Sunday, June 22, 2014

Race Report: Banff Marathon 2014

Also known as: my big DNS (did not start)

It is so weird to be writing a blog post for a race that I didn't run, but I think that this will give me a certain measure of closure and I did end up still doing pretty much everything EXCEPT run it, as you will see.

Fracturing my leg RIGHT at the start of Marathon training SUCKED.   Beyond sucked.  I had hopes for this marathon.  It would be number 3 for me and the one where I finally got some time redemption (I hoped).  To have that dashed immediately was a huge blow to me.  To find out 4 weeks ago that my leg was STILL fractured made it impossible to even hope I could scale back to the half for it.  Even if I had to walk it.  This race was not meant to be.

But I still wanted that closure.  So I decided - why the heck not.  I will still go out to Banff and play like I would if I was running it: pick up my package, attend the expo, go to the runner briefing.  I can't recap the race for you all - but I can give you a bit of the lead up for future years.

The Expo

The expo for this race was held outside in Central Park in Banff, the day before the race.  There was an emergency packet pickup on race day but we were strongly encouraged to attend the expo if we could.  Especially since there would be a mandatory race briefing.

We got a bit of a late start, but hoped to make it to the expo in time to register the girlies for the Kid's race.  No such luck, as an outdoor concert in Banff had the streets packed with cars and people and as we turned in front of the park, we could see the kids running.  My girls were so disappointed - so we staged our own mini kids race and let them cross the finish line.

It's too bad that we missed the actual race because it looked like the kids got their own bibs and I saw some kids with medals too (they promised finisher ribbons so I am not sure that the medals were for the race).

Now for the Expo itself.

The first thing I noticed upon entering the park was the sheer volume of porta potties for this tiny race (only 1500 people in both the half and full total).  It was impressive.

And there were also flush toilets in the park as well - so I imagine they were well covered.

The expo was outside and was actually much larger than I expected for this race.  I remember running BMO Okanagan in 2011 and basically just having Bondiband and CEP there.   This expo was MUCH better than that.

As you can see - it was a GORGEOUS DAY for it.  Puffy white clouds and lots of sunshine.  Vendors like Powerbar, Helly Hansen, Suunto and Fast & Female were there.  There was also a booth selling run gear, but I think it might have been a local sport store.  They also had commemorative merchandise for sale.

Package pickup itself was pretty smooth.  There was one line for the half and one for the full.  I was surprised that the full line was the busy one.  I guess people really wanted to take advantage of a closed route through one of the most beautiful places on earth (like I did).

Even with the lineup - it went fast and soon, I had my own Helly Hansen bag full of goodies.

The ladies shirts were this bright green and the mens were black.  Included in the bag was also power bar samples, Soap from Rocky Mountain Soap and assorted flyers (including the Canadian Running Race Guide).

The bibs were much smaller than I expected.  A lot of the touting about this race is how there would be interpretive stations on the course and you could collect stamps from these stations on your bib.  These bibs, however, didn't look like the ones in the advertising and didn't particularly have any spaces reserved for said stamps.  

The shirts were nice - short sleeve Zorrel brand tech shirts (my favourite brand of race shirt).

I didn't buy anything at the expo.  I did notice, however, that the river was really high.  Not as high as last year when the race was cancelled, though...

You probably can't tell, but the water is right up in the grass.

I also didn't stay for the race briefing.  I figured why rub salt in the wound.  Besides - I already knew, from the athlete update that was emailed that morning, that the race course had changed due to competing bear activity on the original route.

The Route

When I registered, it was entirely because of the route.  Closed course running out and back up the Bow Valley Parkway?  YES, PLEASE!  That is my absolute favourite highway in the province.  The new route would instead run up the Legacy Trail (beside the Transcanada) out past the park gates and back.  It is almost a blessing I couldn't run it because that is not the route I would have wanted to run.  It would still be very beautiful - it just wouldn't be as special as the parkway.

Now, I do think it is worth mentioning the facilities on course.  As we drove home, I couldn't help but notice that there were porta-potties on the trail and, by my odometer, pretty much spaced exactly 2k apart.  IMPRESSIVE!  Probably because it would be nearly impossible to have runners pack out their own shit during a marathon but after having run a facility-less half in February - this was a sight for sore eyes!

It's also worth noting that for race day today the weather was ABSOLUTELY PERFECT!

The Hard Question

So, now for the big question - would I register again?  I REALLY want to say that I would.  But I probably won't.  With the first year being cancelled and the route change this year - I just think having this race in Banff at the end of June is too volatile.  I know that May is much colder out there, but it is also a safer month to have it.  Less bear activity, lower chance of flooding, lower chance of rainfall (typically).  I'd take the slightly cooler temperatures and run the route I registered for rather than basically playing wait and see on the race.  Plus - this is NOT a cheap race.  At $150+ for the full - it is a pretty dear chunk of change for a race that really hasn't proven itself for delivering what it advertises.  Keep in mind that I registered during the Early Bird...the fees only went up from there.  And no refunds or deferrals. I couldn't even have transferred my bib if I'd had an interested friend.  I was lucky to be able to claim this through my personal spending account so it was free - and I did that because I didn't want to be out the money if the race was cancelled due to another flood.  I just lucked out that that insured me for this stupid stress fracture too.

So - you probably won't see me at the startline for this one in future years...but never say never.  Maybe if I win a lottery and can wait until closer to race day - I might.  It is certainly a well organized race and I look forward to seeing how they do in future years.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry you weren't/aren't able to run :( I would love to go to Banff, it seems like a fun race and well organized too.


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