Saturday, October 30, 2021

2021 Haunted Half 5K Race Recap Provo, UT

Official Time: 24:06
Placement: 3rd in age group, 104th overall 
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: 37F with breeze from the north
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: [2015]

Mile TimeComments
17:58Hemmed in a bit from a crowded start, but off to a good first mile
27:52Feeling strong
38:02First half of this mile I was cooking. Last half, not so much
3.040:14Cruising into the finish.
Total Miles: 3.03 - 24:08


It's been a while since I've been in Provo Utah to run the Haunted 5K.  It is the sister / companion race to the Salt Lake edition that I did last week.  After having a great race there last weekend, I decided to pony up and do the Provo edition and see if I could keep the good times rolling.

The race involved a bit of extra work -- in that I had to drive down to Provo (about a 35 minute drive each way) on Friday to get my bib. Normally, I wouldn't be bothered for a 5K, but it was more or less the only race in town.  And it was a big, competitive one.  So I figured why not. With the race season ending in about a month, I figured this one would be good to do.

The Race

I got to the race about 40 minutes before the scheduled start (8:30).  With over a 1000 runners in each the half marathon (which started significantly earlier) and 1400 runners for the 5K, I expected to have to park significantly far away.  It wound up being slightly over a quarter mile walk from my car to the race start.  Fortunately, the weather was absolute perfect.  While the air temperature was comfortable, it was still brisk.  

I wound up tracking down the bathrooms, used them and did a very brief warm-up.  I should have arrived about 15 minutes earlier.

The race started a little after 8:30.  I had managed to finagle myself up towards the front.  It was congested and had a mix of those racing and those participating.  So once they started us on our way I had to weave myself around people.

The first .2 of a mile definitely was slow as we exited the well-to-do Riverwoods shopping center and out onto the service drive.  I hadn't seen too many people my age -- as this race tends to draw a lot of younger runners -- but I wanted to run fast.  I had sort of aimed for this to be an "A" level effort.

We made a loop around the mall before being dumped on a bike trail on the east side of the mall.  I was running pretty well and I didn't want to chance even wasting time looking at how I was doing.  The course was pancake flat and at this point I could go as fast as I wanted without hindrance.

I hit the first mile just a hair under 8 minutes.  There weren't any mile markers on the course so I wasn't sure how far I had really run.  I've been having my Garmin tell me wrong information of late.

I decided to push harder.  I had spotted another guy that was probably in my age group and while I hadn't seen too many other people my age, I wasn't going to take any chances.  My goal was to keep up with him.

We hit the first aid station a little after a mile before heading back on another stretch of bike trail.  I could hear / see the mall but I knew we weren't close to being done yet.  I was hurting but I expected that -- 5Ks usually do once you start.

I was pleased to see mile 2 pop up faster than the first mile.  Right exactly where I wanted to be.  And to spur me on, I had passed under the 1.1 miles to go arch for the half marathoners.  Normally, I'd be worried that the course would be short, but I had measured the course using MapMyRun and I knew my Garmin usually measured short.

The last .75 of a mile was along a beautiful paved trail.  The oranges and reds lining the trail made it a perfect "fall" race.  

The final stretch was hard to get much turnover.  My legs felt like Jello and  we had to run through a tunnel and over a cobblestone path to the finish.  There just wasn't much to go on but fumes.  My sub 8-minute mile per pace was now showing around 8:30.  I tried as hard as I could to get just finish and finish strong.

I wound up not catching the guy who looked to be in the my age group.  I just ran out of real estate to turn on the jets.  After exiting the tunnel, I made a turn and next thing I knew I was running on cobblestone.  It just didn't seem feasible to sprint along this uneven surface.

I was really worried about whether I had finished in my age group.  Could the guy in front of me have cost me an age group award?  

Fortunately, the answer is no.  After finishing, I got a text message with a link to my results. I clicked on it and was happy to see a 3rd place age group award.  Score!


I was okay with the results of this race.  I did check several other Strava users to see this race did appear to be legit and I had pre-mapped it using MapMyRun and it had come in over 3.10.  So I feel pretty good about this race being a legitimate 5K.  

I recovered from the race pretty quickly and grabbed some water and collected my warm-up jacket.  The weather was nice and I knew many people there so the time from finish to awards went quickly.

Last weekend you waited in line to get your award.  This week, they had them announced, so it was nice to get a podium finish.  

Overall, I was happy with my experience.  The race was about what I'd expect to pay for a 5K in the week leading up to the race ($35 with a coupon code).  

