You can shake their hands as you head to the start line. A huge flag is held up by a monster crane (the flag must be the size of my house.) 2 stealth bombers flew overhead right before the race started, looking like they would collide and then flying off to each side of us with a big WHOOSH! Guns went off, the amputees head out first (these guys are amazing!), then the rest of us. It was fairly cold at the start (around 40-45 degrees), but it sure got to be smoking hot before long. I wore this huge grey sweatshirt for about 5 miles, then ditched it as a throwaway at an aid station.
Total cumulative elevation gain/(loss): 2,829/(2,815) ft.
This might not be interesting to some people, but I like to document my pace per mile for this race. I like to look back and see how I did to see how I can improve.
1: 8:56 I decided I was going a little too fast (for me). I had a lot of caffeine in me. Pavement.
2: 9:10 I think the dirt road starts during this mile and continues until about mile 9. The first 6 miles are slightly downhill.
4: 9:13 I saw Darryll B. of the Tucson Trail Runners as he passed me. He is the only person at the race that I knew. He recognized me and said hi, although he was careful not to trip this time (remember Pemberton...)
8: 9:58 Beginning of the elevation gain.
10: 10:55 I am on the road now, heading straight uphill. There is a HUGE misting station on this road, which we pass back through on mile 19.
12: 11:31 We jump off the paved road and start on a trail/dirt road, but it is still uphill. I really need to work on the uphills. I'm terrible at them. I had to do some walking.
15: 8:38 Yep, I'm finally heading downhill. Feels great! I'm not able to keep up with a guy in front of me running with a 35 lb. pack. Holy cow.
17: 9:52 More uphill before getting back on the road.
19: 8:40 Back on the road heading downhill. I love the wall of 'marchers' headed uphill against us. They just cheer you on and it is so motivating! At this point, the runners are pretty spread out.
20: 10:00 Stopped to go to the bathroom, which I had been holding for quite a while. I was quick, though; only cost me about 30 seconds.
21: 11:51 Oh man, it starts uphill again as we veer off the pavement and head onto dirt/sand road.
22: 11:57 This is about where the sand pit (wash) is. I just couldn't run through that deep sand very well. Did a lot of walking.
23: 9:19 Out of the sand pit!! Woohoo!
24: 10:11 The wind is picking up. The forecast today was for 20 - 30 mph winds.
25: 11:27 Running into a gusty headwind. This race is cruel!
.9: 8:58 Into the chute and done! As I mentioned previously, my Garmin only calculated 25.9 miles, instead of 26.2.
Oh yeah, they also serve a real meal afterwards, either bratwurst on a hoagie or a burger and the fixin's. Yummy!
I'm already plotting and planning my strategy for next year. My goal was 4:15, so I was happy with 4:19. Even if I had run 4:15, I still would be 9th place female. So...next year I'll most likely be back. This race course is so hard, with the hills, sand and heat, and I have to conquer it! It is my nemesis.