I saw signs advertising “Conquer the Mountain” and Suncrest Half Marathon last weekend while running the Porter Rockwell Trail. I decided to check this race out and signed up this week.
Right from the moment I checked out their site, I knew that this would not be a half marathon that I raced. It was going to be a matter of survival and a training run (or walk or crawl) more than anything.
The elevation profile for the race says it all – it was going to take my breath away.
Since I have never been in the Suncrest area before this race, I will be taking a lot of the course descriptions from the PDF document.
The race started at 7 a.m. with the half marathoners heading down Suncrest Drive to some trails and a fire road that lead to the Richmond Homes Development. At this point there were only a couple of other competitors behind me – so I figured I could just sit back and “enjoy” the race. The mile markers were totally off for the race, so I relied on my Garmin. Mile marker 1 occurred at 1.5 miles and mile marker 2 was at 2.4 miles – I was worried it would be a long course. Near the end they were occurring every .75 miles or so and it actually ended up being a little bit short of 13.1 miles (not that I cared).
After a couple of miles on trail we headed up the road again (there seemed to be a lot of “heading up” in this race) through a subdivision and then onto another jeep road and some single track. This portion of the race had some nice views of Utah county to enjoy. I probably should have stopped and taken some picture – but I was too busy struggling to breathe.
The uphills continued for a few miles until we passed the Deer Ridge Drive Bridge. This aid station actually had gummy bears and M&M’s and I loaded my pockets with fuel.
We ran on the roads in the subdivisions for a few more miles – this time with some pretty views of the Salt Lake Valley. You really couldn’t enjoy the downhills too much – because they meant that there would be more uphills ahead of you. On this side of the mountain there was a really enjoyable stretch of singletrack that I was able to cruise down and made the entire race worthwhile.
Unfortunately, the end of the trail meant a long climb back up Traverse Ridge Road to the start of the race and another looping section. After a few miles of road we were sent on the Suncrest Trail back up to just above the gummy bear aid station and the final section of road to the finish.
It was a nice race – small and well organized. The aid stations were well stocked, there were only a few turns where you had to wonder if you were going in the right direction (usually on roads) and they had lots of volunteers.
Will I do it again? Probably not. It was enjoyable to see new trails, but it is the hardest half marathon I have ever entered and not one I can even run half of. Still, all in all, I’m glad I took a chance on it.