They had a variety of post race refreshments.  Sports drink, fruit, donuts, and water.  The medals -- as usual - are stunning and heavy.  I also had a packed swag bag with coupons, samples, gloves, and a t-shirt.  I am not a fan of the 40% polyester / 60% cotton shirts, but I'd wear it for a light workout.  I also wound up picking up a legacy shirt for $3.00 at the expo.

I would definitely consider this race for next year assuming it fits in my race schedule.  My only gripe was the long drive to the packet pickup on Friday. The course was easy to navigate, marshalled and with adequate support.  Definitely worth doing.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

2021 Haunted 5K Race Recap - Salt Lake City, UT

Official Time: 23:49
Placement: 1st in age group, 47th overall
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: 50F,  less than 5 mph wind, some light rain.
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: [2020]

Mile TimeComments
18:37Slight uphill - probably ran 1.20 miles or so here
27:49Nice down hill section. Trying to salvage this race
2.947:23Final lap around the park. Mostly downhill and fast! Giving it everything I had
Total Miles: 2.94- 23:49
* Note Garmin lost connectivity at some point


So one of the big traditions for runners in the Salt Lake area is to run one of the Haunted races produced by Runtastic Races.  They are popular race organizers with a good reputation of putting on fun, well run events.  Their Halloween races are probably one of their biggest events.

In the past, I've done their Provo-based half marathon and last year I did the Salt Lake edition of their 5K, which was run on a hilly course near the city zoo.

This year, with Covid restrictions and concerns a bit on the backburner, this race was held at its original location: Sugarhouse Park, on the southeast side of Salt Lake City.  So while the race was a repeat of last year's, this was a brand new course to me.

The Race

The race started at 8:30 and I got to the race site at about 7:30 or so.  I had my bib picked up for me on the day before the race, so it was a fairly low stress start to the race.  With over 900 runners, I was glad I didn't have to wait in line, stress about parking, etc.  Not really knowing the layout of everything I wound up parking a LONG ways away, which would haunt me a bit later.

The weather forecasters had been predicting rain and the day was gloomy and cool.  Fortunately it was still relatively dry.  I've run a lot of races in bad weather and I figured I could deal with anything for a 5K.

About 30 minutes before the race start I made my way to the starting area.  I quickly realized I had parked far away.  I had brought a warm jacket so I was comfortable. There was some parking in the park, but it ultimately would've been challenging getting out of the park when the race ended. 

The race started promptly at 8:30 AM -- just as it started to drizzle a little.  Not the end of the world by any means and it actually was fairly pleasant to run in.  I was wearing throw away gloves, long sleeved t-shirt, and shorts -- which was absolutely perfect.

The starting line was pretty cramped but I managed to get myself wedged in with the top 50 or so runners.  With over 900 runners for the 5K, this was going to be a "full" race.

I had studied the course a bit and I knew the first mile to mile and a quarter were a slight uphill.  The next mile or so you earned back that uphill and the final mile was seemed to be mostly downhill with a tiny roller of a hill thrown in for fun.

My goal was to go out a little conservatively for the first mile, hammer the second and go all out on the third.

Initially I was hemmed in.  With such a narrow start line and plenty of runners, it took awhile to get going.  Fortunately, it opened up as we ran down the service road towards the entrance of the park.  It was indeed slightly uphill but nothing major and I let myself get acclimated to the 5K pace.

After about half a mile we exited the park, ran across a semi-busy street (weird  -- no course marshal here) and ducked into a residential area.  The street was banked, which I hate running on, so I sort of ran down the middle of the street.  It was tree lined with beautiful fall colors and mature houses.  I thought this was probably the prettiest sections of the course.

The hills continued here but they weren't too serious.  Just a gradual incline.  I felt good and in control of my pace.  It was humbling at times to be passed by runners in heavy costumes, but I kept going picking off other runners who had gone out too fast.

I was shocked-- actually stunned to see an 8:37 flash on my watch for the first.  I knew the course was uphill but I certainly wasn't running that slow?  Or was I really having a terrible race?

I thought about just calling this a fun run and not beating myself up too much.  But I've been training all year long on my speed.  Perhaps I had plenty in the tank and I would turn things around.

The course was supposed to be mostly uphill for the first 1.25 miles, but I noticed that immediately after my watch had beeped a mile that I was on the downhill section.  My turnover increased and I felt like I was racing again.  There were some people ahead of me in my age group (I felt) and I kept up with them.  I was mostly running with high school aged kids and people half my age.

We had made some sort of crazy loop around the neighborhood before being dump back out towards the main street and crossing again a fairly busy street without any supervision and re-entered the park.

