Challenging Course (about: 2004)|
d. S. from FL (5/2/04)
50+ previous marathons
| 1 Trestle Valley Marathon
The start temp was in the low 40's. The wind was in your face for most of the race. Wind was always at least 25 mph. Some said wind was possibly gusting into the 40mph range. Went out slow for the first 3 miles which was a loop around the southwest part of town. The field of runners was closely packed early on and this was an opportunity to draft.
The only fans on the course are at the start at the YMCA; you pass them just before the 3-mile mark and they were very vocal and supportive. Once you leave the YMCA, it?s off to several miles of prairie running. The field also thinned out once you left the YMCA for the prairie. Heading in the valley we did get the wind at are back. The descent into the valley was quick with the steep descent and wind at your back. As I began my climb out of the valley the train went by on the trestle bridge.
As you are coming out of the valley the dirt section begins around 9.5 mile mark. Shortly after hitting the dirt, you hit the second hilliest section on the course. I ran this entire section into the wind. Around hitting mile 12 or so you do a loop until you hit 18. The loop course is a lot of prairie. It is mostly flat but there were some small rolling hills on this portion. There was also still un-melted snow on the ground in a few places on this portion. On the loop the wind continued to be a factor. Towards the end of the loop we did get the wind at our back again.
Descent returning to trestle valley: as you are descending into the valley you get a glimpse of the worse hill on the course. The wind was in your face going up the hill. I alternated between walking and jogging up the hill. You really could not run very fast up that hill with the wind pounding at you. I used this as an opportunity to recharge with some gel and fluid. Once you get to the top of the hill you still have the strong headwind to deal with. The best part of this course was the last 3 miles. Strong wind at your back for the last 3 miles back to the YMCA.
The field was small - less than 100 people. What I saw was that as long as you kept running into the wind, it was really hard to pass any one or be passed. This is not a PR course. I was amazed that the winner broke 3 hours, but he knows the course and has run it before. Aid support was good; Gatorade and water every two miles until 20, then every mile after that. It did warm up a little bit later on and it was sunny the whole time. Sometimes it felt like you were getting warm when the wind was at your back. There are not very many porta-potties on the course, but they were strategically placed at miles 6, 12.5, 18.5, 23.
The post-race party was well done. Pasta and pizza and they seemed to do the awards quickly. Probably most of the people got awards because of the small field. Age group awards were paintings/drawings of the Trestle Valley Bridge. The finisher?s medals were different. They are made out of a clay type material with an impression of the bridge.
The only thing negative I could say about the race is that it?s been over a week after the race and results have not been posted yet on the web. They did say results would be posted the next day in the Minot Daily News, but some of the runners including myself left Minot after the awards ceremony. Their website information could really use some improvement. There isn't much info on the website about the race. More information about the race details would probably attract more runners. The pre-race packet instructions and course map were excellent. Need to put this kind of info on website and more people will consider running this race.
This was a fun unique running experience. The only other marathon I'd compare it with is Yakima. There too I saw a train going through the Yakima Valley.
Now for some travel tips. Minot is a small town in the middle of the ND prairie. I do not recommend flying directly to Minot. If you fly into Minot and stay there, there really isn't much to see or do in the immediate surrounding area. Northwest Airlines is the only carrier flying into Minot and they only have 3 flights in and 3 flights out of Minot each day. I recommend flying into Bismarck. I got into and quickly out of the Bismarck airport. Use Enterprise to rent a car in the terminal at the Bismarck airport. I paid $35 for an economy car for the entire weekend with unlimited mileage. There are only two other rental car companies in the Bismarck terminal and they wanted something like $35 a day with only 150 miles per day mileage.
Once you leave the Bismarck terminal, it?s a straight shot to Minot - a little over a 100 miles. But I recommend stopping and seeing some of the sites along the way. I stopped at the ND Heritage Center on the grounds of the state capitol. This is a museum of ND history including some fossils of prehistoric creatures. Then I proceeded about 40 miles north of Bismarck to the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center/Museum. Included in admission is a tour of a reconstruction of nearby Fort Mandan along the Missouri River. After leaving Lewis and Clark, I headed straight for Minot.
Not a thing to do in the Minot area, as I said previously, so after the race I headed 2 1/2 hours west to the badlands of North Dakota. Go to the north unit ? it?s less crowded then the south unit. I had to stop my car several times because of all the bison in the road. Had plenty of time to see the badlands as it doesn't get dark until about 9pm this time of year. After leaving the badlands around 8pm, I got back to Bismarck at about 11pm.
I got into Bismarck around 12:30 on Friday afternoon. The race was Saturday and my flight left Bismarck at 11:30 on Sunday. Managed to go tour the Bismarck waterfront before my flight, where there is a trail and replica of the Lewis and Clark keelboat.
Strongly recommend this race. If you need big crowds, big support and running in an overpriced concrete jungle like NYC, this race is not for you. If you go, the badlands are beautiful, way more beautiful then the chaos of a place like New York.