Marathon 56 - Provo, UT Story*Training*Injury*Schedule*Spectators*Statistics

The second in my spring series got off to a rocky start.

I had expected to be traveling to and/or from Houston for work, but they couldn't get their act together, so a round of flight changes had me arriving early and leaving late for this Saturday Race.

The trip into Salt Lake was easy, though, and I found a place to stay. The early fight and time change along with the remnants of the previous week's stomach flu had me asleep by 7.

Packet pickup was at a mall, in a closed anchor store (I think a Macy's). Understaffed, there were a few venders -- mostly stores in the mall, number and shirts. I grabbed my stuff, then volunteered for about an hour.

The race is a point to point, with the runners bussed from the finish to the South Fork canyon, so we left the 55 degrees of Provo for 20 degrees and an hour and a half wait. They had set up camp fires throughout the area, and the runners all huddled around them trying to stay warm.

A beautiful canyon start, the first few miles where as pretty a run as I have seen.

The 500 or so marathoners launched first, right on time, with 5000 half marathoners 10 minutes behind us. Steep down hill, my first mile was in 9 minutes flat, but I was already looking for a port a potty by the first mark, unsure if the colon discomfort was only gas or something, uh, worse. I mistakenly passed the first one I came to, at around 3, as I was feeling a bit better. This was a mistake

We followed the river and mountains for the next miles, onto walking paths the reminded me of the marathon in the parks (MD).

There were no mile marks between 1 and 9. This is really problematic, especially in a downhill segment, and a rookie mistake on the race management team. We'll mention that one.

There were plenty of signs along the course, with "PCM" or "Provo City Marathon" and the race director had said that the course was well marked, and each turn was manned.

By mile 5 or 6 I was looking for a place in the woods to duck into, when I spied a campground down the ravine we were running on with a port a potty. I cut thru the woods down the 30 degree slope, and was correct in my fear that it was something worse than gas.

Back up the slope and onto the course, my relief was only temporary, and I again was looking constantly for a place to go.

Mile 9 has the first posted mile mark (after 1), and I wasn't doing too badly time wise. Passing 13, I was dead on a 10 minutes pace (I cant believe this, based on how I felt), and once again disappointed that the port a potties were all on the half marathon side, after the shoot, with huge lines. after a mile or so, i darted into a burger king with some explosive out gassing reminiscent of Krakatoa.

Out of the Burger king and back on the course, what is the first thing I run into?


A 90 degree unmanned turn, with the race marking listed as "The Ragnar Relay Series." We need to mention that to the RD

Even by 14, it was pretty lonely out there -- runners visible behind me, but not in front, so I was pretty confused for a while, and after a while I got to a water stop, and was sure I was on the course still. Mile marks was intermittent to say the least -- 15, 16, 17 -- then nothing for miles. I finally saw some road markings at 18 "PCM 18", that held thru 22 -- when there were 2 of them "PCM 22's" that is, a half mile apart.

This part of the course was more like I expected Utah to look -- rural and agro. Flat. Dry.

There was a complex multiple double back part, that had us seeing the course with runners looping back and crossing over. these were very lonely for the mid to back of the pack.

By this time my splits were an atrocious 13+, and some quick math put me still within the sub 5 hour mark if I could keep my act together. That's when the 5 hour pacer passed me. Arg.

I passed a water stop, and saw that the had oranges, bananas, gels and medical supplies, on the other side of the volunteers. Behind them. Like it was for them. Like we had to pass the water stop table, walk around it, and get to the food. Geeze.

I was able to hold a decent pace while running -- but only for a minute or so.. Still I finished strong, but disappointed with my 5'06