After driving almost 2 hours to Laramie to crash at the home of a Laramie Police Officer I met during a two-week-long training in Kentucky (thank you Andrew!!), I was standing at the starting line at 6am with about 150 other tough-looking runners. I knew that a handful of them were there to run the Rocky Mountain Double (turnaround at the marathon finish and run it all again, for a total of 53.4 miles!), and many were there to run the half-marathon, but I couldn’t tell who was who…everyone looked like die-hard runners capable of doing the double.
After standing in the already noticeable wind and 30-degree temps listening to the race director share a prayer and a moment of silence for Memorial Day, we were off! This was an off-road, no-frills, hilly marathon, at altitude. Total ascent = 1500 ft., total descent = 1500 ft…unfortunately, most of the descent came first. The lowest elevation was at the turnaround point of this out-and-back course. Although the skies were sunny, and the temp got up to almost 65-degrees, the winds kicked up to around 60mph. When it was a headwind, it made it feel like I was actually going backwards on some of the hill-climbs. When it was a tailwind, it just made the air feel still and warm…I was actually hoping to feel a breeze.
Some parts of the course were very scenic, mostly in the Medicine Bow National Forest area. But some of the course was just exposed plains running along the frontage road of I-80. Runners were required to bring their own water, and there was a total of 3 aid stations on the course (we passed two of them twice, for a total of 5 refill opportunities). The only “fans” were the few people we passed who were camping in the National Forest area. I think we woke them up, as they seemed to wonder what the hell we were doing.
The race motto is, “Where the race director promises nothing, and he delivers.” But despite the tough course and no-frills approach (maybe because of it?), I had a great time, and finished well. Even though my finish time of 5:12 was my second slowest ever…on this course, on this day, it was good enough for 30th overall and 2nd in my age-group! My first “podium” finish!
After dragging myself up the hill to the finish (which was the same flour-line in the dirt we started at…next to the race director’s RV), I enjoyed the finish line expo consisting of a bag of chips. No, not for each runner, just a bag of chips. Somehow, it was a charming sendoff for my 2-hour drive home.
Now…time for some rest.