Blog

Oct. 7, 2021

A course strategy – and overall race strategy – is a must for optimal performance on race day. Whether this is your first REVEL race and your goal is simply to finish, or you are REVEL veteran aiming for a PR or BQ, you should have a well-planned strategy for how you intend to manage the Big Bear course!

The head coach of REVEL’s Online Coaching Program, who has run a Boston Qualifier in all the REVEL marathons he has run, has prepared a detailed description of the Big Bear Marathon and Half-Marathon courses.

Managing the Course Based on Segments

A critical component of your race strategy is the course profile itself. Where are the sharp descents? Where are the climbs? Where does the course “flatten” a bit?

You want to plan your race with course segments in mind, and with an overall strategy for varying paces throughout. Your varied paces will be dictated by the elevation losses and gains, and you want to know before the race where those variations will occur.

Generally, the Big Bear Marathon course can be divided into six sections:

Miles 1-2: The Warm Up

Miles 3-4: Slower But Steady, Get Up and Down

Miles 5-9: Rolling Downhill

Miles 10-13: Pick Up Speed

Miles 14-20: Accelerate

Miles 21-26.2: Fast Finish

Similarly, the Big Bear Half-Marathon course can be divided into three sections:

Miles 1-4: Very Fast Start

Miles 5-9: Settle In

Miles 10-13.1: Coasting In

You can study the courses yourself on the REVEL website. You can zoom in, use the interactive elevation chart, and get a feel for what lays ahead of you on race day.

If possible, you should drive the course before race day to get a feel for what the segments look and feel like. Knowing what to expect, and when, is helpful when preparing your course strategy.

The marathon and half-marathon courses are summarized below based on the segments described above.

The Marathon Course

Miles 1-2: The Warm Up

Starting at 6,630’ elevation, the first 2 miles of the course are almost straightaway, with very gradual turns and an elevation loss of 326’ total. Overall, this opening 2-mile segment is one of the more gradual downhill segments of the entire course. You want to approach this as a nice “warm up” to the miles ahead, and you should resist the urge to chase other runners if they pass you. You want to start the race by easing into your own pace, settling in for the long haul, and letting gravity pull you along at a comfortably fast pace. You should not feel as if you are running “too hard” or “too fast.” If you do, then you should ease back a bit and aim for a “comfortably hard” pace.

Miles 3-4: Slower But Steady, Get Up and Down

Miles 3 and 4 of the course are a series of up and down sections that, overall, result in -38’ of elevation for the 2-mile leg. After the opening “Warm Up” section that is mostly downhill, you almost certainly will be aware of your pace slowing and your level of effort increasing on the climbs here. This is where you will run slightly slower than your first two miles, but still can maintain a steady level of effort as you work your way uphill and downhill for two miles.

This is a segment where you really do not want to concern yourself with runners passing you on climbs. It is easy in a race to get caught up with the pace of other runners. You still have many miles to go, and you want to conserve your energy for the miles ahead. With that in mind, pay attention to your own level of effort: if you feel yourself working too hard on the climbs, then simply slow down.

Miles 5-9: Rolling Downhill

This is where you will begin to build speed. As you pass mile 4, you will begin a series of small rolling hills that, overall, lose 502’ of elevation. You will encounter small, short climbs here and there during this section, but they are minor in comparison to the overall elevation loss.

If you are keeping tabs on your splits every mile or every few miles at marked intervals, don’t be surprised to see that you are running slightly ahead of your goal pace on the downhills. This is where gravity is your friend, and the downhill profile of the marathon course will benefit you significantly.

At the same time, be wary of a sensation of “running too fast” downhill. If you feel out of control, or if you feel yourself working “too hard” while running downhill, then slow down. But be mindful that it is expected for you to be ahead of goal pace during these downhill segments of the race.

Likewise, don’t push yourself on the climbs. They are short, and you gain very little by increasing your level of effort to sustain a faster pace while climbing. Once you get past this section, the course starts to get much faster, and you want to conserve your energy for the speedy downhill sections ahead.

Miles 10-13: Pick Up Speed

This is where you will start to really gain speed running downhill.

