In this race report, Team RunRun co-founder Matt Urbanski shares his experience running the Staunton Rocks Marathon in Colorado, including where he ran out of water! Read on for the full report.
Race: Staunton Rocks Marathon
Runner: Matt Urbanski
Race Date: 8/28/2021
Location: Staunton State Park, Pine, CO
Results: 5th OA, 4:21:20
3 Bests – What aspects of the Staunton Rocks Marathon did you like the most?
- Beautiful course.
- Convenient and easy to get to from Boulder/Denver.
- Gnar Runners put on a good race. It was well run, had a good vibe, and was an all around good experience being there.
Not so much – What aspects of the Staunton Rocks Marathon didn’t work for you?
I got worked by the higher elevation in the race! This isn’t a knock on the race, it’s a knock on my training and acclimation to CO! (I just moved back here a month before the race and was still feeling that 9,500′ we got to during this race!)
Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?
I kept powering through even when things got rough in the second half. I walked way more than I wanted to and more than I normally would have, but I didn’t quit. It was a good hard training run for me, and I’m glad I was out there because I wouldn’t have pushed that hard on a normal training run. I also really enjoyed running with my buddy Andrew. We shared the first 12 miles together before he dropped me. But making the trip to the race with him and racing together was a highlight.
Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the Staunton Rocks Marathon to help the next runner
The trails are not very technical and are generally smooth running. With the exception of the part of the course going up to Lion’s Head, the grades are runnable for a skilled mountain runner and at least smooth. The little bit up Lions Head has a bit more big rocks and technical terrain, but that section is short lived. There is a nice bombing downhill to the finish. Don’t be like me, have your legs and body ready to run fast at the end!
Lessons you learned that will help you next time around
As much as I felt like I was pacing well at the time, I likely would go out a bit more conservatively next time. The elevation on this course, with an average elevation of 9,000′, should be respected! I was worn down from this element of the course more than anything and I paid for it!
Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race
The first climb is smooth, and we ran the entire thing. The last climb is a pain, and unless you manage your day well, it’s tough to run (though it should be runnable IMO!) The climb up Lion’s Head is steeper and more technical. The downhill to the finish is faster running if you have the legs. I didn’t think I’d need water for the final climb/descent, but I was sorely mistaken! I was parched by the end of the climb and had slowed down enough that it was a slog to the finish, and I was dehydrated! Get some water at that final aid station!
Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?
This park and course totally surprised to the upside. Everyone I talked to during and after the race lived somewhere close by, but no one had actually been to this park before. The trails were well maintained, the park was pretty, and it was an all around pleasant and pretty place to run! I’m kicking myself now because I didn’t take a single picture!
Difficulty – Is it a tough course?
Yeah. I think most courses have their tough parts though and any race can be hard, so take my opinion with a grain of salt. Not overly technical. Good vert for a marathon but not crazy. Average elevation of 9,000′ is no joke, but there are higher courses. I got worked during this one, so it was a tough course to me!
Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?
I’ve done two Gnar Runner races and they’ve both been awesome (2019 Never Summer 100k). They are low key and friendly with a great vibe, while at the same time professional and smooth.
Competition – Is there a strong field?
Solid field for an inaugural year.
Logistics – Does the Staunton Rocks Marathon 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 to sign up and easy to get to. If it sold out, it sold out last minute – I signed up just a couple weeks before the race. And it was just over an hour from Boulder so we drove up the morning of. It was all easy (except for the running of course!).
Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?
I only took water and didn’t slow to see what they had; I carried my own gels. The aid station workers were cheerful and helpful. They filled my water bottles for me, and they provided some much needed cheer along the way.
Weather and typical race conditions
It got warm. It was a nice temp at the start, 60s maybe? But it was sunny and maybe in the 80s when we were finished around noon. There was some shade and tree cover, but it was definitely getting toasty out there!
Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next runner?
I used a Nathan VaporKrar belt with a 16 ounce soft flask. I filled it once along the way and should have filled it twice. No other gear needed for this one.
Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?
The park isn’t huge, and we were able to see the same spectators out there a few times. I think the park was reasonably easy to navigate so if you’re adventurous, you can get out there and cheer! I was being chased down by Sandi Nypaver and that meant that I saw Sage Canaday a few times out there cheering!
How’s the Swag?
I like the shirt! It fits to size – a men’s small is actually small and fits me well! And there was a nice medal at the end. They also had a BBQ at the finish line. However, my stomach was a mess and I couldn’t really enjoy that part much. I did eat my share of watermelon though while I recovered!
The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?
5 out of 5! I used this race as a training run so that I could have a more fun way to get a long hard run accomplished. I was pleasantly surprised with everything about this race and am glad I gave it a try!