Saturday, September 2, 2023

2023 Swiss Days 10K Race Recap - Midway, UT

The hill climb near the end of mile 2.

Official Time: 50:45
Placement: 73rd overall, 2nd in the 50 - 54 age division
Results: Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: Mid 50's, damp, little to no wind
Garmin Dump: Here
Previous Years: [2022] [2021[2019] [2018] [2017] [2016]

Mile TimeComments
18:04Decent start. Initial downhill and then a grind uphill
29:11A couple of hills here.  This is the slowest mile of the race
38:38One last hill, then down it and into the flats. Trying to rebound
47:50Love this mile.  Downhill and get back to 5K race pace
58:05Just wrapping up the downhill, but now the flats until nearly the finish.
68.29Grind uphill then mostly flat until the finish.  Just wanting to be done.
6.060.25Sprint to the finish!
Total Miles: 6:06 - 50:45


For many years now, I've been toeing the line at the Swiss Days 10K.  Swiss Days is celebrated Labor Day weekend (the first weekend of September) in Midway, UT.  The day commemorates the city's Swiss heritage.

The city has a massive fair that is very popular, resulting in a lot of people showing up to shop at local craft vendors, eat food, and hear music.  There is also a popular parade.  The event lasts several days and Saturday is always the busiest day of the festival.

The final day of the fair kicks off with a 10K, which has been running for many years now (I heard a rumor from the late 70s).  Usually it is popular with the local high school cross country teams but several hundred people show up for the hilly race -- along with a contingent of kids for the kids' run. It is budget friendly and the course is simply beautiful (but challenging).

Starting area

The Race

The race is an early one -- it starts at 7 AM at a local LDS Stake.  I always get there early to snag a prime parking spot and get settled in.  It is just less than an hour drive from the Salt Lake Valley to Midway and it was raining lightly most of the way.  I think I've run the race before when it was raining prior to the start, but this was probably the most prominent.  

Being one of the first one there, I managed to get my bib in short order.  I did a quick shakeout run and some drills.  I felt okay but not super springy.  I had to keep in mind that I was up about another 1000 feet compared to where I usually live (5300 feet).

The race started about 10 minutes late.  It isn't chip timed and I had managed to jockey myself into a pretty good position.

I started off strong but in control.  I knew the first half of the course was primarily uphill and going out too fast would cost me in the second half.  I had found some other runners who were running a similar pace to mine and I tucked in behind them.

I wanted to get off to a good start, so I pushed it more than usual, netting a fast first mile (8:04).  I had studied my splits from last year and I knew I was ahead of schedule.  Good news, since I was attempting to run better than last year (50:53) and potentially beat my best time (49:40).

Mile 2 is where reality sets in.  This is where the bulk of the hills are on the course.  I felt like I was redlining and my breathing went from "working" to taxed.  I slowed up a bit and the runners who I had passed overtook me.  I felt like the race was slipping away from me but I also reminded myself this was my weakest area and that I would probably rebound once I got through this section.

The nice thing about this part of the race, though, is that you are greeted with some majestic views of the eastern facing Wasatch mountains.  They were cloaked in clouds and there were hundreds of wild sunflowers lining the roads.  Mile 2 came up over 9 minutes -- definitely slower than last year.

I grew a little despondent.  This wasn't going to plan.

I ran a little further up the final hill and was finally greeted with the turn around.  I could've hugged the sign.  Normally I don't run terribly well uphill and my training neglects that aspect -- so when I do run uphill, it is a matter of just getting up it, no matter the pace, and then rebound when I am done with it.  

As soon as I turned the corner, I felt my pace quicken and those that had passed me suddenly found themselves being pursued aggressively by me.  Perhaps I could salvage this race!

Having dealt with the uphill and now getting the downhill, I was okay with getting an 8:38.  Not where I wanted to be, but the worst of the course was now over and the rest of course was primarily downhill.

I began overtaking other runners as I gained confidence in being able to gut out the second half of the race.  We had left the outer limits of the Wasatch State Park and were returning back into the well-to-do neighborhoods of Midway.

Mile 4 was hit at 7:50 -- fabulous! But to be honest, I was expecting to do a bit faster.  At this point, I wasn't sure if I was on pace to meet or beat last year's race.

