Monday, August 8, 2011

Grizzly Marathon Weekend in Choteau, Montana

Sarah and I finished our awesome two week vacation with one final stop before driving home: Choteau, MT. This small town in northwest Montana, only about 100 miles south of the border, had great small town pride and  very warm and friendly hospitality. We arrived mid afternoon and checked into our cheap, simple, but very professional motel, only a block from the race start/finish.

The 10K started at 6:30pm on Friday night. I was pre-registered but Sarah decided to register on the spot and run it as well. Her running shoes had given out the week prior at Lake Louise on one of our hikes and caused bad heel blisters. We asked at packet pickup if they had any shoes for sell or anything like that. One of the volunteers said she was the same shoe size as Sarah and went home and brought back four pairs for her to try one, saying she could wear any of them for the race and one of the pairs in particular she could buy from her if she wanted because she had only worn them once and didn't like how they fit. Sarah wore those shoes, the Aasics Nimbus 13, for the 10K. She loved them. We researched online and found they they run about $130 new so we offered her $75 and instead she bargained and only accepted $50 from us. What a great deal and what nice people in Choteau! And boy do women know how to do some backwards bargaining!

The 10K was a very interesting course though it was an out and back. It was definitely the hardest 10K I have ever run. The slowest 10K I've ever run by far. The only time I've ever had to walk in a 10K (mile 1.5 through the 3.1 is a long, steep, gnarly hill into a gailforce headwind). But also the highest I've ever placed in a 10K (5th overall, 4th male). I ran a negative split by about 3.5 minutes with the tailwind and definitely felt the altitude and difference in dry mountain air on hydration even at the 10K distance. Sarah finished strong also running a negative split. She stopped in the second mile to help a little boy who was crying and make sure he was alright and then carried on to face the wind and hill. She ran the second half without stopping and finished really strong feeling good. I was able to pace her in the last mile.

Saturday morning was the marathon. The buses to the start line left promptly at 4:00 am which made for an early start to the day. The buses took us out to the middle of nowhere at the base of the mountains on country dirt roads. Thankfully we were able to stay in the bus until just before the race start as it was cold outside - around 50 degrees. The 6:00am start sent us off on the most scenic of any road marathon I have ever run. Great mountains, foothills, and bluff vistas along the course. There were plenty of hills to walk and plenty of downhills to fly down on. My goal basically was to take it easy, have fun, and finish under 4 hours. I had fun running with some marathoners going for 50 states and hearing their different stories. I was holding together quite nicely until nausea started setting in around mile 22 or so. It was getting hot - probably nearing 80 which isn't that bad but my body still wasn't 100% from the weekend before. The biggest thing was just my quads were still sore from the previous Saturday's Canadian Death Race. I had to calculate and strategize quite carefully the last couple miles to subside the nausea (hydration, ginger, etc) and still finish under 4 hours, which I did in 3:59:28. I returned to the motel where, feeling miserable, I threw up. But that's pretty much the end of the story because I quickly felt better after a little nap in the car on the way home and some lunch.

This marathon (apparently in it's final of 10 years) was very professional, very organized and a very classy event. I was especially impressed with the locals from Choteau who shared stories with me about what it was like to live there and have Grizzly Bears come up to their front doors and to live through the long, cold winters. Another state in the bag. Only 35 to go! :)

Results from Grizzly Marathon Races: