Sunday, November 18, 2001

Montgomery County Marathon in the Park (Maryland)

November 18, 2001
Marathon 17, State #11 (Age 33)
Bethesda, Maryland

For a race with a limit of 2,000 the organization and every detail of the race gives the race the personality of a much larger race.  The website is very professional and informative.  The expo included one vendor with a wide variety of clothing and shoes.  Also at the expo the official clothing was all top notch.  I even got a free pre-race massage for about ten minutes while at the expo.

The inaugural Montgomery County Marathon in the Parks on November 5, 2000 was a smashing success! Created by the Montgomery Parks Foundation and the Montgomery County Road Runners Club (MCRRC), the event showcased one of the most extensive metropolitan parks systems in the country while providing runners with a competitive, top-notch race. For 2001, the Marathon in the Parks has some exciting enhancements in store for runners, volunteers, spectators, and every citizen of Montgomery County.

    A modified course will make spectating easier and finish times faster.
    A new award structure featuring $9,000 in cash prize money will ensure top-notch competition.
    The new 2,000 runner limit will allow more runners than ever before to complete the scenic 26.2-mile journey.
    The ChampionChip timing system will provide immediate, precise times for every runner to ensure as great a chance as possible to qualify for the Boston Marathon or set a new PR!
    Our expanded Expo and pre-race Pasta Dinner will provide runners with great shopping, great food, and complimentary massages before the race.
    New race merchandise including long-sleeve T-shirts, our famous Coolmax windshirts, hats, gloves, and more are available.
    ...and much more!

2001 was the 2nd year for this event.

The Marathon in the Parks starts on Redland Road in Derwood, Maryland. The starting line is located about 50 meters East of Route 355 near the Shady Grove Metro Station. Runners head East on Redland Road (away from Route 355) to start.

At the start, the entire road is available to the runners. The first turn is left onto Crabbs Branch Way. At this point, runners will be funnelled to the North-bound lanes of Crabbs Branch Way and will only utilize those lane beginning at the overpass of I-370.

MILE 1 is located on Crabbs Branch Way, 20feet South of a green Cable TV box across from the driveway of 16640, the DOT Highway Maintenance Yard. Continue North on Crabbs Branch Way. Turn right onto Shady Grove Road. Runners will utilize the right lane only on the East-bound side of Shady Grove Road.

MILE 2 is located on Shady Grove Rd, North of Briardale between the eleventh and twelfth posts on the guardrail (South end).

MILE 3 is located on Shady Grove Rd., 20 feet East of the sewer drain and 100 feet West of Muncaster Mill Road. Runners will then turn right onto Muncaster Mill Road, staying in the right lane of South-bound traffic.

The next turn is right on Redland Road, utilizing only the West-bound lane of Redland Road. MILE 4 is located 50 feet Northeast of Pepco pole #758974-5141, across from the driveway for 17021 Redland Road.

MILE 5 is 25 feet South of the crosswalk at Needwood Rd and Redland Road intersection, 54 feet North of the 1st C&P pole.

Runners turn South onto Needwood Road, utilizing only the right lane of the road at all times on Needwood Road. They will then turn right at the first intersection with Deer Lake Road. Follow Deer Lake Road until it intersects with Needwood Road again. Turn right.

MILE 6 is on Needwood Rd, 36 feet West of Pepco pole #760469-26 and 93ft East of the fire hydrant at the top of the hill, 1/8 mile before Needwood Golf Course entrance.

Continue on Needwood Road to the entrance of Lake Needwood Park, just past the lake. Runners now turn right onto Beach Drive into Lake Needwood Park. All of Beach Drive will be available for the runners.

MILE 7 is located in the park on Beach Drive, 15 feet South of the first wooden guardrail on the left side of the road - 172 feet North of the "No Parking" sign on the right.

Turn right at the first intersection you come to. This is a small road off of Beach Drive that will loop around and re-intersect Beach Drive about 1/4 mile down. Once the runners reach Beach Drive again, turn right.