If you have “held back” your downhill speed for the first 9 miles, while managing the minor climbs along the way, you should expect to be very close to your goal splits up to this part of the race, and probably slightly behind (slower than) your target splits. Your legs should feel strong, warmed-up, and ready for the supremely fast latter half of the race.

Just past mile 9, the course begins steadily dropping mile after mile. For the first time since mile 1, you will start to see elevation losses well more than 200’ per mile. Start turning on the speed here, but don’t get too enthusiastic just yet. As you approach the second half of the course, think of these “last 4 of the first half” as an appetizer for main menu ahead.

Miles 14-20: Accelerate

The REVEL Big Bear Marathon course will give you an opportunity to start “turning on the speed” at the halfway mark. The elevation at mile 13 is 4,770’. By mile 20, where the elevation is 2,658’, you will have lost over 2,100’ in a 7-mile stretch. That is an average of more than 300’ per mile. More importantly, there are no noticeable climbs anywhere in this stretch. It is one long, sustained, fast downhill section.

This 7-mile section is where your race is made. Instead of the usual “struggle” to maintain pace in the third quarter of a marathon, miles 14-20 of Big Bear are where you will find yourself running faster than expected. Keep churning out the miles with a sense of free-flowing, efficient, downhill speed. By the time you get to mile 20, you can expect to be right on your target split, if not well ahead of it.

Miles 21-26.2: Fast Finish

The last 10K of the marathon course is a continuation of the long, sustained downhill section that began way back at mile 13. Even better, the downhill in the closing 6.2 miles is less severe than the earlier segments, which is easier on tired legs. The final 6.2 miles of the course lose 1,100’, or an average of roughly 180’ per mile. This is a comfortable downhill section, and you should be able to sustain your goal pace throughout the final 10K.

Summary of the Marathon Course

The Big Bear Marathon course loses almost a mile of elevation from start to finish. Over the 26.2-mile course, you likely will surprise yourself with your speed on the downhill segments. Although it is generally true that you never want to run “too fast" at any point in a marathon, remember that gravity is your friend, and you want to take advantage of the benefits of downhill running. Still, hold back until mile 9, manage the short climbs up to that point, and then start accelerating into the second half of the course. Keep in mind that even splits (or negative splits) are highly likely on a course like Big Bear. In other words, expect your second half to be faster than your first half! The key to success will be your ability to keep accelerate from miles 13 to 20, and then holding on at goal pace (if not faster) for the final 10K.

The Half-Marathon Course

Miles 1-4: Very Fast Start

Starting at just over 4700’ elevation, the half-marathon course drops 1,288’ total from the start to mile 4. That is an average of 322' per mile, which is a significant drop.

You will need to resist the urge to chase people if they pass you. Although you want to take advantage of gravity throughout this course by running “comfortably fast” on the downhills, you need to manage the early downhill drops by easing into your pace, settling in for the long haul, and letting gravity pull you along. You should not feel as if you are running “too hard” or “too fast.” If you do, then you should ease back a bit and aim for a “comfortably hard” pace.

Miles 5-9: Settle In

Overall, you will drop nearly 1,250' in miles 5-9. That is an average of 250’ per mile, which is remarkable. Compared to the noticeably fast – and steep – downhill miles from the start to mile 4, this section is a much more “comfortable” downhill.

This is the section where you can really settle into your race pace. The downhills are less sharp than the opening segment, and all of them lose between 216’ and 272’ per mile. At the same time, be wary of a sensation of “running too fast.” If you feel out of control, or if you feel yourself working “too hard” while running downhill, then slow down. If you are keeping tabs on your splits every mile or every few miles at marked intervals, don’t be surprised to see that you are running well ahead of your goal pace.

Miles 10-13.1: Coasting In

Remember that the opening 4-mile segment loses more than 300’ per mile, and the second 5-mile segment loses 250’ per mile. This final segment loses an average of about 159’ per mile. This is still a significant drop per mile, but it is much more gradual than the earlier miles.

As the course begins to descend more gradually, you might notice that your pace is beginning to slow. Pay close attention to your own level of effort. Whatever level of effort you feel on the opening downhill segments is your benchmark; duplicate that level of effort on the less downhill miles, but do not go harder. Pay attention to your breathing and heart rate. If you feel yourself working too hard, then simply slow down. You should be coasting in for the final miles.

