pueblo marathon race reportRace: Pueblo Marathon

Runner: Matt Urbanski

Race Date: 02/24/2019

Location: Pueblo, CO

Results: 1st OA, 2:44:58; https://ultrasignup.com/results_event.aspx?did=56957

Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/2173609669

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

  • I loved the low key racing environment. There were two school buses driving us to the start (point to point race) and the experience of talking with fellow racers on the ride to the start was awesome.
  • We had a gorgeous sunny day! Wore shorts and a short sleeve shirt with gloves and it was perfect!
  • The course followed some pretty waterways and there was no car traffic to even think about because it was all bike paths.

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

There were some patches with ice and residual snow midway through the race. Not complaining about it, but it was there and I slowed down each time so that I stayed on my feet.

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

One of the woman coordinating the event was dressed up as a moose. The race crew seemed like fun people and the moose outfit was a good touch as we were all getting on the buses at 7am!

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

  • I won! I haven’t won a race in a long time and being out front feels great. It was a small race and I’m realistic about my fitness. At the same time, the experience of racing to win is a good one and I’m fortunate to have this experience.
  • In particular, I feel good about how I managed my race. I didn’t go out too hard, though my second half was slower than the first. I ran with another guy around me for the early miles and never really shook him.

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

  • If it’s windy, there are parts of the course which could be challenging. There are some exposed sections early that weren’t a problem for us this year, but if the wind were right, could be nasty.
  • There is an out and back for most of the second half of the race. Heading out, you’re going upstream relative to the river you’re running alongside, so you know you’re going uphill. It’s not dramatic, but when running fast/hard in a marathon, it’s likely to slow you down. I made an effort not to let the slower uphill splits get into my head here. I was eager for the turnaround though, only to be greeted with a headwind coming back down the river on the out and back. My splits didn’t improve a whole lot and the entire section from 14 to 24 was quite a grind.
  • There are lots of little sharp turns in the last two miles as you navigate some overpass type of terrain. This can break your rhythm if you’re going for a fast finish. Also, the finish line came up on me quickly once we were near the park. If it’s a competitive race, be ready to turn on the jets!

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

I might run with my waist belt and water next time. This race has more of a trail race feel but on pavement. Most of the volunteers were at the tables but not handing stuff out like they do in a road marathon, and there wasn’t room to run with a cup and then drop it on the ground. As a result, I didn’t drink much during the race (twice). I would also remember to bring my own gels (totally forgot!) They had Hammer gels and while I can tolerate them, they’re thick and I prefer Huma lately.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

That steady uphill grind in the second half! It’s subtle, but you’ll feel it and your splits will likely reflect it.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

For a paved course in a town, this is a really pretty course. I enjoyed the bike path and peace and quiet of this race. Not big city road marathon and not epic mountain trail racing, but for what it is, it’s really nice.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

Not a tough course overall. Smooth and runnable except for the icy parts, easy to follow, and straight forward.

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

All good! Signed up a few weeks before the race, no problem. Easy to find parking right at the finish. Got on the bus to the start there no problem. The start area had bathrooms and was well organized. No complaints or challenges whatsoever!

Competition – Is there a strong field?

Two of us under 3 hours in the full. The HM had some fast times and strong runners.

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.

Easy peasy! Signup via ultrasignup. We stayed with family in Castle Rock, so I drove down the morning of the race; I know some runners stayed in town the night before and when I looked at lodging in town, there were plenty of options.

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

Every 2-4 miles. Nice, smiling, encouraging people. Gels at a few of the stops. Heed, gatorade, water.

Weather and typical race conditions

Sunny and 40s. Awesome!

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

Standard marathon gear. I wore my Salomon compression shorts with the pockets, and my compression shirt, and gloves. Nike Pegasus were fine on this course.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

Minimal. Though there were places spectators could be. The guy who finished second had supporters out in half a dozen spots on the course.

How’s the Swag?

Nice long sleeve tech shirt. I won a commemorative pottery vase for winning.

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

5 out of 5. This is exactly the low key, early season race I was looking for!

Matt Urbanski is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about him or to work with Coach Matt, check out his coaching page.