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Death Valley Trail Marathon? For a 1st-timer?



 
 
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  #1  
Old December 7th 03, 03:16 PM
OO
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Default Death Valley Trail Marathon? For a 1st-timer?

Hi all,

I'm currently entering the late stages of my Galloway schedule, and I
have started looking at the Runner's World online marathon calendar to
see which races are available. This will be my first marathon.

I'm in CA and love the Death Valley, so one race in particular catches
my eye: The Death Valley Trail marathon on 07 Feb 04. I read that
this race has a steep opening, but that does not intimidate me as much
as the fact that I have done nearly no running on unpaved surfaces.
Considering this, would it be a "bad idea" for me to try as my first
marathon? Does it have a relatively high difficulty?

Thanks,
OO
  #2  
Old December 7th 03, 06:42 PM
Donovan Rebbechi
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Default Death Valley Trail Marathon? For a 1st-timer?

In article , OO wrote:
Hi all,

I'm currently entering the late stages of my Galloway schedule, and I
have started looking at the Runner's World online marathon calendar to
see which races are available. This will be my first marathon.

I'm in CA and love the Death Valley, so one race in particular catches
my eye: The Death Valley Trail marathon on 07 Feb 04. I read that
this race has a steep opening, but that does not intimidate me as much
as the fact that I have done nearly no running on unpaved surfaces.
Considering this, would it be a "bad idea" for me to try as my first
marathon? Does it have a relatively high difficulty?


You've still got about 8 weeks. If you're serious about this, try to get in
some of your long runs under similarly adverse conditions (the race course
itself, for example). If you're not prepared to do that, you'd be better off
with a race that matches your training conditions. IMO.

Cheers,
--
Donovan Rebbechi
http://pegasus.rutgers.edu/~elflord/
  #3  
Old December 7th 03, 09:25 PM
Dot
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Default Death Valley Trail Marathon? For a 1st-timer?

OO wrote:
Hi all,

I'm currently entering the late stages of my Galloway schedule, and I
have started looking at the Runner's World online marathon calendar to
see which races are available. This will be my first marathon.

I'm in CA and love the Death Valley, so one race in particular catches
my eye: The Death Valley Trail marathon on 07 Feb 04. I read that
this race has a steep opening, but that does not intimidate me as much
as the fact that I have done nearly no running on unpaved surfaces.
Considering this, would it be a "bad idea" for me to try as my first
marathon? Does it have a relatively high difficulty?

Thanks,
OO


I've not done the DVTM and have only done a few short trail races, but
run predominantly on trails. So take that as a warning that I'm a
beginner on a learning curve, but some experience thinking / planning /
training for trail races (Most of our trail races are in summer when
I'm in field.)

Short answer: It could be an excellent first marathon *IF* (notice the
really big IF) you have been doing hill work and are used to carrying
food / fluid with you. That is, have done more running than typical 1st
time marathoners. There's still 2 months to train (actually 5 wks and
taper), but registration is likely to fill soon (4-8 wks out).

Other than that you're nearing end of Galloway marathon schedule and run
mostly roads, you haven't given us too much background on your running.
Is this using run/walk approach in your schedule and/or goal? Do you
have years of road running and racing experience and have only judged
progress by pace, rather than effort? Do you have extensive hill work in
your training program? I'll assume yes / medium / some for answers.

Some long-winded thoughts.

First rule of trail races: enjoy the event and the environment I
looked at some of the pics of the race, and it looks like it should be a
lot of fun - a LOT more interesting than something like Badwater.

Second rule: Forget about road-running paces. You will generally be a
little slower on a gravel road compared with paved road. When you go up
and over that hill at mid-course, you will be going even slower. Walking
is not a sin. In fact, stopping briefly to look at scenery is not a sin.
Some landscapes just take one's breath away.

Learn to run by effort, rather than pace, if you haven't already learned
that.

Third: Don't expect the "amenities" of road races - course may be
long/short, probably no mile/km markers, aid stations will be farther
apart and possibly less well stocked.

The course description says aid every 5 miles, and general statements by
the race organizers suggest this race has minimal support, typical of
trail races. [This is not something against race management - just
something to be aware of. Our Alaskan trail races have none, usually. We
bring our own food / fluid.] I noticed one runner commented that mile 15
was out of water when they got there - this is *not* good on race
mgmnt's part. But plan accordingly. It doesn't sound like temperatures
would be outrageous (30-70F, probably, from what I saw). But have a
feeling for your hydration (+electrolytes) and possible time between aid
stations, and whether you need 1 or 2 bottle waist pack or hydration
bladder. Different people have preferences for what works for them,
considering how much fluid you may need.


Topography comments:
http://www.envirosports.com/exec/env...blicationID=42

"The Marathon climbs 2,300 feet in the first 12 miles, then descends
5,000 feet over the last 14 miles."