Pass Lake Needwood Drive and continue to the fork in the road. Stay right at the fork to enter Needwood Circle. MILE 8 is located on Needwood Circle, 36 feet West of the wooden stairs on the left and 72 feet West of the 2nd "No Parking" sign.

Continue around Needwood Circle, rejoin Beach Drive, then turn right onto Lake Needwood Drive to exit the park. Runners will use the right side of Lake Needwood Drive.

Runners will turn right onto Avery Road off Lake Needwood Drive. On Avery Road, the runners will use only the right lane. MILE 9 is on Avery Road, 33 feet North of 5925 Avery and 81 ft South of Pepco Pole #765467-9187.

Follow Avery Road to Southlawn Lane. Turn right on Southlawn Lane. All of Southlawn Lane will be available to the runners. MILE 10 is 16 feet East of the first "No Parking" sign on Southlawn Lane, 36 feet East of Rock Creek Trail.

Turn left onto Rock Creek Trail from Southlawn Lane. The runners will be on Rock Creek Trail for the next several miles. MILE 11 is located 1/8 mile North of (before) the Norbeck Road (Rt.28) overpass.

MILE 12 is located 70 feet South of the Rock Creek Trail side trail (on right side) to the Broom School. The runners will come to a parking area at Aspen Hill Park. Run directly across the parking area, vearing right toward the exit onto Baltic Road.

MILE 13 is in the entrance lane of Aspen Hill Park, 171 feet North of Baltic Avenue - next to the upper side parking lot. Turn right onto Baltic Avenue. The HALF MARATHON is at the driveway on Baltic Avenue for 5029 Aspen Hill Rd, 55 feet West of Aspen Hill Road/Baltic Avenue intersection stop sign.

Turn right on Aspen Hill Road. There will be no lane restrictions, as the entire road is closed to any traffic other than runners. Continue across Veirs Mill Road and directly back onto Rock Creek Trail.

MILE 14 is on Rock Creek Trail, under overhead wires past the yellow poles on the small bridge. (Some of these mile marker descriptions seem vague, but the areas that are being run through are fairly heavily wooded, so we can't be too much more descriptive. The certified miles are all marked - in black - on the pavement, too, though.)

Cross Randolph Road. To do this, the runners will follow the trail to the intersection of Randolph Road with Dewey Road, continue straight across Randolph Road to the median, then cut immediately to the right to the main portion of Rock Creek Trail. Ramps will be installed at teh curbs to ensure a smooth transition.

MILE 15 is 100 meters South of Randolph Road on Rock Creek Trail.

Runners will cross Garrett Park Road. MILE 16 is on the trail, 109 feet before (North of) the first footbridge South of Garrett Park Road.

Continue on the trail across Wexford Drive, past KenGar Recreation Area, through the railroad underpass, and across Strathmore Avenue/Knowles Avenue. MILE 17 is 1/8 mile South of Strathmore/Knowles crossing.

Runners stay on Rock Creek Trail as it continues through Kensington, crossing Beach Drive near Franklin Street. MILE 18 is 343 feet before (North of) that crossing.

The next road crossing is Cedar Lane. MILE 19 is 200 meters South of Cedar Lane on the trail.

Follow Rock Creek Trail as it passes under Connecticut Avenue. Continue on the trail across Beach Drive, then immediately across Stanhope Road. MILE 20 is located 100 meters Northwest of the next intersection: Kensington Parkway.

At the intersection of Rock Creek Trail and Kensington Parkway, runners will turn right on Kensington Parkway, crossing Beach Drive. Stay in the right lane of Kensington Parkway for 1/6 mile to turnaround. The turnaround point is 18 meters South of Pepco pole #778427-9952. Return on Kensington Parkway in the right lane again (opposite the lane that was used on the trip out). Cross Beach Drive and continue North on Kensington Parkway. All lanes will be deliniated by cones and will be marshalled.