Summary of the Half-Marathon Course

The Big Bear Half-Marathon course loses more than 3,100' of elevation from start to finish. That's an average of more than 240' per mile, making this one of the fastest half-marathon courses you will ever run. Over the 13.1-mile course, you likely will surprise yourself with your speed on the downhill segments.

Paul Carmona is the Online REVEL Coach who has designed training plans specifically for REVEL downhill courses. He is a 26-time REVEL Marathon Finisher and has run multiple Boston Qualifiers on every REVEL course that he has run, with his current streak at 23 BQs in a row at REVEL marathons!

Oct. 5, 2021

Some runners use the phrase “banking time” to allow for the typical slowdown that occurs in latter miles of a race due to fatigue. The idea is that if you run faster than your overall goal pace for early miles, you will have “banked time” by putting yourself “ahead of schedule” by a certain point of the race. Later, as you slow down, you will be “making withdrawals” against that “banked time” to stay on schedule overall.

For several reasons, the “banked time” concept is not a good idea. Instead, think of building a “cushion” of time that you expect to use in your favor on the slower parts of the course. The cushion is built by taking advantage of gravity in the segments where the downhill profile favors faster running. As opposed to the “banked time” concept of running very fast (or too fast, as some critics say) early in the race, with the expectation of slowing down later in the race, the “cushion” idea is that you are doing nothing more than taking advantage of gravity, while using good course management to gauge where you are overall vis-à-vis your goal pace.

This “cushion” idea is the concept that you should embrace for a downhill race. Instead of “banking time” on the downhills, you are merely running faster than goal pace, or as fast as you can comfortably run downhill, to account for the favorable downhill profile. Likewise, slowing down on the climbs is expected. Don’t think of it as “making withdrawals from banked time.” Instead, think of it as sound, smart course management. You know that you will run fast downhill, and you know that you will slow down uphill.

The key to making this concept work for you on race day is to practice “running faster than you normally run.” With proper speed work, downhill intensity work, and pace work, your training program should have you well-prepared for the extensive downhills at a REVEL event. If you are new to downhill racing, the REVEL Online Coaching Program will provide all of the workouts you need to prepare for that PR or BQ you’ve been chasing!

 

Aug. 4, 2021

A course strategy – and overall race strategy – is a must for optimal performance on race day. Whether this is your first REVEL Big Cottonwood race and your goal is simply to finish, or you are Big Cottonwood veteran aiming for a PR or BQ, you should have a well-planned strategy for how you intend to manage the course!

The head coach of REVEL’s Online Coaching Program, who has run a Boston Qualifier in all of the REVEL marathons, has prepared this detailed description of the Big Cottonwood Marathon and Half-Marathon courses.

Managing the Course Based On Segments
A critical component of your strategy is the course profile itself. Where are the sharp descents? Where are the climbs? Where does the course “flatten” a bit?

You want to plan your race with course segments in mind, and with an overall strategy for varying paces throughout. Your varied paces will be dictated by the elevation losses and gains, and you want to know before the race where those variations will occur.

Generally, the Big Cottonwood Marathon course can be divided into five sections:

Miles 1-3: The Fast Start
Mile 4: The Loop
Miles 5-18: The Canyon Drop
Miles 19-23: The Out and Back
Miles 24-26.2: The Straightaway Finish

Similarly, the Big Cottonwood Half-Marathon course can be divided into four sections:

Miles 1-3: Gently Fast Start
Miles 4-9: PR Territory
Miles 10-11: The Canyon Exit
Miles 12-13.1: The Gradual Downhill, Straightaway Finish

You can study the courses yourself on the REVEL website. You can zoom in, use the interactive elevation chart, and get a feel for what lays ahead of you on race day.

If possible, you should drive the course before race day to get a feel for what the segments look and feel like. Knowing what to expect, and when, is helpful when preparing your course strategy.

The marathon and half-marathon courses are summarized below based on the segments described above.


