Sep 24

A Call for Guest Saturday Marathon Previews, Reviews and Race Reports!

Would you like to share your experience about a Saturday marathon that you have run? (Of course you would, you just ran 26.2 freaking miles and the world needs to know about it!)

We’ve been so pleased with the growth of SaturdayMarathons.com over the last year. Now it’s time to take the next step in becoming the one-stop destination for allВ your Saturday marathon informationВ and begin providing race previews, reviews and your own race reports from SaturdayВ races from all over the country!В We’re just two Marathon Maniacs living in Nevada (Steve) and Oregon (RJ) and our current calendar has more than 300 Saturday marathons — we need your help!

This is a great option for marathon runners that don’t want to go through the hassle of setting up their own blog (or if you have a blog but get frustrated by the same sevenВ family members being the only ones to read all of yourВ epicВ reportsВ like RJ was). You can put information out there to help other marathoners choose a race. You can share the race report with your friends easily. We are happy to publish it on our page and promote it on Facebook (if you wish — we’re approaching 2,000 likes). You can inspire people! We are also in contact with dozens of race directors who look for and welcome honest feedback from theirВ paying customers. Your honest and detailed experiences are gold to them.

What we are looking for:

  • A thorough review of various aspects of the race such as logistics, support, course, swag, etc. Please go into detail. Don’t worry about it being too long. We will edit it down if necessary.
  • Please include photos. Everyone loves lots of pics! рџ™‚ Let’s see those medals!
  • Be objective. Don’t trash a marathon simply because you had a bad race or didn’t meet your goal. What did the marathon do well? What could it have done better? Go into to details about why.
  • Have fun with it!

We don’t want a simple one paragraph review like you will see on other race websites. If you’re going toВ train for,В pay for and travel to a race, you want and need more than that.

We are glad to help you with your submission. We may ask follow-up questions, edit grammar (I’ll do my best since I’m not a pro at this) and arrange it on the website.

(Obviously, we reserve the right to reject inappropriate submissions. Please keep it family friendly.В Please also don’t get your feelings hurt if we edit the submission. рџ™‚ )

Race reports/reviews/questions can be e-mailed to [email protected]

Jul 02

Monmouth-Independence Mini-Marathon Preview by RJ

Let me introduce you to the greatest 2.6 mile race in the world held on the best day of the year (that it’s also my birthday is no coincidence at all): the 4th of July Monmouth-Independence Mini-Marathon.I grew up in the town of Monmouth, OR, population approximately 8,000, and went to a high school that was shared with the adjoining town Independence, population approximately 7,000 (both have since grown slightly, but are still below 20,000 combined). Located about 15 miles southwest of Salem, it’s not sticks, but there’s not much going onВ there either (15 years later, there’s slightly more going on, but still not much). Monmouth had one stop light (it now has a second) and Independence still only has one. As a kid growing up there it can be a little boring without much going on. But the one thing thatВ theВ joint communityВ does do is 4th of July. And it does it big.

The crowning event of the Western Days (yes, days, like three or four of them, depending on which day of the weekВ the 4th lands on) celebration is the Grand Parade, which starts at noon in Monmouth and runs for about three miles toВ Riverview park in Independence. 15 minutes prior to the start of the parade, for the 42nd year in a row, the 2.6 mile Mini-Marathon will be held.

The mini-marathon is simple. It starts at Monmouth City Hall, has no turns, drops 47 feet in elevation from start to finish, has cheering crowds multiple people deep on both sides of the road the entire race and finishes at Independence City Hall 2.6 miles later. It’s a foot race. And it attracts upwards of 500 runners or more every year. In a word, it is awesome.

In 2008 this race represented the first miles I had ever run. 17 marathons, three 50 milers, a 50k and three half-ironmansВ since would have never happened if I hadn’t been so disgusted with myself for how wrong I was about my state of health and conditioning at the time. The 2009 raceВ was the first time I actually prepared for and trained for a run (if only for a month) and from then onВ IВ was hooked. TheВ rest is history.

