Friday, October 18, 2013

El Paso Transmountain Challenge 2013

I would love to be that skinny one day!
 I ran the 36th annual 2013 El Paso Transmountain Challenge half marathon on Sunday.  I liked it - just like last year- and when I finished, I had the same thoughts as the year before: I could be a whole lot better at this thing if I practiced!

Please note I only think that after the downhill portion, not on my way up-up-up the initial climb where I generally wonder if I can gracefully tumble down the side of the thorny mountain just to get out of the event.

No matter how often you drive this road, you will wonder, "how did this thing double in uphill grade overnight?"

The weather last year fought us runners- as if the terrain weren't challenging enough- with biting wind and an unseasonable chill in the air.  I was also glad that there was no baby stroller involved this year, but thinking of that, I missed my friends who have since moved to New York. 

Last Sunday at 7 am?  Warm, still air, only a breeze picking up as the path crested the mountains.  This time D was with me at the start and he too ran the race.  We don't run together at these race events.  That's a subject for another post though :)

Just like last year, the path is a one-way half-marathon, climbing 1300 feet in the first half of the race, only to descend, once midway, to the end.  It is a challenge indeed. 

The border patrol delegation ran in a nice tight formation again.  Lots of elite-looking runners, and lots of people who are new to fitness and have chosen a challenge up front.  That's what I like about this race, the terrain is intimidating yet so many people start and finish the course regardless.

I believe a 5K is also available, with a start and end point coinciding with the end of the halfsie. 

Aid stations were as great as ever, every 2 miles, with liquids and potties and medical staff.  Such enthusiastic volunteers- and I love forever the guy who coined the term that today was just another great "El Paso Sunday!" as we ran past his aid station, less thirsty and far more motivated than when we arrived.

I love that you can see the immense 50' x 100' flag at the Old Glory Memorial finish line from several miles out.  The silence as you run along, at a tenth of the speed you'd drive, allows the beauty of the Franklin Mountains and El Paso to impress and distract you from the uphill plod.  

After the descent, a sharp right turn along an almost flat frontage road leads you just over a mile to Diana Drive.  A sharp left- and ahead you see the cheering finish line corral and the taunting clock.  I crossed the line, with water and a medal and time to enjoy the Old Glory Memorial Plaza and all the post-race treats!  Such yummy burritos, from Crisostomo I believe? 

From the snack-filled finish, buses await to take you back over the mountain to the start, where we parked the car.  This is maybe the one day a year the entire Transmountain Road is closed- which we didn't know prior to the race- the only real hiccup of the day.  As compared to last year, though, the parking was much closer to the start. The bus situation is really no hassle at all.  It's nice to have a 15 minute ride to chat with the other racers and point out the spots along the course where we all felt miserable. 

The city of El Paso executes this race flawlessly and safely.  The road is closed, and there are no cars anywhere near the path, even along frontage roads toward the end. 

Anyone can do this race, and everyone should.  The prices, even at the last minute, are in the $40 range.  I am thankful again for the military discount this year.  The packet pickup is Friday and Saturday but not available on race morning.  It's fuss-free, and the shirt is pretty stylish for a race shirt, and a nice technical material in sizes from XS-XL.

I could've run faster, but I didn't.  I had a great race all the same.  I am back from San Antonio (6 weeks early, thanks to the shutdown) and waiting to see if I'll be called to return today.  

Always surprises!

And Turkey Trot season is nearly here!  I am ready!!!

Who else is excited for autumn racing?