The Marathon Course

Miles 1-3: The Fast Start

Starting at over 9,600’ elevation, the first 3 miles of the course are on Guardsman Pass Road and include several turns and switchbacks. Overall, this first 3-mile segment loses more than 900’ of elevation. That is a significant elevation loss, and you will want to manage the drops by easing into your pace, settling in for the long haul, and letting gravity pull you along at a comfortably fast pace.

Resist the urge to chase people as they pass you. While you want to take advantage of gravity, you should not feel as if you are running “too hard” or “too fast.” If you do, then you should ease back a bit and aim for a “comfortably hard” pace.

Mile 4: The Loop

You will leave Guardsman Pass Road where it intersects with Big Cottonwood Canyon Road, turn left, and start climbing towards the Brighton Resort where you will loop around the resort area, and then head back towards the point where you began the loop.

Over the course of The Loop, you will climb slightly more 116’ to the highest point of the loop. This is a segment where you do not want to get caught up with the pace of other runners if they are passing you. You still have many, many miles to go, and you want to conserve your energy for the miles ahead. If you feel yourself working too hard, then simply slow down.

Miles 5-18: The Canyon Drop

From mile 4 to mile 18, just before you exit Big Cottonwood Canyon, you will experience the fastest part of the marathon course, with an elevation loss of more than 3,700’. There are a few small, short climbs here and there in this segment, but they are minor in comparison to the overall elevation loss.

Don’t be surprised if you find yourself running well ahead of your goal pace. This segment is where the downhill profile of the marathon course will benefit you significantly. At the same time, be wary of a sensation of “running too fast.” If you feel out of control, or if you feel yourself working “too hard” while running downhill, then slow down.

Miles 19-23: The Out and Back

Just past mile 18, you will leave Big Cottonwood Canyon Road and turn onto S. Wasatch Boulevard for an out-and-back segment. For the next 2.26 miles, the course flattens out a bit and loses less elevation that the previous miles coming down the canyon. All totaled, you will lose 100’ of elevation on the “out” portion of the out-and-back, with some climbs along the way.

After the turnaround, you will run back to the entrance of Big Cottonwood Canyon and head towards Fort Union Boulevard. Over this 2.28-mile stretch, you will be climbing back to where you started the out-and-back.

During this segment, don’t panic or become discouraged if you find yourself slowing down, or if it suddenly feels harder to maintain your pace. After the significant drop of the early miles, along with the typical late-stage fatigue that is common in marathons, your legs might feel heavy and you might feel as if you are working very hard to keep going. But the key will be to keep going. Once you get past this segment, the closing miles will be downhill again.

Miles 24-26.2: The Straightaway Finish

The finish line is on Fort Union Boulevard. After the right-hand turn from the out-and-back onto Fort Union, the closing 3.2-mile segment drops approximately 430’ total, making it a gradual, straightaway downhill finish. You will encounter terrific crowds who will cheer you towards the finish line of the fast and beautiful Big Cottonwood Marathon!

Summary of the Marathon Course

The Big Cottonwood Marathon course loses almost a mile of elevation from start to finish. Over the 26.2-mile course, you likely will surprise yourself with your speed on the downhill segments. Although it is generally true that you never want to "go out too fast" in the opening miles of a marathon, remember that gravity is your friend, and you want to take advantage of the benefits of downhill running.

The Half-Marathon Course

Miles 1-3: Gently Fast Start

Starting at almost 7,300’ elevation, the half-marathon course drops more than 400’ total from the start to mile 3. That is an average of about 135' per mile, which is a significant but manageable descent each mile. You will want to manage the early downhill drops by easing into your pace, settling in for the long haul, and letting gravity pull you along at a comfortably fast pace. You should not feel as if you are running “too hard” or “too fast.” If you do, then you should ease back a bit and aim for a “comfortably hard” pace.

Miles 4-9: PR Territory

This is where your half-marathon personal record (PR) will be made. Miles 4-9 all totaled lose 1,863’ of elevation, which is an average of 311’ per mile. If you are keeping tabs on your pace, don’t be surprised to see that you have picked up significant speed and are running well ahead of your goal pace. At the same time, be wary of a sensation of “running too fast.” If you feel out of control, or if you feel yourself working “too hard” while running downhill, then slow down. But be mindful that it is expected for you to be well ahead of goal pace during this long, downhill segment of the race.

