Race Date: November 5, 2017
Weather: mid-upper 40s, on-and-off wind and rain
Course: Flat and scenic rails-to-trails course
Run Again: Yes!
Before I dive into the race review, I must point out that there is some backstory to the buildup to this race (as in everyone in my family was sick in the week before the race and I had the most chaotic and stressful few days before the marathon that I have ever experienced.)
So I think it’s important to note that I almost bailed on this race and really felt like my mental game was not there on race morning. The only thing that got me to the start line that morning was the fact that I had a friend running the half and so I wanted to go along and support her and I figured I might as well get this whole marathon thing over with while I was there. Not exactly the mindset for a PR, now is it?
Yet PR I did, so it’s really made me think a lot about which rules are important and which rules are made for breaking.
But enough about me. You came here to learn about the race so let’s get going!
The Ridgway Turkey Trot Marathon is a 13.1 out-and-back that runs along the Clarion-Little Toby Rail Trail, a flat, fast and gorgeously scenic rail-to-trail path. I knew this race would be small, and you can see from the pic that it as indeed a small race. There were 8 runners on the marathon start line and 2 of them were doing the marathon relay (you can run the course as a relay in teams of 3.)
I really had no idea how this would affect me. I have run in ginormous races before (like NYC and Flying Pig,) and smaller races (like Nova Scotia and Raccoon Mountain,) but I have never before run a race where I didn’t see any other runners except for the start, finish, and turn-around. I’m not going to lie – it was weird, And I really could have used some of those NYC-sized crowds in the last few miles of this race. But as far as logistics go, this race could not be beat. And I certainly can’t say that for NYC.
I live close to Ridgway, and since the race started at 9am, I was able to wake up at a reasonable hour, have breakfast, and head out to the race that morning. The other big perk of the small race? I was practically treated like royalty by the race organizer and sponsor (local orthodontist, Dr. Cole.) Dr. Cole ran around the office making sure we had everything we needed (like Ziplock baggies for our gadgets since it was raining) and then we all walked to the start line. There were 4 women running the marathon and we all exchanged names and good lucks and then we were off.
As I mentioned, the marathon is a flat rails-to-trails course. I was worried about the “packed gravel” but it was really packed and not loose at all. Once caveat – when it rained, some section were a little bit muddy. Between the packed gravel (which is easier on the joints then a road but also uses more running economy), and the few sections of mud (probably added up to 0.1 overall) I’m sure that slowed me down by a few seconds over what I could have done on a road course. But then again, there were no turns on this course except for the turnaround, so I think it probably works out the same.
The race had 5 water stations at miles 1, 4.1, 5.8, 8.5 and 12.2. And you hit each one twice. The largest gap between stations was 3.7 miles. Three of the stations were staffed while two were self-serve with the cups already poured. Two of the stations also had Gatorade. No Gu’s or anything like that.
After the race, I was once again treated like royalty as Dr. Cole met me at the finish line and lent me an arm to lean on while he walked me to a picnic bench that was out of the rain. He then opened a Gatorade for me and got me a banana. Most importantly, he told me that his office was still open and there was a shower and masseuses offering free massages (whose tips were going to hurricane relief charity). I took him up on both and instantly felt one million times better.
Bottom line: If you are looking for an inexpensive, flat, fast, Boston-qualifying race course, check out this race. I’m hoping to be back next year to do the marathon relay or maybe the half depending upon where I am at in my training cycle. Hope to see you there!