Named one of Runner’s World’s Top 10 Most Scenic and Fastest courses, this stunning marathon begins in the (chilly) Pine Valley Mountains, then takes you on a wild ride back down to the town of St. George. Though beautiful, the St. George Marathon is one of the most difficult runs on the Clif Bar Pace Team’s schedule, and leaves the pacers’ quads beat up for days! The good news is that St. George is a fast course, but only when run properly. Running St. George requires equal parts strategy, patience and determination – and we’re here to explain how to create the winning combination on this unique course.
Have you ever been to the mountains, at altitude, before dawn?
If not, a word of warning: it’s really cold up there. The St. George Marathon starts at an altitude of 5,240 feet, and that’s enough for a deep chill to set in. Dozen bonfires spread throughout the starting area will do a good job of keeping you warm, but make sure you have an ample supply of throwaway clothes as well; this will make your pre-race experience that much more enjoyable. Another surprise? St. George will begin in the dark, and you may not be able to see your watch for a good three to four miles. A headlamp, if you have one, or a small keychain-like flashlight could also make the early parts of your run just a bit less stressful.
Do yourself a favor and don’t hang out at the fires too long; a unique part of the St. George experience is watching all the runners dart from the fires into the corrals at the very last minute. After meeting your pace team in the starting area about 20 minutes before the start, the race will at last be underway. And yes, it’s a downhill start, but that doesn’t mean you should take off sprinting.