Miles 10-11: The Canyon Exit

At mile 9, just before you exit Big Cottonwood Canyon, you will notice that the course starts to flatten a bit. After losing an average of more than 300’ per mile in the previous “PR Territory” section, this 2-mile stretch loses an average of half that per mile: 313’ total, or just over 150’ per mile.

You can expect a short slowdown here due to the lesser elevation loss. You will need to “switch gears” to a slower pace based on even effort and should be prepared to run much slower than the first 9 miles of the race. Likewise, you really do not want to concern yourself with runners passing you, if that happens. It is easy in a race to get caught up with the pace of other runners. You still have a few miles to go, and you want to conserve your energy for the closing downhill miles ahead. Pay attention to your breathing and heart rate. If you feel yourself working too hard here, then simply slow down.

Miles 12-13.1: The Gradual Downhill, Straightaway Finish

Just past mile 11, you can say to yourself "now downhill to the finish!" Mile 12 loses 196’ of elevation, making it a speedy pick-up where, if you are feeling good and aiming for a PR, you can turn on the speed again and feel yourself flying toward the finish. Finally, the last 1.1 miles have a gradual loss of just over 80'. You should feel comfortable locking in right at goal pace, if not slightly faster, for the finish.

In this final stretch, the crowds of spectators will grow larger as you make your way towards the finish line of the fast and beautiful Big Cottonwood Half-Marathon!

Summary of the Half-Marathon Course

The Big Cottonwood Half-Marathon course loses 2,857' of elevation from start to finish. That's an average of more than 220' per mile, making this one of the fastest half-marathon courses you will ever run. Over the 13.1-mile course, you likely will surprise yourself with your speed on the downhill segments.

Paul Carmona is the Online REVEL Coach who has designed training plans specifically for REVEL downhill courses, and who has run the Big Cottonwood Marathon five times. He is a 22-time REVEL Marathon Finisher and has run multiple Boston Qualifiers on every REVEL course that he has run, with his current streak at 20 BQs in a row at REVEL marathons!

June 13, 2021

A course strategy – and overall race strategy – is a must for optimal performance on race day. Whether this is your first REVEL race, and your goal is simply to finish, or you are REVEL veteran aiming for a PR or BQ, you should have a well-planned strategy for how you intend to manage the REVEL Sun Valley course!

The head coach of REVEL’s Online Coaching Program, who has run a Boston Qualifier on all the REVEL marathon courses he has run (25 total REVEL marathons), has prepared a detailed description of the Sun Valley Marathon and Half-Marathon courses.

Managing the Course Based On Segments

A critical component of your race strategy is the course profile itself. Where are the sharp descents? Where are the climbs? Where does the course “flatten” a bit?

You want to plan your race with course segments in mind, and with an overall strategy for varying paces throughout. Your varied paces will be dictated by the elevation losses and gains, and you want to know before the race where those variations will occur.

Generally, the REVEL Sun Valley Marathon course can be divided into four sections:

Miles 1-3: Fast Start

Miles 4-15: Building 12

Miles 16-24: Steady 9

Miles 25-F: The Final 100’ of Downhill

Similarly, REVEL Sun Valley Half-Marathon course can be divided into three sections:

Miles 1-2: Fast Start

Miles 3-11: Steady Middle

Miles 12-F: The Final 100’ of Downhill

You can study the courses yourself on the REVEL website. You can zoom in, use the interactive elevation chart, and get a feel for what lays ahead of you on race day. If possible, you should drive the course before race day to get a feel for what the segments look and feel like. Knowing what to expect, and when, is helpful when preparing your course strategy.

The marathon and half-marathon courses are summarized below based on the segments described above.

The Marathon Course

Miles 1-3: Fast Start

Starting at more than 7,800’ elevation, the first 3 miles of the course are the fastest of the day. The course loses 562’ up to mile 3, with an average loss of more than 187’ per mile. The downhill grade, which is -3.5% overall, is an excellent boost to start your race.

