I am registered to run one of the formerly ranked Top 10 Scenic Marathons in the US – the Steamboat Marathon in Steamboat Springs, Colorado (Update: Read my Steamboat Marathon Recap here). The event is being hold on June 1st and it will be my 3rd marathon within a 14 day time frame. I live in Colorado and Steamboat Springs is about 3.5 hours of driving away from where I live, so I already booked a hotel for the weekend. Anyway, here is a quick review about the Steamboat Marathon.
First of all, Steamboat Springs is a beautiful mountain town. It’s a bit out of the way from the major traffic arteries. You can either reach it coming from I-80 in Wyoming taking highway 191 and then highway 40 (beautiful drive – I came down that route back in 2004). Or you when coming from Denver or the I-70 corridor you can take one of the feeder highways like Highway 9 or Highway 34 and then travel to Steamboat Springs on Highway 40 as well. Again, this is a very beautiful drive. Steamboat Springs has preserved some of that Western Flair and it is easy to fall in love with this mountain town instantly.
Steamboat Springs is a mountain town and accordingly this marathon is a high altitude race. The marathon is limited to 500 participants and the half marathon which is held the same morning is limited to 1,200 runners. From what I heard it is selling out fairly quickly. The start line for the marathon is at 8,128 ft., but from here it is pretty much a downhill race course, but you can expect rolling hills and some climbs as well. Sure enough, there will be a few climbs between the start and the finish line, but overall it is a downhill race. The highest elevation is going to be at 8,176 ft. and I am sure I will be catching my breath here and there a little bit (not just because of the altitude, but also because the scenery out there is breath-taking). The second half of the marathon distance is fairly flat, but I guess it really depends on how one comes of the descent to see how things turn out. Running downhill for 10+ miles can be a bit taxing on your legs and joints. Altitude: I live at roughly 5,900 ft., so the actual altitude difference is not too bad for me, but the air really starts getting thin – especially when you go above 8,000 ft. and exercise hard. The course is USATF Certified.
The Steamboat marathon starts at 7.30 AM in the morning, but runners have to take a shuttle bus to the start line. Shuttle buses are leaving Steamboat Springs between 5.45 AM and 6.15 AM for the marathon, while the half marathoners have to take their buses between 6.00 AM and 6.30 AM. The bus station is at the parking lot at the corner of 8th and Oak Street in downtown Steamboat Springs. I booked a hotel that is about One mile away from it, so I will probably walk there, unless the hotel has a shuttle bus for the runners. Bag drop-off is near the start line area and the buses will bring the bags back to town so that you can pick them up near the finish line area after the race. It depends on the weather if I will check a bag or not. It can be quite chilly in the mountains if the sun is not shining at you just yet or in case it is overcast and cloudy right off the bat.
The race has a time limit of five hours and 30 minutes. This would result in a marathon pace of 12 minutes and 30 seconds per mile in case you wonder. I hope to run this race in about four hours. I am not sure yet with my own time as this will be the 3rd marathon in 15 days and it is hard to predict how my legs will handle these two weeks. I am doing a triple marathon challenge with one marathon each on 3 consecutive weekends starting on May 18th. As mentioned the course is a downhill, point to point course, so this should eventually help in running a fast race.
I was pleased to see that the organizers of this race are not “cheap” on the number of aid stations. Aid stations for the full marathon are located at miles 3, 6.5, 10, 13, 15.5, 18, 20.5, 22.5,24.5, and of course the finish line area for post-race fueling. I will carry my own hydration belt to be able to drink Gatorade when I am thirsty and to substitute the aid stations depending on where that will be necessary during the race. I will also use the hydration belt to carry my camera so that I can take pictures. I did this during the Las Vegas Marathon back in November already – using one of the bottle holders on my Fitletic Hydration Belt to hold my camera.
A few days ago I reached out to the Steamboat Springs Chamber of Commerce – the race organizers. I had a question about hotels and I was really impressed because it did not take long to get a detailed reply. From what I am seeing and experiencing so far, I have a feeling that this is going to be a very well organized race and I am really looking forward to run the Steamboat Marathon this summer.
Update June 2nd 2014: Steamboat Marathon Race Recap
Steamboat Images Source: