Race: REVEL Mt Charleston Marathon
Runner: Coach Nicole Thome
Race Date: 04/01/2023
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/8814708958
3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?
- Since it’s a downhill course, it’s wicked fast!
- Exceptionally well-organized
- Free photos/video
Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you
Though I like the early 6 am start, the bus loading times are brutal — 3:15 – 4:15 am. The ride up the canyon is about 45 minutes. This means a fair amount of time standing around in a pretty small staging around in VERY cold temps! If you’re considering the half marathon, the staging area is much bigger and bus loading times are a bit more forgiving (it’s still pretty cold, though)
Note: this year it was a particularly cold/snowy season for Mt Charleston — starting temps were around 28 degrees. Fortunately, it was a lovely 60-ish for the finish.
Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?
Not really a “weird” thing but something that is different for this race (and most REVEL races) is the disparity in temps from start to finish. Because all of their races start up a canyon, it can be VERY cold. It isn’t unusual for temps to rise as a race goes on but for REVEL races, you need to be prepared and dressed for upwards of 30-40 degree temp swing from start to finish. Layers are key.
Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?
I PR’d by nearly 7 mins and Boston Qualified with a nearly 5 min cushion.
Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner
- Dress for the finish but layer up for the start
- Bring throw away clothes to stay warm at the start
- This course runs downhill at approx 4% grade for 20 miles, you MUST incorporate a fair amount of downhill training into your plan or your quads will be TOAST!
Lessons you learned that will help you next time around
I went into it pretty prepared but I can’t emphasize enough: downhill training is key!
Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race
The course is a steady downhill for nearly 21 miles. The first half is exceptionally fast. Collectively, it’s around 4% grade.
Most courses, you want to aim for even or negative splits. For a course like this, where the first half is WAY FASTER than the second half, you can and should expect positive splits. Build some cushion in by running the FIRST HALF at least 20-30 seconds FASTER than your normal goal pace (ie, the pace you’d run on a regular/flat course). The last 10k of this course is still net downhill (approx 1.2%) but after pounding your quads downhill for 20 miles, it will feel flat (and there’s a slight but steady incline at mile 24). Don’t be discouraged if you’re running over goal pace at this point. This is why you want to build the cushion.
Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?
Very much so!
Difficulty – Is it a tough course?
Depends on if you’ve trained for the downhill pounding. “Gravity-assisted” courses are a lot of fun. But, as mentioned above, pace management is important. Particularly since this one “flattens out” (seemingly) in the last 10k — which makes it feel harder after the fast downhill.
Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?
Very well organized. Plenty of aid stations with water and Nuun.
Competition – Is there a strong field?
I think so since it’s known for being a fast course.
Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?
Pretty standard fare. Water, Nuun and Gu.
Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next runner?
Layer for the start — I always wear the same thing for races regardless of temperature (shorts and crop top) but for a race like this I’ll add arm sleeves and throw-away mittens. You are running EAST into the rising sun so sunglasses are helpful (I forgot mine; wore a visor but wish I had the sunnies).
Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?
Not so much. Hard for spectators to get up the canyon. There are plenty of spots in the last 5-6 miles though thru the neighborhood.
How’s the Swag?
REVEL is always good swag! The shirts are nice quality (choice of short or long sleeve) and they always give either a hat or socks. This year was a hat. They also provide free photos.
The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?
5 out of 5
Nicole Thome is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about her or to work with her, check out her coach profile.