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Big Cottonwood Half Marathon


This was the inaugural year for this event. And they put on one amazing race.

You can always tell if a race is organized by runners or by…anyone else. Runners understand what is important in the race day experience, and what’s not.

The pictures were well done…and free!

From the get-go, they marketed the Big Cottonwood Half really well. Not with annoying fliers at every other event (I’m looking at you Provo Halloween Half), but with Internet ads. And they offered great discounts for things like liking them on Facebook. And…they sold out, months in advance of the race.

With the first pre-race email, I knew this was going to be different. They promised race day gloves in the race packet (sweet!), and emergency blankets at the start (which promised to be very chilly). Then they moved start time back half an hour so it’d be a little warmer and a little lighter.

Next? An email saying if you follow the instructions (like them on facebook, something else that took no effort), you’d get your race day pics…FREE! FREE?!?!?!? Race day pics are never free, and they’re expensive, so you usually rely on pictures taken by friends and family. They’re reasoning? ‘You already paid for the race, why should you pay more for photos.’

Parking for the shuttle bus at the beginning was the only hiccup in the day. There were too many cars going into too little a space. Also, bad directions. Thank goodness for my little car, because at one point I had to make a 3-point turn in the parking lot in which everyone else was having a big problem finding space to turn around.

Buses? Great organization. Emergency blankets at the very, very dark start? Awesome. Colleen and I chose not to use the bag drop, but from the looks and sounds of it, that was really well done, too.

We started out at 6:30, just as the sun barely started peaking over the mountains behind us. As it got higher (and we ran farther down the canyon), the sun lit up amazing fall colors. The aid stations were always stocked, the volunteers were incredibly awake and excited, and the mileage markers were perfectly spaced. THAT, I love, because I find misread mileage during races to be incredibly annoying. If my Garmin can keep better distance tracking than yours…then as a race director, you have the wrong equipment.

The whole race was well marked (not that you can really lose your way running down a one-road canyon), but for the one mile after the canyon, too.

And the finish line? Tons of people (always nice), great food at the end (including Popsicles? Best post-race food I’ve ever had!), and a lot of fun.

Do I sound like a spokesperson? Well I would gladly be. It was great. I love running downhill races with Colleen, who had a PR of about 6 or 7 minutes as we came in around 2 hours, 6 minutes. When the open registration for next year (hopefully within a few weeks), I’m signing up immediately.

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