This was the fifth year of the running of the Lost Dutchman Marathon and they saw record numbers of people signing up for their events. Runners World named this marathon one of the best small marathons in the country in 2005 and I wasn’t disappointed. There are a total of five events that take place, the 2K family fun run, the 8K trail run, the 10K the half-mary and the full marathon.
The marathon was a winding course that started out at the Peralta trail head in the Superstition Mountains. It was fantastic. The busses to the start headed out from the Apache Junction Rodeo grounds at about 5:20 am and dropped us off at the trail head by about 6:10. It was still dark out ant the temperature was a pleasant 45 degrees. The start area was the best I’ve experienced yet; there were maybe 100 fires lit with carpet squares laid out around them. In addition, there was a tent set up with hot coffee, cinnamon sticks, cookie pieces, cold water and hot water with tea and cocoa. The moon was about half full, bright and the sky was clear. It was a great experience sitting out around those fires with fellow runners drinking coffee, finding out where everyone came from for the race and laughing at other people’s weird training and racing stories.
Shortly after the sun rose the race kicked off with the first six miles taking place on a dirt road leading out of the Superstition Mountains. It was a great start to the race; the road was fairly smooth, winding and had some nice small rollers but was generally downhill. Runners were surrounded on both sides by southern Arizona’s signature saguaro cactus and all other manner of desert plants. It was easily the most scenic race I’ve been in and there were even a few folks running with cameras who were stopping intermittently to take pictures. The dirt road wound down to highway 60 where we turned west to run about two miles until heading back north into the Gold Canyon Estates. The run looped through the subdivision, which was filled with very nice homes and several locals who had come out to cheer us on. The course through here contained a lot of climbing but they tended to be long climbs at about 4% grades so it was not bad. The route continued on like this the majority of the race, in and out of residential areas, rolling hills and one little out and back where the marathon course began to overlap with the half-marathon course.
At about mile 20.5 I was, stupidly enough, struggling with dehydration and had been relegated to walking to the next aid station. I must have slammed down five half-cups of Gatorade at the mile 21 aid station, took a little stretch and within about a quarter mile felt much better and was back to running. Because of the layout of the course I was able to spy one of the one parts of the course was particularly interesting, the Dutchman’s Revenge. This was a strip of dirt road about 100 yards long that climbed at about a 14% grade. It takes place at mile 22 and there is a plywood façade of a brick wall for you to run through at the top of the hill so, if you are either tall enough or have enough energy, you can literally hit the wall. I’m happy to say that I hit the wall at mile 22. I pulled into the finish chute to end the race in 4:47:19; 12 minutes and 13 seconds shy of my goal but still a PR.
All in all it was a great day and a great race. I really think I’d like to run this one again.