There were a pair of signs at the entrance stating we were are mile 2.  The half marathon race also indicated they were on mile 12.  I glanced down at my watch and we were well under 2 miles.  Was my watch wrong?

The final mile was a lap around the service drive to the sprawling Sugarhouse Park.  There have been many 5Ks run on this course and years ago I had run a lap around the park for the Salt Lake City Marathon.  I had vague memories of it and it has a reputation of being sort of hilly.

I dug deep and decided I was going to run whatever was left of the course -- even if this was a short course -- as hard as I could.  

I still felt good but I was hurting.  I could see the finish line and hear the celebratory music as I made my way around the park.  I used a lot of my mental training that I've done -- the suffering is only temporary and I had put myself through more trying time trials in training.  I could handle this.

The last quarter mile involved running through a hundred yard tunnel or so.  They have it decorated and it is supposed to be scary.  It is a little dark and there are dangling streamers inside.  It definitely slowed me down, but it is part of the event.  At this point, I wasn't close to chasing anyone done and there wasn't anyone in my age group behind me.

I crossed the finish line in 23:49 and I glanced at my watch.  Was this at least a 3 mile race?  No, it simply shown I had run 2.94 miles in roughly my 5K effort.  Bummer


After finishing I went to print out my results.  They are really good about having computers where you can enter your bib number and get instant feedback on your placement.  I figured I was at best 3rd place in my age group.  It just seemed like there had to be more people ahead of me in my age group.  After getting my receipt I was shocked to see that I was currently in first place in my age group.  What???

I was glowing about my age placement but I was still stewing about my overall time.  The course wasn't that hilly.  I wound up grabbing something to drink (even though I wasn't terribly thirsty).  I also managed to get down a banana.  

It was starting to rain so I found shelter under a bowery and got my award.  Fortunately I did remain in first place so I scored a beautiful medal.

Once I got home I decided to do some detective work.  I had asked around after the race asking various Garmin watch owners what they had measured the course as.  Most got around 3.07, some 3.08 and finally some with a  legit 3.10 miles.

So I looked at my Garmin map and obviously my watch had misrecorded a bit of the race.  It had me running through houses. I used MapMyRun and carefully traced out the route, which came to about 3.15 miles.  So if I ran the tangents and not the middle of the road as MapMyRun likes to do, I suspect the course was a very real 5K.  My spirits definitely increased as I found more Strava users with accurate course measurements.

So this race really went well for me.  I ran right where I had hoped I'd finish and I won my age group.  

The race was a bit expensive for a 5K but I was a late registrant and had a coupon code.  There was candy, fruit (oranges and bananas), slices of pizza, sports drink and water at the end.  The finisher's medal for the 5K was nicely designed   The shirt was colorful and also a nice Halloween design.  I just wish it was a 100% polyester blend.

I was really excited after finishing this race.  A little more than a year ago, this race would've been likely a 25 minute finish.  I felt really good on this race and actually was itching to do another one -- soon!

Saturday, October 16, 2021

2021 Dimple Dell Half Marathon Race Recap - Sandy, UT

Official Time: 2:11:09
Placement: 58th overall, 10th out of 15 in the 50 - 59 age division
Results:  Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: Mid to upper 40's at the start. Rain / hail
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: First Year For Me (race held 10/9/2021)

Mile TimeComments
19:06Very conservative start -- just easing into the race
29:13On to the trail. Actually felt good here
39:44Begin the climbs to the Wasatch bench
411:24Did a bit of walking here
510:18Feeling like trash. Made a wrong turn here, so it cost me about a minute
713:39Steepest part of the run. Power hiking the worst of it and doing little dashes when I can
89:39Finally can lope down some of the downhills
108:47Could I salvage this race?
119:14Enjoying the downhills.
129:27Starting to rain. Running on fumes
12.9710:26Final push uphill and then half a lap around the park. 
Total Miles: 12:97 2:411:01


I'll be honest -- trail running is not my forte.  I am definitely a pavement pounder.  However that doesn't mean I am a tenderfoot -- it just means I don't do a lot of training on them.

So I got challenged / coerced / suckered into signing up for the Dimple Dell Half Marathon -- a 90% trail run in the heart of Sandy UT.  It is a thin strip of wilderness that runs from about the center of the valley to the eastern benches of the Wasatch Mountains.  

I've lived in this area for nearly 10 years and have only stick my toe into the area just once (I think).  I knew going in it was going to be both exciting, in that I'd get to explore this place and also very challenging.

The Race

All week long the weather forecasters had been predicting rough conditions.  Fortunately, for the most part, the weather didn't live up to the hype.

I was fully expecting to have to run a trail race in the rain.  When I arrived at the race site, it was spitting once in a while, but nothing serious.  There were ominous clouds on the horizon however.

