Sunday, September 21, 2014

A (Guest) Big Cottonwood Recap & a GIVEAWAY

Remember when I gave away a free entry to Big Cottonwood?  Well, it was a little hard to imagine what it would be like because I had never run it.  All I knew about it and other Revel races is that they are fast, downhill and have beautiful scenery.

Well, I have been seeing the reports pour in about Revel Rockies AND Big Cottonwood and I am in awe.  Fantastic reports about each of these races by all!  I haven't read a bad review yet.  But don't take my word for it...I thought I would let you meet Fiauna from Run.Read.Radiate and my winner of the Cottonwood giveaway!  She agreed to recap her Half Marathon experience at Big Cottonwood.  Read on...
The good people at Revel sure know how to throw a party. The Big Cottonwood Marathon and Half Marathon last weekend was one of the best races I’ve ever run.

It started with the expo the day before the race held at the South Town Expo Center. The venue was huge and easy to find. Inside, runners were greeted by friendly and enthusiastic volunteers who congenially pointed us in the right direction and kept packet pickup running smoothly. There were vendors selling everything from GU and Amphipods to necklaces and headbands—something for everyone. I bought a sterling silver necklace to commemorate this awesome event.

I got up at 3:30 a.m. the next morning and my sister, Mindy, and I drove down to Cottonwood Heights on the dark and lonely freeway. Parking was awesome--volunteers ushered us right into a parking stall in a well-lit parking terrace. We got out of the car and walked with the excited, if not energized crowd to the buses. This is where I said goodbye to Mindy--she was pacing the marathon while I was trying out my speed on the half.

I got on the 4:50 a.m. bus and we were on our way. During the ride up the canyon, I chatted with a nice lady from Michigan, currently living in St. George, Utah. All 50 states and several countries were represented in this race. That certainly added to the excitement.

We got off the bus at a camp ground. In the dark. In the cold. Did I mention it was dark? And cold? I believe the low temperature was around 35 degrees. At any rate, it felt like winter up there--and I am not a fan of winter, especially in September.

There were literally tons of port-a-potties. Clean toilets. Awesome! 

This part was not awesome. The race was supposed to start at 7:00. We had been told that the last buses would leave at 5:30 (marathon) and 5:45 (half). Apparently everyone decided to wait until the last minute and catch the latest buses. Subsequently, there weren't enough buses to get everyone up to the start on time. Oh, except for those of us who caught the earlier buses. We were stuck waiting in the cold, dark camp ground for an extra 30 minutes. The race directors did include Mylar blankets and gloves in our race bags. Life saver! Despite the blanket and knit gloves, my feet became numb in the cold. When we finally did start running it felt as if I had blocks of ice instead of feet for the first three miles.
The miles flew by due to the sharp downhill grade. There were photographers here and there along the course and I made sure I smiled and hammed it up for the camera. Aid stations were well spaced and staffed by those same enthusiastic volunteers. They cheered and really helped us keep going.

At mile 10 of the Big Cottonwood Half Marathon the course exits the beautiful canyon and continues on city streets. Up hill. The marathoners split off and go a different direction for several miles of an out-and-back course.

My pace slowed considerably and I had to remind myself to just keep moving. It's a straight shot to the finish line and the whole way is lined with cheering spectators. And I have to say that the police personnel and volunteers along the route who were cheering us on and encouraging us really helped get me to the finish line with a smile on my face.

The finish line was AMAZING! Once we crossed the line, volunteers immediately offered you your medal and a cold, wet towel. That towel = perfection. There was plenty of cold water, soda (diet Coke after a race??? Yes, please!), pizza, macaroni and cheese, yogurt, chocolate milk, and raspberry bars from Whole Foods, etcetera. There were also vendors offering free samples of their nutrition/running related products. There was also a live band that added to the party.

I was happy to get my official results (as my Garmin failed me): 1:45--a 9 minute PR! I'll take it!
Mindy finished the full marathon just under 5 hours. Apparently, that out and back portion is a killer. But she just stuck to it slow and steady and finished happy. Sadly, there were many runners who had quite a difficult time. I've never seen so many medical personnel at the end of a race. I saw three marathoners taken away by ambulance, several hooked up to IV's, and innumerable runners vomiting as they came across the finish line.