While you want to take advantage of gravity throughout this section of the course by running “faster than normal” on the downhills, you need to manage the sharp drops in the opening miles by easing into your pace, settling in for the long haul, and letting gravity pull you along at a comfortably fast pace. Early in this section you might feel a bit winded from the elevation (altitude), but you should not feel as if you are running “too hard” or “too fast.” If you do, then you should ease back a bit and aim for a “comfortably hard” pace.

Likewise, you do not want to concern yourself about runners passing you along the way. It is easy in a race to get caught up with the pace of other runners. You still have many miles to go, and you want to conserve your energy for the miles ahead.

Miles 4-15: Building 12

The elevation at mile 3 is 7,272’. Over the distance of the next 12 miles, you will lose 852 feet. That is an average of 71’ per mile, with a downhill grade of -1.3% overall.

This 12-mile segment is not as sharp as the opening 3-mile segment, but still runs noticeably downhill. Except for mile 14, they all lose 50’ or more. Miles 10 and 15 are the fastest in this section, with losses of 110’ and 108’, respectively.

You will want to continue taking advantage of gravity and let your pace hold at the "comfortably fast" edge of your ability. Generally, this section of the course is where you want to “settle in” at your goal pace, or slightly ahead of it. Keep in mind that there are some short climbs in this section, especially the very noticeable 45-foot climb near the halfway point. You will see this climb if you drive the course before the race, and you certainly will feel it when you run the course. The climbing will slow you down a bit, but your overall pace in this section will still be right on – if not slightly faster than – your goal pace. Still, be prepared for the climbing so that you are not surprised or discouraged when you encounter it.

Miles 16-24: Steady 9

This 9-mile section is where you might find it hard to run faster than goal pace but should be able to hold a steady speed that is right around your overall goal pace. The total drop over these 9 miles is 511’ (average of -1.1% grade), which will feel noticeably less than any segments up to this point.

The key to this section is to maintain a steady pace that mimics the steady drop in elevation. There are no steep or fast drops, but also no hard climbs. As the course gradually drops, you want to maintain a steady level of effort to hold your pace. However, it is likely that you will notice a slowing of your pace, and that you cannot increase your pace without an increase in effort. This is due not only to the normal and expected fatigue at this point in a race, but also due to the lower amount of elevation loss per mile.

Miles 25-F: The Final 100’ of Downhill

After mile 24, the course flattens out noticeably, with the total elevation loss of only 17’ for mile 25. The good news is that mile 26 loses 75’ overall, a comfortably downhill grade of -1.4%.

Coupled with the late-race fatigue that typically sets in at this point of a marathon, the flatter terrain will make it feel like climbing even when you are running slightly downhill. But don’t panic if you find your pace slowing in this segment. You don’t want to “push” yourself to try matching the fast pace that you held in the preceding more downhill miles. Late-stage cramps can be common when runners push harder than their muscles are able to work!

Summary of the Marathon Course

The REVEL Sun Valley Marathon course loses 2,034’ of elevation from start to finish, which is a comfortable overall grade of -1.5%. Over the 26.2-mile course, you likely will surprise yourself with your "faster than normal" pace on the downhill segments.

The Half-Marathon Course

Miles 1-2: Fast Start

Starting at 6,584’ of elevation, the course drops 166’ from the start to mile 2. That is a comfortable and manageable descent as you warm up with a gentle downhill grade of -1.6%. You will need to resist the urge to chase people as they pass you. While you want to take advantage of gravity throughout this course by running “faster than normal” on the downhills, you need to manage the downhill drops – especially the second mile - by easing into your pace, settling in for the long haul, and letting gravity pull you along at a comfortably fast pace. You should not feel as if you are running “too hard” or “too fast.” If you do, then you should ease back a bit and aim for a “comfortably hard” pace.

Miles 3-11: Steady Middle

Miles 3-11 all lose between 44’ and 70’ throughout this middle section of the course. The total drop over these 9 miles is 508’, which is an average of 56’ per mile (an average grade of -1.1%).

You can expect a gradual slowdown over this section, where the overall grade switches from -1.6% in the first two miles to -1.1% for this longer middle section. That is not a significant difference, but this section is where you might find it hard to run faster than goal pace. Still, you should be able to hold a steady speed that is right around your overall goal pace.

