Park City Marathon
June 16, 2001
Race Report by Bob Dolphin
The fifth running of the Park City Marathon in Utah was held on Saturday, June 16, 2001, and it was a marvelous event. Park City lies in a mountain valley about 30 miles east of Salt Lake City in the Wasatch Mountains. This small city remembers its mining (silver and lead) origins, but it is now know for it downhill skiing and year-round tourism. The Sundance Film Festival is one of many events to draw visitors to this picturesque city that will be part of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. Lenore and I had spent a week here about three years ago, so we enjoyed our trip to familiar surroundings.
Race director Dan Earl, Russell Schwartz and other co-ordinators put on a well-organized event, and things went smoothly. To avoid heavy road traffic on US 40 and two state highways leading to Park City, a unique course was developed. Leaving the Park City High School track at 6:00 a.m. with cool, clear conditions and an air temperature of 40 degrees, approvimately 400 runners ran a double loop of seven miles around a golf course bordered by resort housing. We then ran to a gravel trail laid down on a former Union Pacific Railroad road bed. For seven miles we ran on an easy downgrade or flat stretch through field and wetland with vegetated hills and mountains in view. In the second half of the race we ran on blacktopped roads of rolling terrain in new suburbs or established farmland. At 22 miles we were on a scenic trail for three miles and then arrived in the suburbs to finish on the high school track where we had started.
It sounds easy and pleasant enough, but a newspaper account reported the Park City Marathon as the toughest of the four in Utah. From my experience I feel the reasoning for this is as follows: (1) The elevation. The course runs between 6,700 and 6,900 feet above sea level. The locals may thrive at this altitude, but those of us who live at or near sea level struggle to get enough oxygen to the running muscles. (2) The air temperatures. It was about 40 degrees at the start, and at 6:00 a.m. the sun was behind the hills. For the next two hours it was comfortable with a cooling head wind. However, by the last 10K it was hot!! The temperature had climbed to the low 80's, and most runners fell off of their pace. (3) The trails. Because the rebound effect from pavement was lacking, the trails did not lend themselves to fast running. Dodging rocks, horse footprints and bicycle ruts impeded progress. Those conditions would be ideal for ultra-runners on their way to the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run in the California Sierras the following weekend. I would recommend this marathon to anyone training for Western States.
Apparently, the leaders in the men's and women's races didn't have any trouble with the difficulties that I listed. The first men finishers ran together for 18 miles until Paul Rosser, 36, of Springville, Utah, pulled away. He finished in a time of 2:43:18. In second place was Ronald Greenwood, 33, of Pleasant Grove, Utah (2:44:28). The course record holder, Dave Spence, 30, of Salt Lake City finished in 2:47:41 for third. There were incredible performances by the first two women finishers as they each ran their FIRST marathon! Joanna Nielsen, 23, of Salt Lake City not only won with a 2:58:17, but her sub-three hour finish set a new course record. In second place was Christine Boren, 19, of Provo who ran a 3:07:37. Next was Aimee Larkin, 24, of Salt Lake City with a 3:10:16. All three had broken the course record.
My race went fairly well. With a 9:10 first mile, I knew I would be running slowly and end up in the 4:30-5:00 hour range. For miles I just enjoyed the scenery and natural history. Off and on in the early miles, I visited with Stephen Farr, 58, and his daughter Rachael Farr, 21, both of South Ogden, Utah. Rachael is in the U.S. Army and will be transfered to Fort Lewis, WA, in the near future. They ran together and finished in 4:33:05 and 4:35:08 respectively.
I felt fine for 20 miles but then had to struggle with the heat, leg cramps and a 12 minute pace. Eventually, I found the finish line on the track and completed the marathon with a time of 4:38:41, 235th of 369 finishers, and first of two in the 70-99M category. Lenore gave me my finishing medal. She was a volunteer in many places for this race.....working at packet pickup from 5:00-6:00 a.m., helping at the 3.5 mile aid station, and then presenting medals to all finishers (from the winner to the last finisher.) She was surprised when two separate runners called out, "YAKIMA," when they saw her as they finished the marathon. They were runners from Maryland and Indiana who had competed at our March 31st YAKIMA RIVER CANYON MARATHON.
There were many runners to talk with at the pasta feed the evening before the marathon as well as on race day. Our friends Chuck and Sue Cammack were there from Albany, Oregon. Chuck ran a 3:47:27 race. Fifty-staters were well-represented as well as others wishing to become members by traveling to and running marathons in new states. Mike Smith, 43, (4:02:41) from the Indianapolis, IN, area is one of these. He was at the YRCM in Washington and the Coeur d' Alene Marathon in Idaho in recent months. Ray Scharenbrock, 67, (6:07:33) of South Milwaukee, WI, megamarathoner extraordinaire, ran his 404th marathon at Park City. He will complete his 6th 50 States & DC cycle by the end of the year.
Bob Lehew, 58, Race Director of the Oklahoma Marathon at Tulsa, and his wife Kathy were on hand. Bob and his friend, Lori Smith, 48 of Park City ran together and had a commendable 4:12:26 finish. The youngest runner was Trase Benson, 13, of Hyrum, Utah. He ran his third marathon in a time of 6:10:51 and earned a classy acrylic plaque with the Park City Marathon logo.
Thanks to the volunteers who cheerfully provided water, Powerade, GU and encouragement to the runners. Also, thanks to the other volunteers who filled many roles associated with the marathon.
Written by Bob Dolphin