So if you are ever find yourself in the Willamette Valley (or want to be), make a date with the mini-marathon on the 4th of July.

Here’s a quick (because it’s a short race) preview:

You’ll start at City Hall (where my extended family has sat for nearly all of those 42 years). When the gun goes off you’ll immediately pass the city park, full of booths, food and a water fountain on your left. Mom and Pop businesses line the street of the next block before hitting the grocery store, the bank and finally the town’s one stoplight. Run through the light and smell the sweet smells of the local Burgerville (make a note to come back for a strawberry milkshake) as you run up a slight incline before dropping most of the 47 feet. Then it’s around a sweeping S-curve you go, past the little league baseball field and the fire station to your left. You’re halfway there and as you reach the Les Schwab tire center little kids will hand you cups of water.

Entering Independence you’ll pass Mendi’s Pizza. Make a note to come back here and eat. Seriously, make a note. And come back here and eat. The high school is now on your left after which you’ll come to the light in Independence, the Roth’s grocery store on your right. Another quarter mile and you’ll be running downhill again for the remaining elevation drop and then it’s a straight, flat shot to the finish line. Trees line the street and provide some much wanted shade as your heartbeat races and you’re gasping for air. 11th street, 9th street (be sure to run through the lady’s sprinkler here), 6th street, you can see the finish now, just four blocks away. As you reach 2nd street you run through the corral and through the finish line, rewarded with apples, cliff bars and water. You’ve completed your mini-marathon.

If you’re like me, you immediately turn around and make your way back to the starting line where the rest of your family is sitting enjoying the parade,В encouraging the runners behind you and stopping every so often to catch up with friends and families of friends youВ haven’t seen in aВ while.В It’s an all-around great race, low in cost, high on fun and worth the trip to Monmouth, OR.

Here’s the link: WesternDays

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RJ (849) and the extended family runners from the 2009 race (no more current picture was available at time of publishing — we’ll work on that)

Jun 04

2014 Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Preview by RJ

I’ve been fortunate enough to run the Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon each of the last four years and was able to pace Steve for the first 12 miles in what would be a new PR for him in 2013 (which he then lowered in Pocatello later in the summer). Unfortunately 2014 will not be my fifth due to schedule conflicts, but with the race less than three weeks away now, we wanted to give a brief overview of what to expect on June 21st.The folks at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series changed the course in 2012 and it has remained the same ever since. In my opinion there’s good and bad tradeoffs to the changes, but they are what they are, so here we go:The race starts in the heart of the Seattle Center, home to the Space Needle, Key Arena (may the Seattle SuperSonics rest in peace) and a ton of museums, carnival rides and other activities for all ages. It’s also convenient to use the monorail to get to the starting line if you don’t want to walk from a downtown hotel. Which brings me to the downtown hotels. If you haven’t already booked one, good luck. I hope you have a steady income or available credit. And be sure to budget for parking if you drive.The starting area is a good set up. Lots of port-o-potties in different locations to move people through as quickly as possible and nice open areas to walk wherever you need to go. Get yourself to the starting corrals and get ready.

The firstВ 2-3 miles are run through downtown Seattle. Growing up in a small town and now living in a city where the tallest building is seven stories, I love this part of the run. Lots of people line the sides of the road and there’s a great atmosphere. Don’t be surprised if your GPS starts doing weird things as the height and proximity of the buildings cause your satellite reception to go in and out.

After a few more miles through some neighborhood streets you’ll hit the shores of Lake Washington at about the 10k mark. Enjoy the next 12 miles. They. Are. Awesome. At Mile 8 you’ll enter Seward Park and take a loop around the perimeter. At 10.5 miles you’re out of the park and running back up Lake Washington Blvd the way you came, This is a nice shady tree-lined bike path with the water to your right. Out in the distance is the I-90 bridge you’ll be crossing in about 5 miles. But before you get there, there’s something you need to see and experience and feel. Turn your music off, take your earphones out and appreciate this (take a minute, grab a tissue, and watch…I’ll wait):