Follow Kensington Parkway north, crossing Bexhill Drive. Runners will utilize the right lane only on Kensington Parkway to Saul Road. Turn right onto Saul, then immediately right onto Kingston. MILE 21 is located on Kingston, just South of Saul Road. Turn left onto Bexhill Drive, then left onto Kensington Parkway.

When the runners return to the Kensington Parkway/Beach Drive intersection, runners will turn left onto Rock Creek Trail.

Cross Beach Drive at the intersection with Old Spring Road. MILE 22 is 78 feet North of the Stop sign at the intersection of Jones Mill Road/Stoneybrook. Stay on Rock Creek Trail as it crosses under Interstate 495. Cross Beach Drive immediately after the intersection with Forsythe Avenue. The route now takes the trail to the left, NOT over the bridge.

Turn right at the trail intersection, crossing over the footbridge. Rejoining the main trail near Beach Drive, turn left to continue South.

MILE 23 is located 100 meters South of the next footbridge, 150 meters North of Railroad Trestle.

Turn right onto East-West Highway, running in the right lane only. Turn right onto Jones Mill Road, staying in the right lane only. Turn right onto Coquelin Terrace at the first intersection with that road. MILE 24 is located 3208 Coquelin Terrace, 12 feet North or past sidewalk of 3208.

Follow Coquelin Terrace back to Jones Mill Road. Turn right on Jones Mill Road and immediately head across the road to the trail entrance for the Georgetown Branch Trail. The entrance is on the West side of Jones Mill Road, just before the intersection with Jones Bridge Road.

Stay on the Georgetown Branch Trail across Connecticut Avenue. MILE 25 is located 40 meters West of the 15th Tee sign on Columbia Country Club Golf Course, 240 feet West of the 2nd fence gate on the trail.

Continue under East-West Highway, then into the tunnel under the Air Rights Building. MILE 26 is 6ft before the 7th light pole from East to West inside the tunnel - 21meters before decorated fencing.

Once the runners emerge from the tunnel, continue on the trail to Woodmont Avenue/Bethesda Avenue intersection. Turn right on Woodmont Avenue. FINISH is 5 feet before the fire hydrant on the right side of Woodmont Avenue in front of 7251 Woodmont - 10 ft North of parking meter #219.

I would like to again compliment the organizers of this race.  For a field limit of 2,000 runners the support from start to finish was equal or better than many much larger marathons.  In the morning there were Port-O-John's next to the start line and if you didn't feel like waiting in line woods right behind them!  I preferred not to wait in line!  There were water stops nearly every two miles.  At every aid station there was first Ultima and then water.  Gel was handed out two different areas of the course.  The race started out along local roads which drew a fair crowd.  Eventually when the race moved onto the park path there were mostly crowds at the many intersections with the main roads.

After the race there was much food and drink.  They provided bottled water, soda, cookies, a bag of goodies, apples, and bananas.  Next to the finish line was also massage free for all participants.  The weather was warmer than norm for November, but the silver blankets were much appreciated.  They also provided a shuttle of clothing from the start to the finish line which were organized by race number and easy to find after the race.  The course was point to point so during registration you had an opportunity to purchase a metro pass.  The pass gave you fare back to the start line.  The start and finish were both within two blocks of a metro train station.

The official race hotel was Comfort Inn conveniently located less than a mile from the start line.  There was plenty of parking at the start line at the metro train parking area.  The hotel filled up before the race did, so one month prior to the event I ended up getting stuck with a smoking room.  Yuck.  The people working the front desk were very friendly, but management was not very accommodating for the large number of people that wanted late check outs.  They insisted that we had to check out no later than 11:00 a.m.  We removed all of our stuff from the room in the morning and were fortunate when we came back after the race they hadn't cleaned our room yet.  They reactivated our key and we were able to shower.

Packet pick up is Saturday between opening at 10 a.m. at the community rec center near the finish area in Bethesda.  We were not able to find the center very easily because it's tucked in a residential area.  We stopped at a gas station and looked at a road guide of the area to find the expo and packet pickup.  There was a carbo loading dinner Saturday night, but I didn't participate.

