Race: Jack & Jill Downhill Marathon

Runner: Derek Siebert

Race Date: 7/25/2021

Location: Snoqualmie Pass/Hyak to North Bend, WA

Results: 2:59:53

Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/5685943516

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

1. The course is beautiful and fast.

2. The race was well stocked at aid stations and finish and plenty of bathrooms at start.

3. Communication for logistics with race organizers was good and was also well executed on race day.

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

The tunnel does crazy things to GPS so it was disappointing to not have mile markers in the tunnel. I was using a pace band and the mile markers especially later in the race seemed off as I’d be +10 seconds 1 mile and -20 seconds the next mile while running with others. Not a big deal if you aren’t having a bad GPS day, but was challenging day without a reliable way to know how fast you’re going. They charge $25 for race day pick-up. I ran The Super Marathon in June and it was free and easy race day pick-up. Saved me an hour and a half on a Friday.

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

Setting my alarm for 3AM for a 4:30 bus for 6:30 start for a race that’s 45 minutes from my house! You have to take a shuttle bus from North Bend to start AND from finish back to parking area (about 2 miles).

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

I finished sub 3 which was the goal! I ran a pretty smart race despite GPS challenges. Thankful for pace band. Very thankful for the guy who finished just ahead of me to push me along in 25+ when I thought sub 3 was out the window.

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

Be ready to switch back and forth on the trail based on where the best footing is out there. If it’s warm, half the trail is often in the shade. If the footing makes sense, stay in the shade. The last 5 miles are steeper downhill, but they seem flat!

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

Just don’t give up. Keep mentally strong.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

If it’s foggy in the tunnel from your breath, use your headlamp as a hand held. It’s hard to pass in the tunnel so this isn’t a race you want to start in the back. Make sure you start with people of your ability or your first 3 miles could be off pace or you can turn an ankle trying to zig zag in the tunnel.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

Very pretty. But consistently pretty. If you’re from the PNW, it’s not spectacular, but very pleasant.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

It’s a fast downhill course. I think recent trail running with good, hard downhill training will keep you from blowing up. I lost all but 1 of the pace group we were in late.

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

As mentioned above, good communication and execution.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

I’d say average. 2:59:53 was good for 23rd out of 436.

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.

I registered less than a month out. The Saturday race and both half marathons were sold out, so register early to pick your day/race distance. For the shuttle bus, you have to pick a time at registration. Because I registered late, only the very early buses were available, leaving me at the start line for 90 minutes. There are no vendors or services at the start line, so all you can do is stay loose and talk to other runners.

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

Aid stations every 2 miles. Some had 2 volunteers, some had 1. Be prepared to get your own drink from the table. About half of them were actively handing out water/Gatorade. No gels.

Weather and typical race conditions

Good PNW weather. 50’s at start and low 60’s at finish on a day with 81 as the high.

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

Bring a headlamp. This race allows you to put your headlamp and put into bag for collection at end of race where others make you carry it or ditch it. I took a $10 headlamp to ditch and was fine. If you want tons of light, then make sure you write on ziplock bag before race and carry in an accessible spot for collection at exit of tunnel.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

Poor for spectators during the race as it’s a point to point. Not a crowded race, so good for spectators to meet you at the finish line.

How’s the Swag?

Standard medal and swag bag. Tech tank top that’s decent quality. For $150 after fees, anything less would be cheap.

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

4/5. The greatest draw to the race is the course. Flat for 3 miles and then gradual downhill. Lot’s of BQs were obtained. But the race organizers add nothing to give the race personality/make it memorable.