The key to this section is to maintain a steady pace that mimics the steady drop in elevation. There are no steep or fast drops, but also no hard climbs. As the course gradually drops, you want to maintain a steady level of effort to hold your pace. However, it is likely that you will notice a slight slowing of your pace, and that you cannot increase your pace without an increase in effort. This is due not only to the normal and expected accumulating fatigue at this point in a race, but also due to the lower amount of elevation loss per mile.

Miles 12-F: The Final 100’ of Downhill

After mile 11, the course flattens out noticeably, with the total elevation loss of 28’ for mile 12. The good news is that mile 13 loses 66’ overall, a comfortable downhill grade of -1.3%.

Coupled with the late-race fatigue that typically sets in at this point of a half-marathon, the flatter terrain will make it feel like climbing even when you are running slightly downhill. But don’t panic if you find your pace slowing in this segment. You don’t want to “push” yourself to try matching the fast pace that you held in the preceding more downhill miles.

Summary of the Half-Marathon Course

The REVEL Sun Valley Half-Marathon course loses 784’ of elevation from start to finish. With an average loss of around 60' per mile (a grade of -1.1%), you likely will surprise yourself with your "faster than normal" pace on the downhill segments.

Paul Carmona is the Online REVEL Coach who has designed training plans specifically for REVEL downhill courses. He is a 25-time REVEL Marathon Finisher and has run multiple Boston Qualifiers on every REVEL course that he has run, with his current streak at 23 BQs in a row at REVEL marathons!

April 26, 2021

A course strategy – and overall race strategy – is a must for optimal performance on race day. Whether this is your first REVEL race, and your goal is simply to finish, or you are a REVEL veteran aiming for a PR or BQ, you should have a well-planned strategy for how you intend to manage the REVEL Wasatch course!

The head coach of REVEL’s Online Coaching Program, who has run a Boston Qualifier in all the REVEL marathons he has run (25 of them), has prepared a detailed description of the Wasatch Marathon and Half-Marathon courses.

Managing the Course Based On Segments

A critical component of your race strategy is the course profile itself. Where are the sharp descents? Where are the climbs? Where does the course “flatten” a bit?

You want to plan your race with course segments in mind, and with an overall strategy for varying paces throughout. Your varied paces will be dictated by the elevation losses and gains, and you want to know before the race where those variations will occur.

Generally, the REVEL Wasatch Marathon course can be divided into five sections:

Miles 1-3: Slow 3

Miles 4-8: Fast 5

Miles 9-17: Settle in for 9

Miles 18-23: Steady 6

Miles 24-F: Flat 5K Finish

Similarly, REVEL Wasatch Half-Marathon course can be divided into three sections:

Miles 1-4: Fast 4

Miles 5-10: Steady 6

Miles 11-F: Flat 5K Finish

You can study the courses yourself on the REVEL website. You can zoom in, use the interactive elevation chart, and get a feel for what lays ahead of you on race day. If possible, you should drive the course before race day to get a feel for what the segments look and feel like. Knowing what to expect, and when, is helpful when preparing your course strategy.

The marathon and half-marathon courses are summarized below based on the segments described above.

The Marathon Course

Miles 1-3: Slow 3

Starting at more than 7,700’ elevation, the first 3 miles of the course are challenging, but with proper planning and strategy you can manage the slowdown that you almost certainly will experience here.

The first mile of the race gains 37’ of elevation, which is not significant but is enough to slow you down at the high altitude. The course continues to climb another 172’ almost to mile 3 (the climbing ends around mile 2.8 as the course starts to descend before the mile 3 marker).

Allow yourself to slow down in these climbing miles, especially at the high altitude. You still have many miles to go, and you want to conserve your energy for the miles ahead, which include some remarkably fast and markedly downhill sections.

Miles 4-8: Fast 5

Over the distance of the next 5 miles, you will lose 1,114 feet. That is an average of 223’ per mile, with a downhill grade of -4.2% overall.

Resist the urge to chase people if they pass you. Let gravity pull you along at a comfortably fast pace. Early in this section you might feel a bit winded from the elevation (altitude), but you should not feel as if you are running “too hard” or “too fast.” If you do, then you should ease back a bit and aim for a “comfortably hard” pace.