В 
You can also go HERE to learn more about Wear Blue: Run to RememberВ (watch the video on their home page also…but be sure to grab another tissue).Back to the race. After a short out and back, you’ll make your way onto the I-90 bridge around mile 15. Have I mentioned yet that the race has basically been flat to this point? The bridge run is approximately three miles out and three miles back in and for me, it’s been the make or break section every year. So much can happen here because it’s so unlike the rest of the course. A few things to be aware of:First, the weather. Up until this point you’ve been running through downtown or along tree-lined streets and paths. You’re completely out in the open on the bridge. Second,В if it’s a sunny day, you’re going to be hot. If it’s windy, there’s no hiding. There’s downhill and uphill sections on each side of the bridge and before you hit the turnaround point and immediately upon arriving back at mile 21 you’ll run through tunnels which have a terrible camber to them. There’s no hiding from that either.Running back towards downtown you’ll see (and then come up on, and then pass by) CenturyLink Field (home of the Seahawks) and Safeco Field (home of the Mariners) and then you’re in the final stretch to the finish line. But don’t think you’ve made it yet, because when you make the final turn to the finish line you get to run up one of the steepest hills of the entire course before crossing the tape and receiving your medal. Really, I don’t know how or whyВ they can’t find a better way to finish.

The finish area is not set up as nicely as the starting line. You have quite a long way to walk to get food, meet up with family in the reunion area, buy overpriced gear and listen to a band who was popular, well…back in the day, let’s say (wow, did my personal opinions just get exposed there? My apologies).

Overall, the Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon is an above average race to run, if you don’t mind sharing the course with 25,000 runners and can put up with a few less-than-stellar characterists that have been mentioned here.

Good luck, have a great race, and let us know how it went. We’d love to have you submit a post-race review for us!

Below is the official Course Tour video (ignore the mile markers in the video. I don’t know who put this together, but they’re not even close).

Aug 22

2013 Hoover Dam Marathon Preview by Steve

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I ended up doing the Hoover Dam marathon on short notice. I had recently run a marathon but RJ and his wife were coming in to town to run the Hoover Dam marathon. If I chose to run it, I would be doing so only 5 weeks after the previous marathon. I did it anyways. рџ™‚

Hoover Dam is a smaller marathon. Still, Joyce fromВ Calico RacingВ puts on a great race. The registration was nice and simple. Packet pickup was small but efficient.В 


Even though the race was held in December. The Boulder City, NV weather was absolutelyВ perfect.

The weather along with the views made for a wonderful experience. The views of Lake Mead, the Six Tunnels trail, and Hoover Dam really make this a race to put on your calendar.В 

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The race starts out near Lake Mead and heads along the paved River Mountain Loop trail to the Six Tunnels dirt trail (also known as the Historic Railroad trail). You run on hard packed dirt through some very cool tunnels (they will throw your Garmin off рџ™‚ As you run along the ridge, you will get more views of Lake Mead. After the tunnels, you go down a switchback walkway (ugh!) and reach the turnaround at the top of the Hoover Dam parking garage. This is when you will get a great view of the Hoover Dam.В 

You turn around and head back. This makes one lap. 1/2 marathoners head back to the finish and marathoners do another lap.В 

Normally, I prefer when races don’t have laps. My favorites are point-to-point. However, I enjoyed the two laps on this race for two reasons. 1. The views are so good, you have to do them twice. 2. I was so focused on the race that on the first lap, I missed the view of the Hoover Dam! Fortunately, on the second lap, I made sure to get a good look.

This course is definitely worth it for a 1/2 or full marathon. If you do the half, make sure you don’t miss the view!В 

The course has a good amount of elevation change and the switchback walkway was kind of awkward to run on. It isn’t a PR race (it definitely wasn’t for me) but that isn’t the reason to choose this marathon. The views are worth it. I have gone back to this location to run the trails again and still enjoy it.В 

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Jul 22

2013 Pocatello Marathon Preview by RJ

I ran the Pocatello Marathon in 2010, 2011, 2012 and will run it again in 2013. It’s a great 
small-town race with a great atmosphere and offers everything you could want in aВ 
marathon.