I kept an eye out for my competitors -- and I wasn't sure what the age divisions were this year -- so anyone over the age of 40 was my competitor.  I was running solo for the most part, but I knew I had masters aged runners behind me.

With about a mile to go, I was still running low 8-minute miles.  I had benefited from the remaining downhill and my confidence was buoyed that I could at least come out ahead this year.

Unfortunately, I hit the skids, so to speak in the last mile.  I knew it would happen.  I was running on flats and my legs were shot.  Last week's downhill race could still be felt and I had used up too much energy on the uphill portion of this race.  One of my competitors passed me and I knew I didn't have anything to keep up with him.  I hoped he wasn't in my age group.  

I knew another runner who I suspected was going to be in my age division was closing in on me.  He was surrounded by several other runners of various ages.  Last year the age division was 50 - 64 (normally it was the typical 5-year splits) so I had no idea where I stood.  Fortunately the race is generous with awards up to 5 deep.  I turned the final corner and I knew the finish line was close, but still far away.  I knew the guy ahead of me was likely unreachable -- I just needed to solidify my position.

The mile markers were mostly off after about mile 3 or 4.  My Garmin's alert usually came in several yards after the mile marker and it was growing with each segment.  The course always comes in around 6.10 but this time I must've really run the tangents well, as I was coming in at a low 6 miles.

In the last quarter mile, I dug down -- recalling all the strides / speed sessions I had done in the months prior to this race.  I knew I could handle it, just get it done for another 90 seconds or so and shave off a few additional seconds.

Finally I crossed the finish line. I put on a brave face though, knowing that the finish line is recorded for YouTube.  So I managed to get past the camera before bending over, hands on knees, gasping for breath.


All smiles at the finish


So going into the race, I came in with the attitude that this was an "A" race for me.  I was all in and I was striving for the best time possible for this course.  Having run the course a bunch of times and having trained for the 10K most of the summer, I felt that today was a good day to break 50 minutes on this course.

While the weather was great, my body just wasn't ready to smash the course.  I was on vacation for the first 3 days of the week -- eating too much food and I've done so many races of late.  I wasn't rested enough and I am probably heavier than I should be - or want to be.

So I am not totally surprised by today's outcome.

I did, however, manage to finish 2nd in the 50 - 54 age division.  The race has gone back to the 5-year age increments, which are standard for most races.  They also were giving out their giant glass steins as age group awards.  I have a few of them and the 2023 edition will be a nice add to the collection.

Post race refreshments included, bananas, chocolate milk, fruit and of course high-end donuts.  Half the reason why I drive nearly an hour to this race is for the post race donuts.

Mmm.... post race food!

The race did start late, but overall I was happy with my experience.  The price of the race has gone up over the past few years (what hasn't?).  But I love the course and there is a good vibe by all the participants there.  I also like how the race's award system is pretty simple.  Just show your RunnersCard timecard and pick up your award.  

I love the age group award.  The t-shirt, is nicely designed, but it is cotton.  I likely won't wear it much except to bum around the house.  

After the race I did circle the fairgrounds a bit.  It isn't really my thing to shop for that sort of stuff, but I checked it out.  They had a lot of food offerings, but I had made a mini meal on a donut and fruit.  

After last year, I thought this year might be my last year doing this race.  But after this year, I'll definitely be back and hopefully next year I can crack sub 50.

Swiss themed city hall in Midway, Utah

Upcoming Races

09/09: 2023 Cedar City Half Marathon - Cedar City, UT (Confirmed)
09/23: 2023 Witch Run 10K - West Jordan, UT (Confirmed)
10/07: 2023 Apple Harvest Run 10K - Santaquin, UT (Confirmed)
10/21: 2023 Haunted Half 5K - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed)
10/28: 2023 Haunted Half 5K - Provo, UT (Can't Make It)
11/18: Snow Canyon Half Marathon - St George, UT (Confirmed)
02/25: 2024 Las Vegas Half Marathon - Las Vegas, NV (Confirmed)
04/202024 Salt Lake City Half Marathon - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed)
07/242024 Deseret News Half Marathon - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed)
09/07: 2024 Cedar City Half Marathon - Cedar City, UT (Confirmed)

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