iron horse half race reportRace: Iron Horse Half Marathon 2018

Runner: Rohit E

Race Date: 08/26/2018

Location: North Bend, WA

Results: https://results.chronotrack.com/event/results/event/event-43083

Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/1799338943

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

  • The downhill nature of the course
  • The wave starts make it easier on the runners so that you don’t to jostle with people constantly
  • The trail is wide
  • The mile markers are very accurate; never off by more than 0.03 miles.
  • Porta-potties at start and finish were plentiful and there were no lines

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

  • The haze this year from wildfires made for a difficult time for most, though I strangely didn’t have much trouble with it

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

  • My goal was to run sub 9 minute miles for 11 or 13 miles, and I managed to do 10 out of 13, and significantly faster than 9 minutes for those 10 (around 8:45 or so), so I was thrilled with my performance. Overall I shaved about 3:30 off my previous PR, so I was very happy. Granted, this was downhill, but I find trails slower than road, so at least some of the time was due to my own performance, not the course.
  • I started speeding up in the last mile, and with about 0.5 to go, someone came up about 20 feet behind me. I picked up the pace, he responded, then I did, and back and forth. Every time I picked up the pace, he would let out a huge groan, like “aaaaaaargh”, as if he had topped out and I still had another gear left. At one point one of my calves started tweaking like my legs were going to buckle, but fortunately my legs held. I had enough left in the tank / gutted it out and after 4 or 5 accelerations, I dropped him. Yes, I’m petty, but the kick over that last section was incredibly satisfying. Got the announcer and crowd a bit excited. I wanted to turn around and congratulate him, but unfortunately lost him at the finish line, so I never saw the person’s face, just a blue blur.
  • I discovered that I can run 13.1 miles at a sustained speed much faster than I had previously thought possible (I’ve run about 7 or 8 halves that were all around 2 hours), so that was fantastic. Huge thanks to coach Matt for introducing me to strides, strength workouts, tempo runs, etc. that taught me to run at this speed. Onward to the next PR!

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

  • The aid stations were enough for me (3,6,8, 10.5, 12), but if you need more water, especially since this race is in August, you should bring some with you. They also have gels, but nothing solid.
  • The trail is kind of a jeep-track, so there are two tire-track-wide bald lines along the route, with some grass in the middle. I found that running in the tire tracks was the fastest. I also kept switching sides to stay on the insides of the very slight curves (running the tangents), which no one else seemed to be bothering with.
  • If you are running late or something, don’t speed through North Bend. I got pulled over by a cop, though he let me off with a warning. You can just start in a later wave and be fine – nobody is checking to see that you’re in the wave you signed up for.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

I like this race a lot; having run it 2 years ago. It’s cheating a little with the downhill thing, but it’s well organized, well crewed, and a good location. Bring hot sauce or mustard for the hot dogs at the finish because they seem to always run out of mustard.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

Can be quite hot. This year there was a sprinkling of rain, so temperatures were pretty cool, but a bit muggy.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

Definitely.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

Not at all – quite easy. Wide and downhill / flat.

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

Yes, well run.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

No idea, I’m a slowpoke.

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.

Parking is pretty easy. I think they usually sell out but not super far in advance or anything. T-shirt pickup is pretty easy for city folk; at Greenlake Road Runners.

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

5 of them at 3,6,8,10.5,12. Water, gatorade, and gel shots. They don’t really mark the gatorade and water, so if you’re flying through then it’s just luck of the draw. No solid food.

Weather and typical race conditions

Typically hot, this year it was cool and rainy.

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

I think regular running shoes are fine for this, especially if you tend to run slower in trail runners. Light trail runners would be fine too. The trail is very easy, and while it is gravelly and therefore slower than tarmac, the downhill nature makes up for that.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

Not sure along the course. Certainly the start and finish are pretty good for friends; parking is easy at the finish (where you take a shuttle to the start). Parking at the start is not easy, but maybe possible if you get there super early. I think at least some supporters were riding the shuttles to the start, and then I don’t know how they were getting back to the finish line (maybe someone else had to pick them up).

How’s the Swag?

Pretty nice colorful and large medal. T-shirt was not quite a technical shirt, not quite a cotton t-shirt, but it had a nice velvety feel to it. Nice color blue.

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

5 stars; great race, great place to set a PR, and very well run.

100 stars to Matt and Julie; I’m over the moon with the PR and I simply would never have broken through my past plateaus without the focused training.

iron horse half race report