RACE REPORT: Revel Rockies Half Marathon, Denver CO – June 11, 2017

18 06 2017

On Sunday, June 11, I ran the half marathon portion of this race which features both a 26.2 and 13.1 mile distance. According to the event’s website (www.runrevel.com):
“The REVEL Rockies Half Marathon course offers the best of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, including towering pines, beautiful canyons, mountain lakes, and a gently flowing stream.”  And that is absolutely true.  But let me backtrack to the beginning.

marathon start

I registered back in November of 2016 when cost was lowest at $79 for the half and $99 for the full, which is fairly typical for events of this size that offer parking with buses to/from the Start/Finish, bag drop, generous swag and food with beer in the post-race area.  Prices eventually went up to $109 and $129.

Email communication from the event that showed up sporadically over the following 7 months was informative and not at all spammy.

As time drew closer to Race Day, I booked a room at the Lakewood Hampton, one of the recommended properties, that featured a special event discount and offered a race day bag breakfast as well as a shuttle directly to the Start Area (neither of the latter of which I chose to use).  They have a fridge and microwave all rooms, and both are destination race amenities that I’ve come to rely upon.

Packet pickup was located at Steinhauer Field House on the campus of the School of Mines in Golden on Saturday from 10:00am to 7:00pm.  It was a well run and delightfully small affair that provided bib chip verification, shirt size swapping and the usual assortment of vendors, massagers and back-crackers but also an outfit that offered B12 shots and IV rehydration.

Race Day Parking was located at Bandimere speedway where marathoners could park to board buses from 3:15-4:15 AM to their start 10,000 feet up in the mountains, and half-marathoners could ride from 4:15-5:15 to their venue at 7500 feet above sea level on the same road.  I chose to drive to the parking lot and bus to the Start rather than use the Hampton Shuttle because I wanted to leave the post-race area at a time of my choosing.  The Hampton Shuttle was offered only once at 4:30 am for drop off and then every hour on the hour for return to the hotel.  I could picture myself finishing at one minute after the hour and then waiting for 59 minutes, and didn’t like that option.

IMG_2338The start area, a parking lot for some kind of business plaza, was a cool 58 degrees when I arrived and crowded with Mylar wrapped runners all vying for a spot in line for one of the 30 or so porta potties.  The line moved swiftly and there was plenty of toilet paper the entire time.  There was a table nearby with water and Powerade but nothing in the way of solid refreshment.  The goody bag from the Expo did have a protein bar in it which I noticed some people enjoying (but I was not one of them since I don’t like protein bars).  Music was playing, a small countdown clock was ticking down and the gear truck was waiting to transport our drop bags to the finish line in the post race venue.  Seating was extremely limited and people were clustered on stairs, perched atop decorative boulders and some also just lying on the pavement.  Hopefully they will change this for next year’s runners because I was not a fan.  Of course, that could be due to the early hour as I do tend to be grumpy when rolling out of bed at 3:30 am.

Starting horn having blared, we ran uphill to begin this overall downward-trajectory course.  Unlike the mountain half I did last year in Utah which dropped quite steeply for the first few miles, this was a rolling course with an overall drop of over 1000 feet from start to finish.  At one point as I looked up in dismay to see the road peaking for the third time, I heard someone talking about it who said “oh yes, there are three uphill climbs in the first 2-1/2 miles and then it’s mostly downhill.”  That I was glad to have eavesdropped instead of tuning out because the air still seemed pretty thin on those uphill segments even though I’d been in town a couple of days already and had run a 5k the previous morning.

maps

Per the Revel website: “The Half Marathon begins at the intersection of Lewis Ridge Road and Evergreen Parkway in the beautiful community of Evergreen. The first three miles of the course include broad views of the valley and Elk Meadow Park as runners head off into the sunrise. The course leaves Evergreen Parkway at Douglas Park Road, eventually turning into Meadow Drive.”  And that we did.  After following a local street with honking cars and waving passengers happily greeting us, we turned into a neighborhood and eventually out into what seemed like mountain wilderness on a rolling course that turned and wound its way along as the sun rose in the sky and the morning chill succumbed to welcoming warmth.
IMG_2341

As is usual for me, I started at the back of the pack and stayed there alternating my 3:1 walk/run 14:00/mile pace.  I had hoped to go a bit faster with a downhill course but, given the 25% less oxygen for Little Old Flatlander Me, didn’t have the wind for it on the uphill portions however gradual they were.  I was also trying out a gel-free nutrition strategy by eating chunks of white chocolate and Belvita protein cookies which proved to be inadequate, as did my breakfast of cold spaghetti (and not enough of it).  Nonetheless, it was an enjoyable struggle or, as I often say of challenging terrain, a “grueling ecstasy.”

aid sta

taken from event website

Aid stations were frequent and plentiful, although I wish the ones with fruit were located closer to the end when I was hungrier.  The volunteers were all cheerful, friendly and enthusiastic.

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Toward the end I kept seeing another runner (whose name I will never know) as she alternately surged ahead and fell behind me.  At one point I heard her saying “I can do this, I can do this”, so I started encouraging her every time we were apace with one another.  Both of us were tired — and slow and probably about the same age — so every time I lent support to her, I was also giving some to myself.  I don’t like “running with” someone and chattering away the entire time because it limits much of the freedom that I feel when running.  But this felt good and boosted my energy in the last few miles.

Soon we reached the town of Morrison and after rounding a couple of bends, the Finish Line was in sight.

me at finish

Upon crossing the line, we were handed gigantic medals and supposedly cool towels (which I never saw) and then passed through into the Post Race Party Zone where we were each allowed once slice of pizza, one slice of pie and a Lagunitas beer.  It was extremely crowded and there were long lines for everything.  Gear pickup and porta potties were towards the back of this area and navigating the throng was pretty much the theme of the experience.  Again, there was really no place to sit.  A tent featured instant printout of each runner’s stats which is always a nice perk, and there also various other tents and booths for vendors and runner photos.  Down a flight of stairs toward the creek was another area that was too crowded for me to investigate.  I never did see the beer vendor but that was okay.  After eating and picking up my drop bag, the next goal was to get back to the shuttle and my car so I could find a place to relax.  There was no sign or other guidance as to which way to go to find the shuttles, so I learned by asking another runner.  About a half-mile or so later, I was boarding a bus back to Bandimere Speedway to pick up my rental car and head back to the hotel.

denver race blingOverall I think, despite what I felt were underwhelming pre- and post-race venues, REVEL Rockies was a nice race and one that I would do again if I lived in the area.  The course was geographically stunning, the shirt and other swag (including gloves and a Mylar blanket which I ditched as the weather warmed up) as well as free race photos and multiple videos were quite generous, and the amenities were plentiful enough to keep us comfortable every step of the way.  Being a 50-stater, this was a one off so I won’t be back to run it or probably any other long distance race in Colorado but I do recommend it, with a moderate degree of enthusiasm, to others looking for a half (or a full) in that state.

And that’s it from me for now.  See ya next Finish Line!

Race Finish Rear

 


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One response

18 06 2017
Tammi Lewis

Congratulations on a great race!!

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