At the start I had missed the first water stop and at the 2nd water stop I only got a tiny sip of Powerade. The sun was out and while the temperature was reasonable there wasn't an ounce of shade on the course. I wound up walking / half running the last mile or two with severe cramping in my calves. I've never experienced anything quite so severe before. I turned in a (disappointing to me) time of 4:16 -- my slowest marathon ever.
The race starts on Antelope Island -- a decent size island in the middle of the Great Salt Lake. The only inhabitants on the island are buffalo, antelope, an aging ranch and other wildlife.
The ranch that early Mormons used on the island
It is really a beautiful island and the course takes you along the east side of the island. You are running on paved roads upon some cliffs overlooking the lake. There are some hills rolling hills and only a few them were tough.
About mile 5 or so on the course.
Once you leave the island (after about 10 miles) you run about 7 more on the causeway to get back to the mainland. This is as flat as can be and on either side you are surrounded by the salt lake. It isn't the most pleasant smelling but it is certainly unique. Also those yellow flowers you see smell like stinky feet...
The causeway is in the distance
The final 7 miles (or so) is along farm roads and back into the town of Layton. Some parts of it reminded me of rural Illinois but it was a steady incline to the finish line. Overall I have to give big props to the management of the race. They did a fantastic job and the course was spot on and the water stops were excellent. I'd definitely recommend this race.
After the race -- and after I recovered enough from the dehydration I drove back to the island. During the race I didn't see much wildlife out, but upon my return visit (to further explore the island) the buffalo were out in force. Driving back to the start of the race required me to come to a complete stop to wait for the buffalo to finish crossing the road several times.
|Buffalo on Antelope Island|
I also managed to make it to the beach where you can actually swim in the Great Salt Lake -- not that you'd want to. The water stinks and the brine shrimp look like brown maggots. It just isn't a very nice lake -- especially if you are used to the gems that the midwest has. That didn't stop people from going in the water. The beach was nice, however, there was an overpowering smell of stale briny water that over powered the area...
Antelope Island is definitely worth a visit. You do have to pay to get access to the island ($9) but overall it was a beautiful drive with lots of history there. I would try to bring a lunch next time and spend some time on the beach relaxing. The smell wasn't that bad if you got far enough away from the water. Also I would recommend the race to anyone looking for a scenic, yet challenging half or full marathon.
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