HOW TO ACCIDENTALLY CREATE A MARATHON – THE WINTHROP MARATHON

05.27.2012

Finisher Medal - Winthrop

As is often the case when I get personally interested in an event, I tend to also want to post something to the blog about it.  In order to get the proper flavour and info on the Winthrop Marathon (and Half Marathon), an event I have never done even though I have been eyeing it with interest since its inception, I decided to ask the Race Director, James Varner, for some comments or quotable quotes. Here is what he had to say.
 
“The Winthrop Marathon was created totally unintentionally. At the time I was only a trail race director, hard, slow, steep, mountain trail races at that. [Ed Note: you can usually find James hanging out over at Rainshadow Running]  And, I had only run two road marathons and less than 10 road races total (compared to 60 or so ultra-marathon trail races) in my dozen years of running. A road race wasn’t even something I was thinking about three years ago when I stumbled upon the Winthrop Marathon race course while on a bike ride.”
 
“A buddy who was training for one of his crazy 500 mile or so bike races came to visit for the weekend.

Headin' fer Town. Winthrop, that is.

So we went for a ride right from my house up the Chewuch River Rd towards the Canadian Border. As we rode further and further up the forested river valley with the mountains of the Pasayten Wilderness towering overhead and the river roaring alongside the road it dawned on me that the road was paved for almost 26 miles from town. In my head the gears started turning: a paved road with very little vehicle traffic, that’s mostly in the national forest, that follows a scenic river, surrounded by wilderness and mountains and goes downhill all the way to fun little “old west” themed town. Hmmm….”

 
Trail runners seek out the hardest, rockiest, steepest, trails to race on. I asked myself what do road marathon runners want? They want a fast time, a PR, a BQ! The Winthrop Marathon starts at about 3100ft and finishes at 1800ft gives runners the chance to run fast(if they can handle all that down that is!). And to really make for a special marathon I throw in the low key, fun comes first philosophy that my races are known for, a super cool finisher’s medal, a top notch post race meal/celebration including local micro brew, ice cream, and live music for no extra charge. A scenic, old school, downhill marathon was born!”
 

Getting closer!

So, there you have it, right from the RD’s mouth!  There are some great photographs at the event web site, in addition to the ones kindly provided for this piece.  I am now into the last couple of weeks of preparation and scaling back my run distance as the big day approaches.  I will admit, I’m looking for a good time – probably not a PR or BQ.  Not the PR, because my actual Marathon PR was set some 24 years ago.  And, not the BQ because due to my own limitations, which have too many times been described here, and the new more difficult standards for the BQ.  After a terribly frustrating injury filled year in 2011, I AM looking for a good marathon performance.  What does that mean?  I’ll tell you when it is over and I decide whether or not I achieved the goal.  Running this Spring has been considerable in volume and rather minimalist when it comes to racing.  Winthrop will only be my fourth race in 2012.  So far each race has taken me to a new standard or level of satisfaction and has been used as underpinning to whatever will happen at Winthrop.  Haven’t decided if I am running with or without my cowboy hat.  Think I will probably reserve it for before/after.  A good performance COULD give me a well placed age-graded time – maybe a new #2 or, dare I think it, maybe even a new #1 AG time.  Now I guess that WOULD be one of those PR’s James mentioned – Age Graded PR.  Hmmmm – has a nice ring to it!

 
Clearly, this is all getting way too far ahead of where we are today.  For now, my wife Judi and I are just looking forward to the experience and all the good neighbourly fun James is promising.  Usually, Judi just cheers me on and rings her signature cowbell, but this time she will tackle the Half in her own right.  Only issue there is who is going to ring that bell for the both of us!? 
 
I know the entry was almost full, but if this description has got you interested, I will advise that you scurry, was going to say ‘mosey’ (might be too slow), over to the web site and sign up.  Sure am looking forward to this one for just a whole string of reasons, the biggest one being that running should be fun, and THIS sure sounds like fun to me!

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