Ogden Marathon Course Preview
Whether you’ve chosen the Zion’s Bank Ogden Marathon for the lush scenery or the screamingly fast course, you’re in for a truly memorable run through an idyllic part of Utah. The CLIF Bar Pace Team is excited to be returning to Ogden for our third consecutive year, and we’re here today to guide you through your upcoming run.
The Ogden Marathon starts at an elevation of 5,400 feet. Depending upon where you live and train, this shouldn’t be high enough to present a problem to your race, especially since the course drops throughout the race. At the same time, don’t be shocked (or nervous) if the air feels just a little thinner up at the start. The chilly desert temperatures, combined with nerves and that bit of altitude, can be just enough to worry you. We promise there’s no need; once your race gets going, you’ll settle in to your breathing pattern and start dropping down those hills.
But let’s head back to that start for a few minutes. If you’re running the FULL marathon, there’s only one way you’re getting to the start – and it’s a bus that leaves from the Ben Lomond Hotel, located at 2510 Washington Boulevard. Busses load and leave at 5 am, and they’re not going to wait. Make sure you prepare for the early wake-up call and present yourself at that bus pick-up promptly at 5 am, if not sooner. Frontrunner trains do not open early enough on Saturday to get you to the start, and there is NO parking whatsoever up at the race start. Full marathon runners, we repeat: you’re taking the bus.
Expect some chilly temperatures once you reach the actual starting area. Race morning lows average between 35 and 45 degrees, so it’s a good idea to have plenty of warm throwaway clothes (you can donate these to charity by using several drop bins at the starting line) and some gloves to keep your hands warm. There will also be a number of self-contained fire pits set up at the start, so the earlier you arrive, the closer – and warmer – you can be. Another starting line challenge? Well, it’s mud. That’s right, mud. The start, though beautiful, is basically a field on the side of a country road – and if there’s been any recent rain or humidity, you’re going to be dealing with mud.
To make your pre-race life easier and neater, be sure to bring a garbage bag or two to sit on, as well as two plastic grocery bags for your feet. While we tend to shy away from plastic as an environmental rule, tying these bags around your shoes pre-race can be the difference between heavy, wet and muddy feet – or dry ones.
After we gather at the start (pace leaders will line up on the right hand side of the street, with large signs indicating their times and red and white balloons), and enjoy the pre-race festivities, it’s finally time to run! And the Ogden Marathon certainly makes it easy, with its opening six miles a quick descent down Highway 39, along the Ogden River. You’re going to be so eager to run, and run FAST through here, but it’s imperative that you stay with your chosen pace team leader. Downhill running, over time, is much more devastating to your quads and hamstrings than uphill, but the damage you’re doing to all those small muscle fibers won’t truly be felt until later in the race. What damage? When running downhill, your body absorbs three to four times your body weight in impact with each step. Add that up, and then add another twenty miles of running on to that. Yeah, that damage.
Run smart and easy those first six miles, and spend all that extra energy on taking in the beautiful scenery, the sunrise and the livestock. Running the relay? You’re done after a nice flat mile takes you to the mile 7 marker.
Marathon runners will continue on a flatter stretch of road, turning onto Highway 166 at mile 8. From here, we’ve got nice, continuous flat road heading all the way to our halfway point. You want to use this time to really settle into your race day, and to continue enjoying the stunning desert scenery. Beautiful views of the Pineview Resevoir, Ogden Valley, ski resorts and rural pastures will abound, as your pace leader coaches you on conserving any extra energy for the later, more difficult miles of the race. You should still be feeling relatively fresh and strong through these miles, though it’s perfectly normal not to feel as spiffy at the half marathon mark as you did at mile 2. Feeling like you need a boost of energy through this second section of the race? Pick up a Clif SHOT from the aid station at mile 9. We’ll have several different flavors available, and your pace leader will call out as many as they can, and even try to grab a few extra ones for the team!
As we head toward that 13.1 mile marker, it’s time for a pop quiz: what is the REAL halfway point of the marathon? If you answered mile 20, you’re right – but that shouldn’t take away from the thrill of being halfway done with the miles. The half marathon mark also offers a heavy dose of mental energy: it’s the second relay exchange zone, the leftover starting line from the half marathon race, and a very popular spectator spot nestled in the midst of some historic and architecturally beautiful buildings. Take some deep breaths through this special spot, and absorb as much of the energy as you can to carry you through that second half marathon – and the only real “hill” the Ogden Marathon has to offer.
That’s right, as you head toward mile 14, your pace leader will have you focus on calm, steady breathing and a little bit of “recovery” from those first 13 miles as we head toward the challenge of mile 14. While the hill we’re climbing is only a half mile long and not overly steep, it is, nevertheless, a real wakeup call for quads and hamstrings that haven’t been asked to do too much climbing yet. Stay relaxed and calm on the climb, and let your pace leader worry about any time that we might lose. We’ll still have 12 whole miles to make that up gradually, and we’d rather have you with us – and still feeling relatively strong – than burned out and overwhelmed at the top. Once we get there, we’ll take some time to regain our breath again while we head around the lake and across the Pineview Dam at mile 17, where we’ll have our best opportunity yet to play with really fun downhills!
Over the next six miles, we’ll experience a significant drop in elevation alongside the most beautiful views on the entire course. As we continue to run through the Ogden Canyon and along the Ogden River, we’ll be greeted by stunning views of pine trees, rock faces, canyons and trailheads. Most magnificent of all, of course, is the Ogden waterfall – yes, an actual waterfall! – right around mile 22. Your pace leaders will coach you throughout this section on downhill running form, staying focused, and fighting through those walls, while still making sure to point out the most picturesque of the scenes around you. You’ll also have another opportunity to grab a Clif SHOT at mile 17 to keep powering you through those later miles.
The waterfall behind you, it’s time to face the guts and courage part of the race – not just in terms of the miles, but changing scenery. We’ll spend miles 22 through 25 on the Ogden River Parkway, a pedestrian bike path running along the river. While the parkway may introduce us to more spectators and residents out enjoying the day, the most breathtaking scenery is behind you just when you need a distraction the most. You’re tired, you’re sore, you’re working so much harder – and now there’s a little bit less to look at. Now is the time to rely on your pace leader the most; let their voice, their coaching, and even just their balloons keep pulling you along, one mile at a time. You CAN do this!
And at last, you know you HAVE done this! As you approach mile 25, you truly have just one more mile to go, and the scenery is picking up again. As tired as you are, and as long as that last mile is, take a few deep breaths, look around, and take the time to appreciate the city, spectators and fanfare around you! Before you know it (although it seems like forever), you’ll be on that final gauntlet through downtown Ogden, with the finish line on historic 25th Street in sight! Raise your arms high in the air and sprint past your pace leader in your final push – you did it!!! Now get that medal and celebrate! You’re an official Zion’s Bank Ogden Marathon FINISHER!
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