I think I'll stick with the half, thank you.

The medals were huge! I LOVE mine! And the race shirts are comfy and well fitted. Over all, the Revel Big Cottonwood Half Marathon was the best running event I've been to (not that I've been to many). I definitely want to make this one an annual race.

Thank you Fiauna!  Now it is your turn to experience the Revel Race series and run a beautiful fast net downhill course at Canyon City.  The Half / Full Marathon course is situated in the town of Azusa and the San Gabriel Mountains.  Growing up, I saw those mountains everyday never DREAMING that I would one day run a Half Marathon downhill!  Join me in running this inaugural race.  You can enter to win even if you have already registered.  We will refund your entry fee.  So are you ready to PR in a beautiful setting?  

Just check out that course profile!  It is a do not miss race!  So how do you win an entry?  Simple!  Just comment below and answer the following: Why do you want to run Canyon City?  Would you pick the Half or the Full?  Simple right?

The not so fine print:
No purchase necessary.  Void where prohibited.
1 winner will be randomly selected via a random number generator.
Open to US and Canadian residents 18 years of age or older.
Winner will be notified via email (if available) and blog post, and will have 24 hours to claim prize.
If original winner does not claim prize within 24 hours an alternate winner will be selected.
Contestants must enter on the comments in order to win.
All winning entries will be verified. If a winning entry cannot be verified as completed, a new winner will be drawn.
You have until Saturday September 27th at Midnight Pacific Standard Time to enter.  Winner will be selected on Sunday September 28, 2014.
Code for the free entry will be provided by Smitha (SD Mom). 

Good luck and I hope I get the chance to run with you!

As always, I wish you Happy Feet,
SD Mom


  1. Downhill pr! Half :)

  2. I would do the full. This looks like the most scenic so cal marathon ever!

    1. Justin, you are the lucky winner of the free entry! Please email me at RunningwithSDMom at gmail dot com to claim your prize. I need to hear from you by 7:00pm 9/30 pacific time or I will pick a new winner!

  3. I would love to run the canyon because it has great views! I would pick the full marathon! :)

  4. I grew up at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains in Glendora and I would love my 40th full marathon to be next to my home town!

  5. I would pick the half so I could run with my good friend Smitha :) she's the reason I heard about this race and I'd love to do it with her!!

  6. Several reasons! Cross off another state on my 50 quest, DOWNHILL and to get out of the early cold of the northeast :-)

  7. Full marathon for me. Good times!

  8. I want to win to go for an over 40 PR! I don't think I could hit my PR/PR... but I have a chance with that profile on an over 40 PR (I know that is not really a thing - but it is for me!) Also, I would love to meet Smitha IRL (in real life!!)

  9. Always love a challenge. Half please :)

  10. Definitely the half marathon....I would love a PR and a nice downhill course to prepare me for the triple crown in 2015!!!!

  11. I love to run in the mountains to enjoy the beauty all around me! I would definitely choose the marathon!

  12. I would love to run Canyon City because it is a beautiful downhill course - duh!! ;-) Seriously, though - Azusa was my hometown where I lived from the time I was born to the time we moved when I was 8! Whenever I drive through there I always wonder how my life might be different if we had stayed there instead of moving out to the sticks. hahaha So I would love to return to my hometown and run a beautiful race there...that would just make it so much more meaningful.

    And it would definitely be the half...I just did my first full marathon and I am nowhere near wanting to do *that* again. LOL

  13. I would love to run this because I've never done a half marathon before and it's something that is on my bucket list. I think running one that is mostly downhill would be a good motivator for me to do more, and as a college student trying to continue running between a busy class schedule and lots of studying, I need something that's going to motivate me to get up and go! Lately I've been finding that running hasn't held the same appeal, and I want to light the fire in my soul again. I especially love trail running, so the scenery here sounds perfect! Thank you so much! Good luck to everyone!