I did no sight seeing around Bethesda, but found it was very easy and inexpensive to fly in to Baltimore.  The drive was less than 45 minutes from the airport to the hotel.  After the race we drove back to Baltimore and checked out the Harbor Area.  We found a sports bar ESPN Zone for our after the race dinning experience.  We walked around the harbor and stopped by a few other taverns.  There is a big Aquarium in the harbor that we didn't visit.  Also Bethesda is less than five miles from Washington DC, so there is plenty to see.

Cleveland Browns

 Browns Vs Ravens


(Win 27 - 17)

Sunday, October 21, 2001

Louisville Marathon (Kentucky)

October 21, 2001
Marathon 16, State #10 (Age 33)
Louisville, Kentucky

2001 was the 2nd year for this event.  The Marathon only drew about 300 pre-registered runners, so for the size of the race it was adequately managed.  I stopped by a local running shop and heard there were complaints last year of runners getting lost on the course because of lack of volunteers at the turns.  I had no problems navigating.

There is one word for this course...Flat!  The race starts along the Ohio river for three miles and then reverses back past the starting line where the 10k runners turn for the finish.  The next section of the course heads toward downtown, three more miles past the starting line.  Once you enter the downtown finally the 1/2 marathon runners make their turn around and you see many of them as you head into downtown.  Next is an area where you get to run under a double decked express way along the river.  From here you enter a warehouse district.  After a turn a long straight away through a residential neighborhood, you enter a park.  The park has a few twists and eventually is the turn around point where you get to head back towards the river and run a path all the way back to the downtown area under the double decked bridge again.  From this point you re-trace the road back to the start/finish line.

Since there are so few runners, aid stations are placed every other mile marker.  The volunteers were mostly Cub Scouts.  Provided was both water and red Ultima at every aid station.  There are very few spectators on the course.  Once you pass the turn around point for the 1/2 marathon, they crowd gets very sparse.  At the finish line is massage.  I'm always excited to see massage, but this my experience was hardly worth the wait in line.  At the finish was more water, Ultima and this time bananas and orange slices.

All runners got a long sleeve tee and all finishers got a completion plaque pictured below.  There were also age group awards three deem in age groups of five year increments beginning with 14 and under and ending with 80 and over.  Trophies will be given to top three male and female finishers in all events.

The official race hotel is, call for reservations as early as possible.  The Ramada is immediately off of the I-71 exit.:

Ramada Inn at Zorn
1041 Zorn Avenue
(502) 897-5101

I phoned the week prior to the race and the Ramada was completely full, so I looked for a bed and breakfast in the area.  Approximately 10 minutes from the start I found the Central Park Bed and Breakfast.  They allowed me to return after the race to shower.

Central Park Bed and Breakfast
1353 S. 4th Street
(502) 638-1505 or Toll Free (877) 922-1505



The highlights I found in the area were the Louisville Slugger Museum, $6 for a tour, Churchill Downs (home of the Kentucky Derby), $7 for a tour, and less than half an hour south on I-65 is Jim Beam Distillery, tours are free.  Bardstown Road is a highlight to see with lots of eclectic shops and restaurants, many started by the graduates of the local culinary college.

This is a very fast course, no hills!  If you are looking for a Kentucky marathon, this may be your only choice, but rumor has it that in the spring during "Derby Days" a week before the Kentucky Derby there is a Mini-marathon that may promote a 26.2 mile race in 2002.  


