|Mrs Notthat IS the port-pottie line.|
Mrs Notthat ran into Ycnan (not her real name - it's a tough code I use because it amuses me; sorry), who Mrs had run with last year (and had witnessed one of Mrs spectacular spills). Mrs Notthat has had a streak of spectacular spills in recent races and was hoping to avoid a repeat. (Spoiler Alert: One of the three of us would fail to keep the rubber side down. Mrs did fine though.)
I saw two Marathon Maniacs. Both were also from low altitudes. I was originally signed up for the Full Marathon, but downgraded to the Half Marathon due to my current poor conditioning, the altitude, and mostly because I wanted to hang with The Kid as he took on this challenge.
We started on a gravel road but quickly veered off onto some sweet single-track. (There were 229 finishers of the Full and Half Marathons - most of us were still grouped together at this point.)
The closest thing we came to muddy trail. It was easy to avoid, so I reluctantly did, but I did notice that a number of runners had run right through it. (The Full Marathon would hit this on their return trip near the end of the race, after it had warmed up, and I'll bet many of them took advantage of it to cool off their feet.)
The Kid started out with Mrs Notthat, but after about 2 miles decided my much slower pace was a bit more attractive.
The first aid station (mile 4.6). The Kid had not been drinking much which made me nervous. I filled his bottle with fresh water and encouraged him to grab a lot of stuff to eat. (His eyes bugged out a bit when he saw all the M&Ms, cookies, goldfish, chips, and other stuff at the buffet.)
A kind runner took this picture of the two of us at about mile 5. The Kid attached his water bottle to his hat. The Kid thinks outside the box.
I told him that whenever he sees a camera pointed at him, he needs to run. In this case, I really just wanted to show one of the more hazardous stretches of the trail, but he started running over these rocks.
The Kid going over what looked like a mini-playground structure.
The course was very well marked, with course monitor volunteers at key intersections. Trails we were not supposed to use were marked with these "X" flags.
The second aid station (mile 7.1). The Kid was now very keen to get to these. I was thrilled that he had drained his water bottle and was still up for eating lots of goodies. No tummy issues or cramps - I was greatly relieved.
As we left that aid station, I told them I was taking a "parting picture." One of the volunteers heard "party picture" - you might be able to figure out which one.
The Kid was doing pretty good. There were a couple of pauses (in one case he stopped to dig out a piece of trash from the trail). His feet were starting to get sore, but it didn't sound like blisters were a problem. He was still pretty perky and was only asking about how far to the next buffet/aid station. And wondering when we would start to see the Full Marathon runners coming back at us (Full runners ran the same course as the Half runners, then turned around and ran it in the opposite direction - this turned out to be fun for us since we ended up getting to see all the Full runners coming at us).
The Kid asking if it would be OK to go for a quick swim.
The third aid station (mile 11.2). Only two miles left from here, and most of it was on gravel road. I love single-track, but this was a nice break from having to concentrate on not stepping in holes or on lizards.
The Kid pointed out this butterfly factory - there were these caterpillars on the inside of it too. Very cool!
I don't know how he did it, but The Kid pulled out a stunning sprint once the finish line was in view. He ended up beating me by a little under a minute.
The Kid was the one that took a fall at about mile 2.7 or so. He bounced back up and was kind of proud of the whole thing. Definitely a born trail runner.
Massages at the finish line!
The Kid's two brothers, grandma (who said she wanted to do this next year!) and grampa (who couldn't believe there was cold beer at the finish line), and Mrs Notthat (who finished about 50 minutes ahead of me - much faster than she expected given the lack of altitude adjustment).
After the race, we headed to the after-race party at the Pagosa Brewing Company. The Kid turned out to be the only one in his age group for the Half Marathon and ended up winning an age group medal.
He was so thrilled! (A cool thing about the races put on by GECKO is that the awards are made as art projects by local grade school students - I love this! Last year, The Kid was one of the kids making medals.)
Mr GECKO was happy to have a local kid complete the race. We are all hoping that he will inspire more of his friends to take part in future races.
Once again, this was a great race - well organized with a well marked, gentle course (a little less than 900' elevation gain for the Half) with lots of single-track. The aid station and course monitor volunteers were all great fun. Instead of a shirt, we got these nice event-specific socks (which I thought was a great idea).
It sounds like we will be back again next year. (There are two other races they have here that also sound good: Mountain Chili Cha Cha and the frightening Devil Mountain Ultra 50m/50k. There are other events they put on as well.) If we were closer, I'd love to come back for these.
Thanks GECKO and all the volunteers for putting on a great event and making it so much fun!
That's it - move along...
PS: You can see more of my pictures here.