The weather was chilly -- but not terrible.  I knew if there was a downpour, I'd definitely feel it.  I had brought just about everything I could think of for rough weather.  In fact, for the entire race I had a 30-gallon Glad bag stuffed in my pocket.  They work the best as a makeshift poncho.

I was one of the first to arrive so packet-pickup was a snap and I had less than 40 minutes to kill.

We all assembled in a line, got course instructions and took off.  

The race started at Lone Peak park -- a community park with a paved loop around the outskirts of it.  I would guess this loop is about .75 of a mile or so.  We had to make two loops around it before starting off on the trail.

I used this as my warm-up and I felt sluggish and stiff.  I had done a shake out run the day before, and maybe it was because I had done a challenging speed workout on Tuesday -- I just wasn't feeling extra "springy".  I wasn't too surprised that my first mile was very sedate.  

I kept telling myself to take it easy though. This race was hilly and my goal was to run the first 8 miles "easy" and then see what I had left for the final 5, which was mostly downhill.

The first couple of miles on the trail were beautiful.  It was shrouded with trees in all their autumn glory.  The trail was packed dirt and despite the recent rain, it was easy to run on.

I still felt like I was struggling.  My legs felt heavy and it seemed extra hard.  It was too early to be feeling this way.  About the 5K point I was contemplating tapping out.  How much agony did I want to put myself through and the hardest sections of the trail were coming?

Fortunately I kept on.  I decided just to enjoy the experience and get through it.  I paid for the race -- and I was going to run it.

After about 4 miles we were dumped into the heart of Dimple Dell.  It was more exposed now and I could see the areas where I needed to run.  The course also got decidedly more hilly.

I was enjoying the race a lot despite not running really fast.  I tried to keep my heart rate under control, walked the steepest parts of the course, and ran when I could.  The strategy did seem to work.

Around mile 5 I totally missed a turn. The course had been marked with pink ribbons and other than this one spot, it was well marked.  I was supposed to take a narrow path to the right instead of continuing on the main path.  I was leading a pack of runners and unfortunately a few other runners followed me.  Fortunately, I heard someone shouting that I had run the wrong way and the group of us turned around. This did wind up costing me a minute or so.

The next 3 miles or so were hilly.  I was suddenly hitting double digit splits as I power hiked the steepest sections.  It was almost like being on a hiking trail versus a running area.  I kept reminding myself not to get hung up over my times, get through this section and the "fun" part lied just ahead.

Finally mile 8 came up and we had reached the summit of the course.  I was pretty gassed at this point but the downhill sections gave me new hope and life.  My 10+ minute pace turned into upper 8's -- and I was completely happy with that.

I had been competing against several other runners.  The guy behind me in the picture above were running neck and neck throughout the race. It gave me something to work against.  I knew I wasn't really a contender for any age group (with 10 year age groups) but I still wanted to make a good showing out of it.

The final 3 miles or so was a repeat of the outbound section.  It was nice to know roughly how much further I needed to go.

Despite being I was able to get through the final 3 miles. However, I was really struggling the last mile.  I had taken half a gel about midway through, but my legs were just spent.  There was a soul killing final hill just before being dumped into park for the final half mile to the finish. I felt like I had run a marathon as I shuffled through the finish line. 


Clearly this race didn't go to plan. However, given that I haven't been doing much half marathon training and I have don't normally run on trails, I got about what I expected to.  I got the miles in, some character building experience and a finish.

It had started to run the final 2 miles, so after finished I beat a hasty retreat to my car for warmer clothes and a Pepsi, which always settles my stomach.  I actually bounced back pretty quickly despite having felt like warmed over death in the final mile.

So I may sound pretty glum about the race, but I actually did enjoy it.  The scenery was just beautiful with the heavy cloud cover over the Wasatch mountains

Post race refreshments were some epic donuts, bananas a drink.  I am modeling the technical t-shirt above and the medal was a wooden one that I understand was made locally.  For about $55 week-of-registration -- I got what I expected out of this race.

Other than the one turnoff that I missed, the course was well marked and easy to follow.  There were enough runners running that I was never solo but I wasn't cramped (except perhaps the first quarter mile).  There were 3 water stops, photo stations, and gels.  I carried an 8 ounce flask of water as well, which I used periodically.

For a local race with just over a 100 runners, this was fun. I didn't place well in my age group (thanks in part to the 10 year age increments) but I had fun with this race.  I used it to get in some difficult miles and experience a new route.  I would recommend this race to those looking for a challenge and I would do it again next year if my training / schedule permitted it.