I looked at the course map, which has some relief indicated, but not
contours. I'd get a contour map of the area or an elevation profile, if
available. It looks like the first 1/3 is relatively flat, then ascends
over a mountain, then back down. While they indicate 2300ft/12miles =
about 200 ft/mi up, which isn't too bad, you may find it's 20ft/mi up
for the first few miles, then 500ft/mi or more up when you get into the
mountains. I don't know - I'm just guessing from the look of their map.
Similar situation on way down - avg 360 ft/mi but I'm guessing there'll
be steeper downhill sections. The fact that it's a "jeep" road (it looks
like some of our regular roads suggests there won't be any 50% hills,
eroded gullies, etc.

What I do where I can't mimic the course on my training trails, is try
to identify the longest uphill and the steepest portions and about how
long - either from topo map or scoping the trail. I'll then do (1) hill
repeats (aerobic effort level, duration appropriate to how big the steep
pitches are) on my normal trails that have slopes similar to the
steepest portion and (2) long hill runs on trails or dirt roads that
have similar amounts of uphill, even if a lower gradient. I'll alternate
weeks for these workouts. I'm just a beginner so I try to cherry pick my
training. An experienced trail runner would just be able to run a trail
a include all that in there.

Note that hill work consists of both up and down. Your quads will need
the strength on the downhills. It is a net downhill course.

The footing looks easy (at least what's in the pics I looked at) so the
difference between trail and road may not be that big a deal. From what
I saw, I think the hills, esp. the downhill, might be more of an issue.


In my un-informed opinion, this could be a really great first-time
marathon, esp. considering the scenery and lack of crowds - *IF* you do
the necessary hill work, understand and execute energy management on
hills, and don't mind carrying food / fluid (and have done it in
training). Excellent scenery! If you're not having any problems with the
schedule you're on and you're doing Galloway run/walk, then plan your
walks for the extended or steep uphills rather than at fixed intervals,
which are really only useful on flat roads. Practice this ahead of time
on hills and gravel roads. Practice carrying all the gear you might need
on the route. Be aware of the 6-hr cutoff, which I'm guessing is
reasonably adequate for running or run/walking (probably not for
straight walkers) the course, based on other cutoff times I've seen.

If you expect coddling (=mile markers, extensive aid, cheering crowds),
then I'd avoid this. (you sounded like you were probably looking for
something out of the way anyway, but thought I'd add this note)

It's also possible that it might be a little more than what you're ready
for this year - it just depends on how solid your training is until now
and whether you've been doing hills, carrying stuff, etc. It *will* take
more prep than a typical marathon, but it doesn't sound un-doable for a
beginner who puts in the training. And there's still 2 months to train.
Or if it's too tight for this year, think next year. I'm not sure what
other choices you were considering. We've got a marathon with almost
4000ft of hills in it (although various sized hills spread through the
course, rather than one mtn to get over), and people do that as a first
marathon. Most of the runners respect the course and do the training and
have fun.

Just as another note, if you go back and look at some of the race
reports, you'll find the people that have done the homework for the
topography of their course laugh at the hills in their races. Those that
don't train appropriately get their butts kicked. And it doesn't matter
what their experience level!

Enjoy! It looks like it would be a blast if properly prepared for!

Maybe some of the CA trail runners know more and can give you better
ideas. Like I said, I'm just going by the course description and my
observations, limited as they are.

Good luck.

Dot

--
"Success is different things to different people"
-Bernd Heinrich in Racing the Antelope

  #4  
Old December 8th 03, 02:24 AM
Doug Freese
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Default Death Valley Trail Marathon? For a 1st-timer?



Dot wrote:



Short answer: It could be an excellent first marathon *IF* (notice the
really big IF) you have been doing hill work and are used to carrying
food / fluid with you. That is, have done more running than typical 1st
time marathoners. There's still 2 months to train (actually 5 wks and
taper), but registration is likely to fill soon (4-8 wks out).


I took a quick look at the web page and I think the only concern
might be the footing in Death Valley National Park. Is it hard
packed, sand, etc.? This is the same area they run Badwater but
they have aid stations every 3 miles and Port-a-potties. Ahem, no
place to hide if one has to go. They do suggest you carry some fluid
between aid stations. Elevation is less than 500 feet so it's flat
and possibly fast. It does have a 6 hour cutoff which may be a
concern.

Again, the main concern is training on roads and racing on trails.
The rest seems to be a wash.


--
Doug Freese
"Caveat Lector"


  #5  
Old December 8th 03, 03:33 AM
Dot
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Default Death Valley Trail Marathon? For a 1st-timer?

Doug Freese wrote:


Dot wrote:



Short answer: It could be an excellent first marathon *IF* (notice the
really big IF) you have been doing hill work and are used to carrying
food / fluid with you. That is, have done more running than typical
1st time marathoners. There's still 2 months to train (actually 5 wks
and taper), but registration is likely to fill soon (4-8 wks out).