First things first: The race organizers, staff and volunteers are absolutely top notch. All theВ 
trains run on time, the aid stations are where they are supposed to be, stocked with whatВ 
they said they would be stocked with, volunteers at each station are enthusiastic andВ 
supportive and the finish line area is well organized and easy to navigate. And  although I’
ve heard a few people gripe about non-runners, including family, friends and kids, notВ 
being allowed in the recovery area (where all of the food/drinks are), I contend this makes a huge difference in being able to move (gingerly) through the area smoothly. Top to bottom, this is one of the most well organized races I’ve participated in of any distance.

The marathon participants board charter buses at around 5am and are taken up to the starting line. It’s dark and we’re in the middle of nowhere when the driver pulls over to the side of the road, opens the door and declares, “We’re here, don’t leave anything on the bus.” The people immediately around me hadn’t run this race before and their general consensus was, “We’re where?”В 

In 2010 it was partly cloudy and the moon was covered. We were in the middle of the Idaho wilderness at 5:15am. It was dark. The driver told us there was road about 50 yards from us. Turn right, he said, and then take the first right until you see the UPS truck (which took our drop bags to the finish line) at the starting line.В 

The “starting line” was a farmer’s driveway. The line of portable toilets lined a sheep-pen and many (including me) sat down against the barn until it was time to go. Not exactly whatВ 
I had imagined, but interesting, nonetheless. Lines form around the toilets, but nothing tooВ 
bad. There’s music playing, bottles of water available and frequent updates about when 
the race will begin.В 

It was still dark when the race started at 6:15am. As a pack we made our way down theВ 
driveway and onto the road. The first 13 miles are downhill. All downhill. I wasn’t preparedВ 
for that the first time. After a while I started to look forward to something flat, or even uphill.В 
Just something different. That would come, but not for a while.

The sun eventually came up and darkness gave way to a perfect morning. Not a whisper ofВ 
wind could be felt and the temperature was perfect. Around mile 7 I turned my music offВ 
noticed a strange sound: silence. Miles from anything, on a closed road in a canyon.В 
Except for the sound of shoes hitting the ground, it was pure silence. I kept my music off forВ 
a while and just enjoyed the sound of nothing.В 

Just before the halfway mark (and the start of the Half Marathon, which goes off at 8:00am)В 
there’s an aid station, a left hand turn and then a slight rise, maybe a quarter to a half mile 
long. It’s not much. The second half of the race consists of some light rolling hills. Nothing 
too extreme except for a pretty good hill from mile 20 to 21, but the rolling hills seemed toВ 
roll “up” as we came back into Pocatello. The aid stations ware almost a mile apart duringВ 
this stage, but the effect of running downhill for two hours starts to catch up with you throughВ 
these rollers if you haven’t trained for it. The hill to mile 21 finished me off in 2010 (though I 
made it a point to sprint the hill in 2012, no matter what that would mean over the last 5В 
miles).

The final 5 miles into town are as flat as can be. The Idaho State University basketballВ 
team always runs one of the aid stations during this stretch as does the local high schoolВ 
cheerleading squad. There’s also spray misting machine set up and a few other blessed 
locals who set up their own sprinklers on their front lawns.

The final turn always comes before I think it should, which is a welcome sight after 25.5В 
miles and the final stretch to the finish line is tree-lined and shady as you run. The spectatorВ 
support is great, the finish line volunteers are excited to see you and the shady grass parkВ 
is a great place to collapse and relax for however long you need.

Pocatello is a race I ran for the first time in 2010 because it was on my way back fromВ 
dropping my brother off at school, but I’ll go back for a 4th consecutive year in 2013 
because it’s a great event. In addition to the marathon, there’s a half, 10k, 5k and a short 
run for kids, all on the same course. It’s a great family atmosphere with plenty of food, face 
painting and other activities and it’s always held the Saturday before Labor Day, so you 
have an extra travel day built in after as well.