Sunday, August 19, 2001

Pikes Peak Marathon (Colorado)

August 19, 2001
Marathon 15, State #9 (Age 33)
Manitou Springs, Colorado

 Start: 6,295'

Summit:  14,110'

Finish:  6,345'

Once considered an impossibility by its namesake Zebulon Pike, ascending and descending Pikes Peak has become a mid-August tradition for the 800 adventurists in the Pikes Peak Marathon.  Known as "America's Ultimate Challenge," this is one of the top two most difficult marathons in the world.   The course climbs an imposing 7,815 feet in 13.32 miles from Manitou Springs to the summit (14,110 feet).  Once there, the thin air and glorious view of the plains, and west to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and the Continental Divide leave you breathless.  With the races cult-like following, the race fills extremely early, usually in May.  [Craythorn and Hanna]

The first annual race up and down Pikes Peak occurred on August 10, 1956.  Race originator Dr. Arne Suominen, of Del Ray Beach, Florida, had two distinct reasons for establishing the event.  First, he wanted to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the discovery of America's most famous mountain by Zebulon Montgomery Pike.  Second, as a former Finnish marathon champion and harsh critic of tobacco, he wanted to prove that smoking reduced one's physical endurance.  By challenging smokers and nonsmokers to race Pikes Peak, he was confident of proving his point.  With the assistance of race director Rudy Fahl, who continued as the race director until 1980, thirteen runners including Suominen accepted the challenge.  As it turned out, not one of the three smokers who entered the race finished.  Suominen, indeed, proved his point, and in so doing so, started one of the most infamous marathons in the world.  [Craythorn and Hanna]

Although the average grade to Pikes Peak summit is 11%, it varies drastically including, believe it or not, some downhill portions.  Don't get too excited on the downhills though, as the rule of the trail state that for every downhill section there is an immediate steep climb.  Most runners can expect to come within a few minutes of their best road marathon time during the 13.4-mile ascent.  Adding 25% to your best road half-marathon time gives you a good estimate of the time for the 12.9 - mile descent.

Starting in front of the Manitou Sprints City Hall (elevation 6,295 feet), the course travels along Manitou Avenue before turning left on Ruxton Avenue at approximately .5 miles.  After passing Miramont Castle on the right, the route continues up a small hill.  At the Cog Railway around 1.5 miles, a gravel road replaces the asphalt, marking the beginning of the steepest section of the course lasting almost a half mile before hitting the wild flowers and switchbacks of Barr Trail.  Known as the Ws, the 13 switchbacks on Mount Manitou turn more than 90 degrees, and the last rewards you with the first view of Pikes Peak since the start.  The Ws end around 3 miles, but more switchbacks and a short downhill lead you to a natural rock arch at about 5.5 miles.  Just beyond the arch, there is a brief flat section.  Six steep switchbacks bring you to a welcomed flat to downhill stretch as you lave Mount Manitou for Barr Camp (mile 7).  The downhill ends at the "1/2 Mile to Barr Camp" sign, and that half mile is extremely challenging.  Barr Camp (10,200 feet) marks the beginning of what many runners describe as the toughest section of the course; from there it's all uphill.  The terrain soon turns rocky as you make your way past the sign to the Bottomless Pit at the 8-mile mark.  From here, 15 switchbacks, each one longer than the last, take you to the A-Frame (11,500 feet) at 10.5 miles.  The "3 miles to the summit" sign signals you will soon be above tree line.  Several switchbacks take you to the east face of Pikes Peak.  With two miles to go, the trail crosses the east face of Pikes Peak straight to The Cirque (13,200 feet) at nearly 12 miles.  Becoming quite rocky, the course winds to the Sixteen Golden Stairs - the 16 rocky switchbacks near the summit.  After scrambling up the stairs, you head right to a short flat to downhill section before hitting the next series of switchbacks.  These take you to a sign honoring the memory of Fred Barr, the builder of the Barr Trail.  Two switchbacks and a few rocky zigzags after the sign and you you've made it to the summit!  Now it's time to catch your breath and retrace your steps to the finish on Manitou Avenue in front of Soda Springs Park just beyond the corner of Ruxton Avenue (6,345 feet).  [Craythorn and Hanna]

Since few spectators are crazy enough to climb the mountain to cheer you on, most of the crowd support is limited to the start and finish areas.  Additional support comes in the form of aid stations along the route and race personnel at the summit.  Six aid stations (which runners pass both going up and down) cling to the mountain at the following locations:  Manitou Incline - 2.4 miles; French Creek - 4.3 miles; Barr Camp - 7.6 miles; A-Frame - 10.2 miles; The Basin - 12.8 miles; and the summit - 13.4 miles.  The rest of the time it's just you, nature, and 799 other runners challenging the mountain.  [Craythorn and Hanna]

