Yesterday I paced the 2013 Layton Syracuse Marathon. I originally got an entry into this race by saving the Race Directors bacon at the Provo Moonlight Midnight Half Marathon. He gave me another free race entry after I also helped back of the pack runners survive snafus in the Legacy Moonlight Midnight Half Marathon. This latest race was two weeks after the Park City Marathon and Walter offered me a chance to pace the 6:30 cutoff, so figured it was a good reason to run slower than usual. I was concerned that I would overdo things and needed to have the legs to pace 22.5 miles of the Wasatch 100 the next Friday. (Found out later in the day yesterday that my racer chose to drop the race, so I didn’t need to be concerned).
I had positive hopes for the race until the night before when I found out I was the only one of the pacers with correct race information since I was the only one officially entered in the race. This caused some consternation among the pacers and quick changes of plans.
Race morning had me up in Layton at 4 a.m. to pick up my race packet. Gosh – turns out they didn’t even give me my actual race packet, just a t-shirt and bib. I would have liked one of the nice bags that other runners got.
Got my pacing band from Andy and Walter zoomed up right before we had to catch the last bus out with the pacing signs. There were only four of us pacing the marathon, so a smaller group than normal.
It was warm out on the island when the bus dropped us, so I took off my extra shirt and threw it in the drop truck and just hung out with my singlet on top. Spoke with Joe Coles the Race Director and e confirmed he wanted me to stay at 6:30 pace.
After the race started, I was alone at the back of the pack within a mile. Stayed on track with my pace band and just enjoyed the silence on the island. It was three or four miles until the sun came up enough to see much around me. The aid stations were well stocked and the volunteers were enthusiastic. Just past Frary Peak I saw about 100 or more buffalo on the left side of the road ranging all over the hill. Earl the buffalo nodded in passing.
Moved onto the causeway around mile 9. At mile 10 the sweep vehicles caught up to me. I asked them to call Joe and ask him if I should stay on pace or move up to the last racer – who was more than a mile ahead. They called in and told me to move up. It took about 8.5 miles, but I gradually closed the distance and caught up to Albert. At the point I caught up to him, he was pretty well walking his way in. It was a hot day and no shade, so we made sure to pour lots of water over us. I spent most of the day leap frogging the sweep vehicles and we started joking with each other.
Spent a couple of hours encouraging Albert. He had never run over 12 miles and was struggling. His back and hip were spasming and he had to quit trying to run at all. When I caught him we were 12 minutes ahead of 6:30 pace and the time kept slowing down. At the mile 23 aid station, I told him I had to move ahead to stay on pace and we said goodbye. Turned out not to be as long as I thought until I saw him again.
We passed an intersection about a half mile past that and I wondered if I should turn left there, but the race course had been well marked and there was no turn sign, so I kept running up Gentile Street. No 24 mile marker. I began to get concerned. About ¼ mile past before the next intersection I started questioning the course and turned back. Once I met up with Albert we started talking and turned around and tried to find someone to tell us which turn to take. No one knew. We finally brought up the Ellison Park on my phone and decided to turn around again and just make our way to the park. It was a hot day and we were really starting to get dehydrated. Even as we hit Ellison Park we saw no signs for the course, but saw the finish line and worked our way up to it. We ended up coming in backwards. My Garmin said 26.3 – so I was satisfied. The Race Director asked me what happened and we told him the course markers had been pulled. He apologized, we got our medals and I left.
At that point, there was water, oranges and some peanut butter sandwiches at the finish line. No sports drink? No other food?
I was relatively impressed with the organization prior to the 23 mile point, but my experience after that soured me on participating in On Hill Events again.
Oh – and I took 3rd in my age group, but because they were taking everything down, I didn’t get know to get my age group reward and the web site says that you have to get them at the race or you are out of luck.
One day later and I am not really sore. I am still battling dehydration from those last miles in the sun without anything to drink.
Time to move on. Another finish on my list and more long runs down. Next up – Big Cottonwood Half Marathon and then St. George Marathon.