Race Recap: Ogden Marathon
Disclaimer: As a new blogger, and a reader of blogs, I have seen several that give race recaps. This is a great idea! So, I am adding a section of races that I have run…and sort of some expectations that you might be able to take with you…both good and bad!
Back to the topic: The Ogden Marathon
My girlfriends and I were looking for a relatively close marathon that we could do on a weekend to try to Boston Qualify. We looked at Fargo, which many Billings residents have done before. I am sure I will try that one sometime, but I convinced my friends to run Ogden instead.
It is the third weekend in May, which is a great marathon for early spring training. We had some freezing cold long runs (Montana winter), and a few treadmill speed days, but,. for the most part, the training was cool in comparison to training for an early Fall marathon. So training wise, if you want something Spring, it is perfect timing.
It is on a Saturday—which for me is great. Most marathons are falling on Sunday’s I feel like, so the Saturday was a great change. We drove on Friday, went to the expo and picked up numbers, ran early on Saturday, and drove home that night We still had a day of our weekend.
Races are early. They all start at 7 a.m. They have a marathon, a relay, a half, and a 5k.
The relay looks interesting if you want something different. This relay, everyone runs a different length. It goes from longer to shorter. I am not sure on lengths, but if I remember correctly, the first runner ran close to nine miles, and by the end, the last runner ran a 5k. It seemed like a fun idea!
The price is relatively inexpensive. Right now, you could register for the full marathon for $65.
(this is at the beginning of the race)
So, I ran the marathon so I am going to pretty much go through it as I experienced it.
We woke up at 4 a.m. to catch the bus at 5 a.m. We took a yellow school bus to the course start. At the start, they had plenty of porta-potties to take care of business in a timely fashion. They also had fire pits to stand by to stay warm. It was genius! They had a place to drop off bags. If I have to complain, they had no refreshments at the start, which was fine because I packed things. But to someone who maybe was not as “experienced” maybe even just a water station would have been perfect. It is possible I did not see it too.
The race started on a paved road, and we went through various twists and turns that were covered in shady trees, long grass, and a babbling brook was next to me for the first few miles. It was serene and peaceful.
I am not sure how many ran, but I am sure they attract a few thousand people. There was always someone next to me throughout the race to run with or to offer friendly advice or encouragement. There were the crazy people in tutus (sorry if that is you…it seems nuts to me to run in that! I could never do it!), costumes, and even the men in kilts. It attracts the same sort of audience that most “big” marathons do.
Water stations were approximately every two miles at the start, and then they were every mile the further you went on in the race.
After following a windy road for about 12 miles, you turn and go up for pretty much the only hill in the race. It is very gradual, and nothing to be concerned about. It is not “heartbreak hill.” The rest of the course is downhill. The race even advertises to be a fast course and one of the best courses according to Runners World Magazine (this is actually where I found it and starting researching it to run).
After the hill, you turn and run into the half marathon start at Pineview Resivour. They have a huge banner, a huge group of cheering, and water and gel stop. This year Home Depot was the volunteer in charge (I don’t know if that is always the case), but they were so encouraging and energetic.
(this is where the half is…think of yourself running on the right)
From there, the marathon gets even better. It is even more scenic and beautiful. You run next to the beautiful reservoir for several miles, and then you drop into Zion Canyon. I heard from various people that they close the canyon just for the runners.
(I believe this is getting into the canyon..however, this is how most of the race is!)
The last half goes by FAST.
I was dying but found myself getting to mile markers quicker and quicker. They have more water stations as you get towards the end and other stations. They have a fruit station with oranges and bananas, gel station, gummy bear area, etc. They also have vaseline and medical care at stations. They really do have runners best interest at heart at these stations. At all of the stations, they also had smiling faces, cheering squads, and so many supporters. It was really amazing!
You are running into town the entire time,. but you know you are close when you get on a bike path. The path is beautiful and cuts right to downtown. You spend the last few miles on this path, and then turn and see the finish. You basically come out of the trees and see the finish line.
(this was the first male finsiher in 2018…you are coming into town from the mountains behind…but no worries…you do not climb those mountains!)
There are stands and a huge cheering squad to help you in. You can see it from about a half a mile behind, so that seems a little long, but it is also great because you can see the end.
Once you cross, you receive a finishers medal and various sponsors give you drinks and food and so forth. They have an expo at the end of the race in the park with different exhibits and sponsors. They have a live band, a beer garden, and massages.
(They also have a kid race and various other races that all use the same finish)
The other great thing about this race is the community. They love the marathon it seems. We got into town at 5 p.m. on a Friday night. We picked up our packet with no trouble and were greeted by volunteers, a live band, and various sponsors.
We checked into our hotel, the Hampton Inn , which I would recommend to anyone going for the marathon. It is directly down the street (maybe two blocks) from the marathon finish. The start busses were parked right in front. The location is prime. Additionally, they opened their complimentary breakfast early and really focused on runner foods for the breakfast. They offered bottled water in the lobby for the duration of our stay and even gave us a bigger room and extra beds if we needed them (rollaway). They were super friendly and would receive my highest review in their efforts to make our stay comfortable, but also our race a success.
We went to various restaurants on Friday night for a pre-race meal. We went to several places that were recommended, but all were full and had long waits. So, we stumbled upon a relatively new restaurant in the Bigalow Hotel. I think it is called The Bigalow Grill
It appeared to be remodeled. It had a great atmosphere and the staff was so friendly and helpful. They also were very supportive of our marathon goals and strived to provide the best service. The food was delicious, decent prices, and a great pre-race meal.
So, would I do it again? Definitely. I usually do “big” marathons (New York, Boston, Chicago, etc.) but this was one that I would run again.
If I am doing a completely honest review, I should include a few cons or things that I would change. Nothing is perfect, right? This race was pretty perfect, but just to be realistic, I will list a few things that I think could be little tweaks, but these might even just be personal preference.
My biggest complaint, if any, was on the bike path. There were people walking for fun (not race related at all), and it made it a little hard to maneuver around. I do not know if that path can be closed, but that would be the biggest hiccup in the race. I do remember having to maneuver around a double jogging stroller coming towards me, and I was tired and not wanting to break stride but had to go slightly off the path just to get around. This was only for the last few miles of the race.
This is really, my only complaint with the entire race. Everything else truly was great!
(One last disclaimer, I picked a mens small shirt when I registered and was glad that I did. The shirts were pretty small, especially the women’s. The women’s was cute (it was V-neck) but I would have looked like I was in shrink wrap in it. You can exchange shirts, but not until after your race.)
Has anyone else run this race? What do people think of St. George? I heard that St. George is the only rival to this race in terms of beauty and scenery. Has anyone done both?