josh (this was actually taken post-race)
We talked for a few minutes, then I of course had to get through the bathroom line. I dropped my stuff off at the car and found Heather at the Roost tent.
Decided to start in the back of wave 3 and hope for the best. After completing the October barre challenge I had taken some days off and my legs had felt really good on my last few training runs. SADLY THAT DID NOT TRANSFER OVER INTO MY RACE. (This was probably foreshadowing of the plague that I would later be sick with on Monday).

Anyway, the first mile is on pavement and has a relatively steep hill. I was telling Heather that walking up the hill was allll part of the plan. What was NOT part of the plan was all the walking we would end up doing throughout the race. Dang.
Somewhere around mile 2.5 or 3
The course is not technical, and it's actually pretty fun to run, when your legs are up to it. There are only three aid stations on the course, but I carried my Orange Mud handheld and had plenty of fluids. It was surprisingly warm on the course, especially through the first couple aid stations. When we got on the single track section around mile 8, I unfortunately got stuck in front of two women that talked NON-STOP about baby showers and being pregnant and planning for their baby. It was pretty much torture. I finally slowed down and jumped off the trail just so I wouldn't have to hear it anymore.
Single track leading up to the last aid station
The last aid station is at mile 11 and I remembered that it was a nice downhill until the finish (except for that horrible hill at the very end). Unfortunately, neither one of us really had anything in the tank. We were running (slowly), but neither of us felt great.
Photo taken by a teammate
I did run up the whole hill to the finish, although Heather smoked me to the actual finish line. A very disappointing finish time for me, 25 minutes slower than last year, womp womp womp.

Official Time - 2:43:18
Overall Place - 668/820
Gender Place - 319/435
Division Place - 123/158
Garmin Time - 2:43:21
Garmin Distance - 12:96 miles
Mile 1 - 11:53
Mile 2 - 13:27
Mile 3 - 11:38
Mile 4 - 13:53
Mile 5 - 13:13
Mile 6 - 13:03
Mile 7 - 11:35
Mile 8 - 12:29
Mile 9 - 11:11
Mile 10 - 16:08
Mile 11 - 13:18
Mile 12 - 11:27
Mile 13 - 10:33


  • This is a great event. I've been lucky to have had great weather three out of four years. If I am in town, I will run this one again for sure (and register early for a fantastic price).
  • Course is very well marked, no issues getting lost on this one.
  • Three aid stations, all had plenty of volunteers, water and Nuun. I don't recall if there was food or not. I used only one package of Honey Stinger chews all day.
  • The race shirt is super cute - long sleeve with the logo on the front, sponsors and course map on the back. 
  • Last year we got a coffee mug in our swag bag (and I use it every morning for my cup of coffee). This year we got a glass - not a pint glass, almost looks like a mason jar. Super cute.
  • The medal is awesome, and doubles as a bottle opener!
  • They had Flippin' Flapjacks (which is always great), and beer from Living the Dream brewery (also good).
  • The only "bad" part of this race is that there is no assigned parking lot for use. In the first year I ran we were able to park at the neighboring rec center, but that has not been allowed the last few years. Parking is in residential neighborhoods and can be frustrating, so allow extra time so you don't have to park really far away.
  • There were more port-o-potties this year, which has been an issue in the past.
  • Definitely would recommend, I'll likely return next year!


  1. I go back and forth on whether I want to do this one. I read all of your recaps of it! I think next year I will sign up. I have never carried water while racing - would I be stupid to try and do the race without it?

    1. It's a fun race, especially if you like running trails! When I train, normally, I very often will run 6-7 miles with no water and be fine. With that said, I personally have run with water every time I have run this race and used it. You've got a year - practice with a small handheld?

      On the other hand, if you can easily run 4-5 miles on a trail with no water and feel fine, than the three aid stations would probably suffice.

      Come out and run!


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