We get back in the saddle and run the Spirit Trail Race (marathon).
Race Report: Spirit Trail Race
The Spirit Trail Race is a wonderful race and one we would highly recommend. The trail is mostly smooth single track, with a bit of technical running, and then minor sections of jeep roads. The views are typical rocky mountain wonderful, and make the run rather enjoyable.
The weather was fairly mild. We both wore light running jackets for the first hour or two. It was a little chilly, even with a jacket on, but not terrible. We never really got super hot, but it was fairly warm after the noon hour. I suspect we could have shaved a touch of weight by leaving the jackets behind. I am not sure it would have helped at all.
We paced conservatively in the first half; knowing the second half was our kind of race (downhill). We left the first aid station 15 minutes ahead of the cutoff, but finished an hour before the cutoff. That pacing seems to have worked, as we passed three or four people at the midway point. We did have one racer catch and pass us with four miles left. She was full of grit, vocally wanted the race done, and just hit a pace we didn’t care to. Good on her! For us, though, our pacing was just right. We finished strong, and feeling good, even with the course “running long”.
Ok, so you pretty much know that a trail race will not have a millimeter-perfect race distance. The advertised distance is a ballpark, and more often than not, the course will be long. This course was advertised at 26.6 miles, and we expected that to be short of actual. Annie’s watch clocked 27.5 miles, and who knows how far we actually ran. The real point here – after leaving the last “full” aid station, we geared down for a spell. Looking back, we probably could have pushed harder in this section and shaved a minute or two. I suspect it would have been six of one and half a dozen of another. That said, if you go into this race thinking it is going to be a dead-on marathon distance – you might struggle-bus that last mile.
Race distance aside, the course profile is a tad misleading too, but in a good way. The stretch between the first and second aid stations was much more runnable than we expected. Surprisingly, this might be where we picked up the most time. The climb coming out of aid station two is steady but nothing absurd. That climb is shorter than you expect and the accompanying downhill is highly runnable. Truth be told, after the peak at mile ~15, it is pretty much downhill coasting to the finish. There is the occasional bump in the road, but the second half of this race is forgiving.
One piece of advice – plan ahead more than you normally do. This race has three “full” aid stations and two water drops. We brought more food than we typically do, but even still, we nearly ran out of calories. The full aid stations had a fairly limited supply of solid carbs. Pretzels, chips, pickles, bananas, and Oreos were about all the solid food to be found. On top of that, the amount of these items was a little sparse. We were back of the pack but had five or so runners behind us. At every aid station, I specifically limited what I took, thinking, “there just won’t be much left for the last runners”.
At the last full aid station, the race director specifically told us, “there are four people behind you.” I looked at the table and it was not a buffet, but enough for four more stragglers. Good, I thought, at least they will have plenty, regardless of what they packed. In a fantastic twist of irony, it turns out (according to the unofficial results) we finished #DeadLast. But wait! We didn’t finish dead last. The unofficial results were replaced with the official results, and three of the four runners behind us at that last aid station did finish. Huzzah! That said, without the bumper crop of calories in our packs, we would have been very hungry at the finish line.
The only other small negative was the timing chip system. This race used a padded anklet. The timing device had to be around your ankle at the start, and within one minute, Annie and I both took them off our ankles. I can’t imagine how uncomfortable it would have been after hours of wear. It was an easy thing to address, but it was one more thing to think about while on a long run.
All and all, this was a great race and one well worth checking out.
Race Website: https://www.spirittrailrace.com/
Lowest Point: 7,249 feet
Highest Point: 9,354 feet
Approximate Gain: 3,236 feet
Approximate Descent: 3,236 feet
Annie's Finishing Time: 7:28:26
Scott's Finishing Time: 7:28:26
View all race results by clicking here.