If you want a hassle-free race morning, try to stay in Manitou Springs.  Most motels are within walking distance to the start line, affording you a satisfying shower soon after finishing.  Pikes Peak maintains several time cutoffs at specific points on the route.  Runners must reach these points by the indicated times or they will be pulled from the race:  Barr Camp by 10:15 a.m., A-Frame by 11:30 a.m., and the summit by 1:30 p.m.   [Craythorn and Hanna]

I also found very few places for dinning especially after 9:00 p.m.  I would recommend reservations.  A must stop is a restaurant near the finish line called the Loop which specializes in Mexican food!

Race packets are available for pick-up the week of the race (locations and times provided with your confirmation of entry).  On Friday and Saturday nights, the Manitou Springs Kiwanis Club holds a pre-race pasta party in the Schryver Park for $10 per person.  The awards ceremony begins at 2:15 p.m. in Soda Springs Park.  [Craythorn and Hanna]

Every single race souvenir shirts and accessories were sold out prior to Friday, so the only shirt I received was the one that was in my race packet.  There is a "official" clothing store that will add "finisher" to your shirt sleeve with proof of completing the race.

I also noted that the awards ceremonies as well as the after race massage are in two different parks.  After finishing the Marathon I went to park where I saw massage the prior day for the Ascent, which was different park from which they were giving massage for the Marathon!

All entrants receive long-sleeve T-shirts, and finishers receive medals.  The top three male and female runners in each age group earn awards, with the top 10 overall finishers receiving special prizes.  [Craythorn and Hanna]

Overall male and female winners also go a free lifetime entry to the race.  I was amazed at the amount of veteran runners and repeat finishers as well as the real crazies that raced both Saturday and Sunday!

Although Pikes Peak has no official race hotel, accommodations abound in the Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs area.  But don't procrastinate; August is high-tourist season so rooms go fast.   [Craythorn and Hanna]

I stayed at a Bed and Breakfast that had it's grand opening the weekend of the race.  The B&B was walking distance to the start line.  Devonna is owner, mobile phone is 719-685-0500.

On Saturday, the day before the marathon, the Pikes Peak Ascent is held.  The race is limited to 1,800 runners and, like the marathon, fills in May.  [Craythorn and Hanna]

During packet pick up Saturday afternoon I was able to talk with some of the runners of the Ascent to answer some of my questions for proper preparedness for Sunday's race.  Also Saturday night is a great carbo loading dinner for all.  The dinner included awards for the Ascent as well as a video of the marathon course and the history of the race.  Be sure to fill out free raffle ticket.  I won a VHS tape of photos show for the course!

If you're impatient and don't want to wait for race day to admire the summit view, reserve a seat on Pikes Peak Cog Railway, the effortless way to the top.  Two great summit photos available:  Also there is a road that winds to the top of Pikes Peak which takes approximately one and a half hours each direction.

Another natural wonder, Garden of the Gods City Park, contains 300-million-year-old natural formations accessible by a 45-minute tram tour.  Also the there are horse rides from a nearby stable through the park for 1 or 2 hours.

The U.S. Olympic Training Center provides a different kind of wonder in the from of state-of-the-art athletic training techniques and equipment, with athletes to match.  A 75-minute tour of the Center will fuel your training fire.  If you are not toured out, head the the United States Air force Academy and jaunt through its grounds.

Also about an hour away is the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park which offers a spectacular view of the gorge.

Since the trail is primarily gravel, I would highly recommend wearing short gaiters.  These are especially important on the descent to keep rocks out of your shoes.  Without gaiters, I had to stop frequently to dump my shoes.

Training:  Since most of the Ascent is spent walking, I would recommend using the stair climber in training.  Also hills and stadiums would be beneficial.  Not sure how to prepare for 14,000 feet?