Race: Duke City Marathon

Runner: Erin Wagner

Race Date: 10/17/2021

Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico

Results: 1st Female Overall, 9th Place Overall: 3:02:38

Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/6128054752

Photo: Foggy Bay Photography

3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?

Gorgeous fall weather most years, flat and fast course (BQ certified), well-marked/well-supported.

Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you

The course is out and back on the bike path in town, so it’s not the most exciting route. The trees along the trail are beautiful and it’s nice and cool since the path follows the Rio Grande. Knowing that I run this route at least once or twice a week, it was a bit repetitive.

Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?

The marathon, marathon relay, half marathon, and 10K go out and back on the bike path. The fastest runners in the half marathon and 10K will most certainly catch slower marathon and relay runners, so anticipate weaving in and out of foot traffic on the bike path until you turn around.

Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?

Pacing myself, fueling early, and hydrating often were keys to my success at Duke City. The air in Albuquerque is dry, so runners who don’t hydrate early and often can feel very depleted. I felt like my pacing was well-executed such that I didn’t hit a wall until Mile 23, at a time where I slowed down by 30 seconds per mile while some other runners I passed slowed down by minutes.

Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner

Hydrate well the week before the race, save some energy for the last half of the race since it’s slightly downhill, and don’t get flustered when you get passed by a faster runner in the marathon at this race. Chances are this runner could be in the marathon relay or the half marathon. Stay on your pace!

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

The course is flat and fairly fast. The bike path slants slightly uphill on the way out to the halfway point, as it follows the flow of the Rio Grande river, and slants slightly downhill on the way back to the finish. Overall, you will have less than 300 ft of elevation gain. However, it’s important to remember that this race takes place at 4,500 ft of elevation!

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

Yes! The trees along the trail are gorgeous and this time of the year brings out yellows and reds in the trees. You also have the beautiful Sandia Mountain range in the background.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

No. The actual bike path is well-paved and there are no challenging hills along the trail. However, you are at 4,500 ft of elevation so the air is thin if you are coming from sea level.

Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?

Yes! Well-organized, well-supported along the trail, and lots of people in town turned out for this year’s event at the finish line.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

The majority of the competition in town will do the half marathon or the 10K. Faster runners in the area will typically do one of the world marathon majors in the fall, so the marathon field wasn’t the strongest on the women’s side. I had a 23 minute lead on second place and I didn’t have any male runners to race against after the halfway point.

Logistics – Does it require a special handshake, registration a year in advance, hotels all booked? Give us the low down on the nuts and bolts of making the race happen.

This race rarely caps out. I have a friend who signed up for the race four weeks out and there were plenty of entry spots still. Registration will typically open in the late spring and won’t close until race day. I’d recommend staying outside of downtown, close to Uptown or Nob Hill, so you are closer to better restaurants. There was plenty of parking at the race and there is hardly any traffic in Albuquerque. There is a nice gear drop at the race start. The race start is a mass start so there is no need to worry about corrals. Plenty of bathrooms located at the start and finish.

Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?

Gatorade drinks and water were provided at every aid station, which was about two miles apart from each other. There are no food or energy products on the course. If you’d like to have a gel on the course, plan to bring it with you on the course.

Weather and typical race conditions

40-50 degrees, sunny, no wind.

Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next runner?

I wore shorts, a tank top, and arm warmers. It does start in the high 30s/low 40s at race start, so plan to dress in layers at the start, and warms up fairly quickly once the sun crests the mountain range. I finished when the weather reached 60 degrees.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

Yes! Lots of spectator friendly spots along the course. The Bosque trail has numerous parking lots so spectators could easily move along the course by driving to the different parking lots.

How’s the Swag?

Long sleeve tech shirt, finisher medal and age group finisher medals, lots of food at the finish and a beer garden.

The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?

I’d give this race a 4/5. Knowing that it’s the biggest race of the year in a small city, it is a very well-run event. The course itself isn’t the most exciting as a local, but it is a beautiful course and fast. I appreciated the support along the way and the event organization.

Erin Wagner is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about her or to work with Coach Erin, check out her coaching page.