First off, I just love a 6:30 am race start! Finishing a marathon by 11 am is wonderful. So, here is how this race went down… We woke up around 5:30 am to do a little pre-race prep and walk the half mile to the start from our hotel room. First things first, I opened my weather app to see how the day was going to pan out and of course it was raining outside. As with all long runs this spring, it wouldn’t be complete without a little rain! As we left our room and hopped into the elevator another runner started chatting with us and offered us a ride to the start. Sweet! The start was at an event center up on a hill overlooking the city of Casper. The great part was we could go inside for shelter while we waited for the start. We arrived about 20 minutes before the cannon went off and just hung around, antsy to get this show on the road!
About 5 minutes before 6:30, all the runners headed outside to the starting line – there might have been 200 or so of us! The racers seemed to mostly be Marathon Maniacs or 50-staters. It would have been a very lonely race if it wasn’t for Brian joining me – no pace groups and the field thinned out quickly after the start.
By the time the cannon sounded for us to go, the rain had almost dissipated. It was hovering around 60, a little humidity, but a nice cool breeze to help us out. The first 5 miles were a bit hilly, but the landscape was beautiful. Though we didn’t see a herd of antelope, we did run near a very large wind farm – something we don’t see everyday in Arkansas! Miles 5-10 were on city roads as we headed towards the Casper Trail System. Nothing too eventful. By mile 10 the clouds had moved out and the sun greeted us! A little warm for me, but the breeze was still blowing and kept us cool. At around mile 10 we hopped off the trail and made a loop around a city golf course, which provided a nice change in scenery. The only downside is at this point we were seeing the folks who were in the lead start to loop back on the out and back course. Seeing the leaders at mile 16 or so is always tough! We were still feeling good and holding a nice 10 min/mile or so pace. But by mile 20 the sun really started to take it’s toll and slow us down a bit. We ended up walking some larger hills right before the turn around for the out/back part of the whole and then ran the last 5-6 miles with almost no shade. Since I thought it would be overcast the entire race, I forwent sunscreen and was paying for it! I stayed with Brian the 20-25 as he began to run/walk. It’s no fun when you start to have tummy issues, but since we were in no giant hurry, the slowing made the heat a bit more bearable. And when I say heat, I mean 75 degrees and sun. It wasn’t anything too unbearable, but compared to the 60ish temps and rain we started it, it felt quite warm! I picked up the past the last mile or so and broke away to stretch my legs out to the finish. I crossed in 4:35 and was quite happy with that time. Brian was right behind me at, I think 4:37.
Overall, I would recommend this race. It was small, but well run. The aid stations with water, Gatorade, and Gu were every 2 or so miles and they had plenty bathroom stops on the route. There weren’t tons of spectators, but those that were out thanked us for running in their city. The crowd and aid stations were super friendly. We saw one deer, a few squirrels, and many rollie pollies on the route! The cons were no shade if the suns out, lonely if you’re running solo (no pace groups) and the lack of vegan food options in Casper!
Wyoming – check! State number 22 is now complete.