I took a quick look at the web page and I think the only concern might
be the footing in Death Valley National Park. Is it hard packed, sand,
etc.? This is the same area they run Badwater but they have aid
stations every 3 miles and Port-a-potties. Ahem, no place to hide if one
has to go. They do suggest you carry some fluid between aid stations.
Elevation is less than 500 feet so it's flat and possibly fast. It does
have a 6 hour cutoff which may be a concern.


I think you've got the "Death Valley Trail Marathon" on 2/7/2004
confused with the "Death Valley Borox Marathon" which was yesterday.
http://www.envirosports.com/exec/env...blicationID=42

This is the one the OP is talking about, I'm pretty sure - at least it's
on the same day
http://www.envirosports.com/exec/env...blicationID=42
"The Marathon course climbs 2,300 feet in the first 12 miles, then
descends 5,000 feet over the last 14 miles."

This is north of the Borax one and Badwater (I've got both maps out -
avoiding putting together a lecture for tomorrow .

Much nicer, IMHO (or maybe there's some nice parts along Badwater
that I've never seen pictures of, which could be)

Take a peak at photo (most are from one location).
http://www.brightroom.com/view_event.asp?EVENTID=2538
The footing looks pretty easy, unless this is an easy part of the trail.

But reading previous runners' comments, I didn't see anything to suggest
there were any nasties - just a nice honest marathon with some pretty
nice scenery. He'll definitely have to post pictures if he runs it

I also agree that the 6-hr cutoff could be an issue depending on the
OP's background and training. That's interesting that this has same
cutoff as the flat one - I wonder if the company has a thing about not
having races longer than 6 hr? I based my original comment on cutoff
for Fall Equinox which has more single-track and more elevation, but
broken up. I was thinking that was about 8 hr, but it's 10 hr (and I saw
reasonably strong, but slow, runners finishing in 6 hr). The 5k of down
in DVTM could be a nasty surprise for quads if not prepared = the final
downhill may not be all downhill OTOH 5k of down over 14 miles may
not be as bad as 3k of down over 2.5 miles.

Just another comment. It looks like it's the only access in that area,
but it does seem to have vehicles along the route so there is an escape
if needed. It's not like some of our races where you're in deep doggy-do
if you have some injury.

Dot

--
"Success is different things to different people"
-Bernd Heinrich in Racing the Antelope

  #6  
Old December 8th 03, 12:40 PM
Doug Freese
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Default Death Valley Trail Marathon? For a 1st-timer?

Dot wrote:


I think you've got the "Death Valley Trail Marathon" on 2/7/2004
confused with the "Death Valley Borox Marathon" which was yesterday.


How right you are. The though Borox was left off for brevity.
Reminds me of the old commercials for "Twenty Mule Team Borax"
laundry soap. I know different spelling but word association...

"The Marathon course climbs 2,300 feet in the first 12 miles, then
descends 5,000 feet over the last 14 miles."


While 2,300 over 12 miles is not too harsh I would agree and suggest
he not do this a first thon. This is a trail race and has all those
others nuances like carrying water bottles, possibly trail shoes,
gaiters not gators, etc etc.


--
Doug Freese
"Caveat Lector"


  #7  
Old December 9th 03, 01:39 AM
Don Kirkman
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Default Death Valley Trail Marathon? For a 1st-timer?

It seems to me I heard somewhere that Doug Freese wrote in article
:

Dot wrote:


I think you've got the "Death Valley Trail Marathon" on 2/7/2004
confused with the "Death Valley Borox Marathon" which was yesterday.


How right you are. The though Borox was left off for brevity.
Reminds me of the old commercials for "Twenty Mule Team Borax"
laundry soap. I know different spelling but word association...


Same spelling, same chemical, Dot's typo. The twenty mule teams used to
haul the borax out of the Death Valley area and send it on its way to
the processors. There was a fellow named Reagan that was also
associated, though a little bit indirectly, with Twenty Mule Team borax
(Boraxo was the actual product name). Boron, the name of the chemical
element involved, is also the name of a town in the region.

Now back to running: :-)

"The Marathon course climbs 2,300 feet in the first 12 miles, then
descends 5,000 feet over the last 14 miles."


While 2,300 over 12 miles is not too harsh I would agree and suggest
he not do this a first thon. This is a trail race and has all those
others nuances like carrying water bottles, possibly trail shoes,
gaiters not gators, etc etc.

--
Don

  #8  
Old December 9th 03, 07:30 AM
Dot
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Default Death Valley Trail Marathon? For a 1st-timer?

Don Kirkman wrote:

Same spelling, same chemical, Dot's typo.


Ooops, Freudian slip. Guess who was looking at some boron stuff for a
lecture today. Now I'm wondering if the students got some trail race
info inadvertently

Dot

--
"Success is different things to different people"
-Bernd Heinrich in Racing the Antelope

 




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