June 3, 2012
21st Marathon Completed
Place: 13th/237 Overall
2nd/41 40-49 Age Group
Elevation: 5,348 ft
Temperature: 70 Degrees
Wind: 5 mph WNW
Overall Experience ... 3/5
Spoiler Alert ...
- Good small town marathon
- Easy city to navigate
- Convenient packet pick-up
- Great pre & post race food
- Easy parking a few feet from the finish line
- Great warm up and pre race waiting area
- Home of Pronghorn Antelope
- Very friendly staff
- Absolutely no crowd support
- Very poor water distribution and very limited volunteers
- Very poorly marked & confusing course
- No sight of runners ahead of, or behind me for most of the race
- Nice post race party
Race Shirt, Medal, & Award Stuff
|Casper Marathon race shirt, race medal, and cool stuff I won for 2nd place in my age group - a blanket and duffle bag|
If you like cowboys, blue sky, mountains in the distance, miles and miles of prairie grass, abundant wild-life, and a long-long drive from anywhere ... you would love Casper, Wyoming. With a population of only about 50,000, it's actually the State's second largest city. I'll be honest, it wasn't the most exciting place I've ever been, but I did find some very interesting things about this central Wyoming town.
|Fortunately I still had energy for the race after building this log cabin|
Also, I've been reading "Blood Feud", about the Hatfield & McCoy rivalry in the late 1800's. So in honor of them, I took some time to build this log cabin.
I browsed the Internet for a few days before the marathon to find a few of the unique things about the city. Below are a few of the great pictures I got while in Casper.
By far and away the coolest thing about the central Wyoming area (at least to me) is the abundance of Pronghorn Antelope. These little fellas are everywhere. The Pronghorn Antelope is native to North American grasslands, predominantly in Central & Western Wyoming. They are the second fastest land animal behind the Cheetah, running upwards of 55-60 mph. However, many view the Pronghorn Antelope as the fastest land mammal based on how long it can sustain this speed, as opposed to the Cheetah which is known for shorter bursts.
|Several photos I was able to capture of the native American Pronghorn Antelope while at the Casper Marathon|
|Me before the Casper Marathon - ironically, this is exactly|
the same amount of people that I would run with
for most of the race
Packet pick up was held the day before the race at the host hotel, the Ramada Plaza Riverside. I stayed at my customary Hampton Inn. There was a little bit of a line starting to form at the doorway for packet pickup when I arrived, and some of the runners were beginning to get a little restless. I felt bad for the two ladies handing out bibs and race shirts - this wasn't that big of a race, but there were only two of them, so a little bit of a wait could be expected.
There was a very nice ... but REALLY chatty ... woman in front of me in line. If you know me, you know that I come across completely different on my blog than I am in real life. On here, I can seem really outgoing and gregarious - but in actuality, I'm pretty quite, shy, and keep to myself ... and I really enjoy it when others do the same. But this lady was a complete 180 of me. She kept dropping little hints and invitations to inquiry about her life to everyone just out of the blue like, "Boy, I hope this race goes better than the last time I was in Wyoming" (like we're supposed to be enticed to say - Golly, what happened the last time you were here???) ... and "Boy, I wish I knew if this race was a 50 States Club qualifier" (insert someone from the crowd asking - Golly, have you done a lot of other States???) Somewhat rudely, I had been looking away from her when she pondered aloud as not to make eye contact - but then she trapped me when she asked, "Do you think there's another Expo somewhere else besides this one? This one's really small!" I had to answer. I had no choice. And I could have been A LOT nicer about it, but after only 30 minutes, this kind, but slightly irritating woman had broken me. So I blurted, "Why would they have two different Expo's? There's only like 250 people in this race - it's not like they can afford rental on a huge hall. Plus, what vendors are gonna drive 12 hours to Casper, Wyoming for 250 people? Really, two Expos?" About 5 or 6 of the people in the group who had been thinking EXACTLY what I had been thinking started chuckling. I felt really bad - in no way did I want to embarrass her. And I would have felt worse if it would have silenced her, but she just started in on another topic.
|Casper Marathon Elevation|
|Hard to decipher course markings for the Casper Marathon|
We lined up at the starting line with a temperature of about 60 degrees - and rising. As soon as the sun got a little higher in the sky, the temperature stayed right around 70 degrees for most of the race. The gun went off about 5 minutes late. This would have been annoying if I would have timed my warm up down to the starting gun, but I wasn't really going to run this one that hard so it was no big deal. Although there were a couple of runners grumbling about it. (You know from previous posts that I think there is ALMOST NEVER a good reason for a late start at a race)
The Casper marathon is a very flat course with a couple of little hills here and there. But the only significant climb is a 100 ft incline from miles 1.5 to 2.5. And even though the race had just started and my legs were really fresh, I began to breath really heavily running up this mile long incline. I looked at my heart rate monitor and I was at about 175-180 bpm ... what the heck??? I should have been at about 130-140 bpm at this point. But unfortunately, I monitored my heart rate all day at about 10-15 bpm higher than normal. I guess the elevation took more of a toll on me than I thought it would.
Race "Improvement Needed" #1
|Nice post race party at the finish line|
Race "Improvement Needed" #2
The only other somewhat negative observation about the race was the water situation. Not enough of it, and a very non-efficient job handing it out. But again, this was a REALLY small race and I know they did the best with what they had. It had be really tough to get volunteers for such a small event. But at almost every water stop, you had to stop and wait for the volunteers to give you a cup of water. They weren't there waiting for you like most races. I wasn't running for a PR or anything at Casper, but if I would have been, this would have definitely added a few minutes to the clock. You could tell the volunteers were pretty new to the process, but it was really great of them to get out there and help out. The spacing of the water in the later miles was fairly scarce as well. If memory serves, you had to run about 2 miles between water stops in the last few miles. It would have been nice if they were a little closer together.
|Me with prizes for 2nd in my Age Group at Casper|
I finished 13th overall with a 3:35:10 - fast enough for second in my age group of 40-49. The time seemed a little slow to be winning anything, but as I compared the times from previous years, everyone seemed to be 7-10 minutes slower than past finishes. It was probably due to the higher temps. I know 70 degrees is not face melting or anything, but it seemed really hot in Casper during the marathon. It was only a little after 10am when I finished the race, so I knew I had time to get back to my hotel room, shower, pack, and then come back to the finish line area for the awards ceremony at noon. For second in my age group, I got a really cool duffle bag, and a great blanket, both with the Casper Marathon logos. Awesome! Immediately after that, I got in my car and headed back to Missouri.
Would I recommend the Casper Marathon to others ... hmm, that's a good question. The race is 10 years old, so you would think they would have some of the kinks worked out, but there are still a couple of small issues there. If you are trying to do all 50 States - I would say "Yes", do it! Everyone I've talked to says its the best marathon in Wyoming. (I think there are literally only 2 or 3 other marathons in the State) But if you're looking to run just one or two marathons and don't mind travelling a little, there are several other great marathons in the area like Missoula, Montana and Logan, Utah - which are both on the smaller side, but seem to be a little better. That being said, the race organizers definitely did the best with what they had to work with, and they helped make my stay in Casper an enjoyable one!
... be great today!