Sunday, August 21, 2016

Gateway to La Caille 7K Race Recap - Granite, UT

Official Time: 36:48
Placement: 2nd in age group, 24th overall
Results: Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: 70 at start, no wind
Garmin Dump: Here

Mile  Time Comments
1 8:21 Mild incline here. Holding back a bit.
2 9:26 Here is where the hills start
3 8:15 Reach the summit, and get some downhill
4 7:21 Pretty much all downhill from here.
4.33 3:23 Up the driveway of the restaurant.  Heart break hill here that stops you dead in your tracks
Total Miles: 4.33 - 36:49


In 2014, I did the Gateway to La Caille 7K. It was their inaugural year and they did a good job.  When the race returned in 2015, I was out of town and missed out on it.  However, this year they held it on a Sunday, which is very rare to have happen in Utah.  Apparently the venue was booked for weddings and this was the only time to hold it.  Surprisingly, people showed up....

This race starts and finishes at the French Restaurant La Caille, which is on the pricey side.  I've only been there for the races and while I do like good food (believe it or not), I am not a huge fan of French food (it seems to be low on quantity for a big eater like myself).

Looking for something to do Sunday morning, I figured why not run the race and get some speed work in.

The Race

I rolled in at 6 AM and picked up my bib.  I was one of the first ones there.  I managed to use the rest room and the time flew by pretty quickly.  I didn't get a shirt and saved $5 off registering.  I am glad I didn't get one -- they were white and looked fairly boring.

Predawn start line

The race started at 7 AM and almost immediately you start a gentle climb.  I remembered the course from the last time I did it and I started off fairly conservatively, as I knew there were more hills to climb.

Looking at the first mile
I felt pretty good and I was pacing myself off of a friend of mine (DK) who was at Friday night's Midnight Moon 5K.  I was able to tail him for a bit but I couldn't hang in there.  By the half way point, I knew I wasn't going to catch him.

The climb to the mouth of Little Cottonwood canyon is a decent ascent. A few people who were keeping pace with me died off here.  It was hard to enjoy the scenery, which was awesome:  million dollar mansions below me and the looming mountains of the canyon above me (sorry no pictures, I was racing).

At the half way point, the course finally gets "fun".  They had a water station, which I greedily grabbed a cup of water (my mouth was so dry) and rinsed my mouth  out.  I braced myself for the downhill section.

At first the downhill is fairly mild, but as the race proceeds the hills become more pronounced.  By the time you can see the entrance to La Caille, you are coming down a massive hill.  I tried to push it here as much as I could, but I am not a super fast downhill runner and I know there is a price to be paid in regards to your knees and general running health.  It was exhilarating to knock out low 7 minute miles here with the aid of gravity.

You can see the downhill nature of the course -- you come down this road.

The final .35 miles is painful, but stunning.  You are basically running up the main driveway to the restaurant.  The road is cobblestone with a French flair to detail.  It starts off innocently enough -- just a little bit of an incline and certainly manageable.

The arch to the finish

However, just after the 4 mile marker, the "fun" begins.  There is a 100 yard hill (or so -- it feels like a quarter mile) and your downhill fatigued legs need to respond to the hill.  I hit it as hard as I could, but I could barely manage a shuffle.

I had a guy on my heels, who I thought might be in my age group (he was quite a bit younger) and we duked it out on the hill.  I figured he had me beat, but the hill hit him just as hard as it hit me.  Luckily, I recovered faster and sprinted to the finish line (which is about 200 yards from the top of the hill).


The best part of this race is the finish.  Your race entry gets you into the breakfast buffet which featured oranges, bananas, coffee, juice, fried potatoes, pastries, meat, and eggs.  You are allowed one pass through the line (/cry).  Good stuff.

I spent a good amount of time socializing with DK and some "new" friends.  The environment was totally relaxing and fun.  

I managed to (luckily) place in my age group.  I snagged a very nice, glass medal.  It was like the 2014 edition and it is a high-quality piece of work.  While my time was quite a bit slower than 2014's race (about 90 seconds I think), I was happy to finish in "the money".  Each finisher also got a pin to commemorate the occasion.

After eating and collecting my award, I wandered the grounds.  If you haven't been to La Caille before, the landscaping is just astonishingly well kept and beautiful.  So many photo opportunities of the sun rising over the canyon.  A totally pleasurable experience.

I really enjoyed this race.  It is a bit pricey, $35 + service fee for no t-shirt option, but you get what you pay for:  a solid race, with some beautiful scenery and a yummy party at the end.  I left with a pleasant memory and one I will want to repeat next year.

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