St George Marathon: Stunning Desert Course and a Big BQ For Me

I finally did it! My 7th marathon, 10 years running, and my 51st race...I did it! I needed a 3:55 and blew it out of the water with a 28-minute marathon PR! I left all I had in the beautiful southern Utah mountains and enjoyed sharing this journey with my friends & fellow BQ'ers, Brandon and Carrie.

This is my favorite marathon EVER, hands down! The scenery was magnificent, which was a nice distraction from the burning legs caused by the persistent downhill running; which happens to be my favorite kind of running!

We got up at 3:00 a.m., boarded the buses to the mountain top at 4:00, arrived around 4:30 and then snuggled up around little campfires with mylar blankets we saved from past races. Between that and our extra throw-away clothing layers for warmth, we were fairly comfortable until the gun time at 6:45.

It was weird running the first 5k in the dark. Thankfully, the roads had no potholes! The asphalt there is like a track and feels kind of “bouncy” if that makes sense. It was awesome to run during the amazing sunrise.

The air was dry and the sun hot, without a cloud in the bright blue skies, as it topped out around the mid-’80s by the finish. There was zero humidity, so and I didn’t pour the usual sweat, as it seemed to evaporate as fast as I made it. I also got a nice one-sided sunburn on this straight point-to-point course with always to my left.

We hiked and climbed Zion National Park the two days before the race to acclimate to the thin air and high elevation. Unfortunately, that caused us to have sore legs going into the race. But, I still got my BQ with an impressive 28-minute PR and a 13-minute safety net for my Boston entry--a shoo-in!

If you can handle a net downhill marathon, this race will get you a great finish time! The gym I frequent has a few treadmills with a "downhill" option, so I trained to death on that thing and was so glad I did! The net downhill is around 2500 feet, with a 6-mile uphill climb from miles 7-12--that nearly did me in. The mile markers were dead on with my Garmin, a first, but there were also no turns to mess up the tangents.

My first half split was 1:50 and the second one 1:52, so I ran a very strong and consistent race, which was my plan. I did walk for about 30 seconds of each of the last 13 miles due to extreme bilateral hip and low back pain that I needed to ease up in order to keep moving. I shudder to think what kind of time I could have cranked out had it not been for those few minutes of "wuss factor" as Carrie calls it! I ran five miles in the 7:00's, which is something new to me the last few months and what I thought I'd never see out of myself. Miles: 3, 4, 6, 7, 16 and 21 to be exact!

This is a must-do race to add to your bucket list. It's hands-down, a very well run event. It’s a lottery and you can link your entry to your friend's entries so if one gets in, you all get in. There are 7500 runners, no half-marathon, and no congestion. It's the perfect field size, in my opinion. The roads are closed completely, there's not a car in sight. All you see is the pure beauty of the surrounding mountains and deserts.

Have I mentioned how much I love this race? The registration for 2013 Boston happened to still be open, so we scurried back to the condo and registered without a cool!