Keep in mind that there are some short climbs in this section. You will see them if you drive the course before the race, and you will feel them when you run the course. These climbs will slow you down a bit, but your overall pace in those sections will still be faster than what you encountered in the climbs inside the first 3 miles. However, be prepared so that you are not surprised or discouraged when you encounter them.

Miles 9-17: Settle in for 9

Over the next 9 miles, up to mile 17, the course loses almost 990’. This 9-mile segment is not as sharp as the previous 5-mile segment, but still runs noticeably downhill. Except for mile 15, they all lose about 100’ or more. You will want to continue taking advantage of gravity and let your pace hold at the "comfortably fast" edge of your ability. Generally, this section of the course is where you want to “settle in” at your goal pace, or slightly ahead of it.

Miles 18-23: Steady 6

This 6-mile section is where you might find it hard to a bit harder to hold a steady speed that is right around your overall goal pace. The total drop over these 6 miles is 360’ (average of -1.1% grade), which will feel noticeably less than any miles past the opening 3.

The key to this section is to maintain a steady pace that mimics the steady drop in elevation. There are no steep or fast drops, but also no hard climbs. As the course gradually drops, you want to maintain a steady level of effort to hold your pace. However, it is likely that you will notice a slowing of your pace, and that you cannot increase your pace without an increase in effort. This is due not only to the normal and expected fatigue at this point in a race, but also due to the lower amount of elevation loss per mile.

Miles 24-F: Flat 5K Finish

Technically, this section is .1 more than a 5K. But think of it as “only 5K to go” when you pass the mile 23 marker.

After mile 23, the course flattens out noticeably, with the total elevation loss at 63’ for the final 3.2 miles – an average of about 20’ per mile. Although it is not really “flat,” it will feel flat. Also, mile 26 has an overall gain of 18’ which is not much but will seem to be more. Don’t panic if you find your pace slowing in this segment. You don’t want to “push” yourself to try matching the fast pace that you held in the preceding more downhill miles. Late-stage cramps can be common when runners push harder than their muscles are able to work!

Summary of the Marathon Course

The REVEL Wasatch Marathon course loses 2,314’ of elevation from start to finish, which is a comfortable overall grade of -1.7%. Over the 26.2-mile course, you likely will surprise yourself with your "faster than normal" pace on the downhill segments, but you will need to show patience and persistence is managing the climbs at miles 1-3. The long, steady, gradual downhill sections up to mile 17 will afford an opportunity to “make up” for the “lost time” in the first 3 miles. After that, maintain a steady pace but be prepared for the flat “feel” in the final 3.2 miles.

The Half-Marathon Course

Miles 1-4: Fast 4

Starting at 6,220’ of elevation, the course drops 372’ from the start to mile 4, which is a grade of -1.8%. You will need to resist the urge to chase people as they pass you. While you want to take advantage of gravity throughout this course by running “faster than normal” on the downhills, you need to manage the downhills by easing into your pace, settling in for the long haul, and letting gravity pull you along at a comfortably fast pace. You should not feel as if you are running “too hard” or “too fast.” If you do, then you should ease back a bit and aim for a “comfortably hard” pace.

Miles 5-10: Steady 6

Miles 5-10 together lose 358’. You can expect a gradual slowdown over this section, where the overall grade switches to -1.1%. That is not a significant difference from the first 4-mile grade of -1.8%, but this section is where you might find it hard to run faster than goal pace. However, you should be able to hold a steady speed that is right around your overall goal pace.

The key to this section is to maintain a steady pace that mimics the steady drop in elevation. There are no steep or fast drops, but also no hard climbs. As the course gradually drops, you want to maintain a steady level of effort to hold your pace.

Miles 11-F: Flat 5K Finish

After mile 10, the course flattens out noticeably, with the total elevation loss at 56’ for the final 3.1 miles – an average of about 18’ per mile. Although it is not really “flat,” it will feel flat. Also, mile 13 has an overall gain of 13’ which is not much but will seem to be more. The flatter terrain will make it feel like climbing even when you are running slightly downhill, and the short climbs that do appear will slow your pace. But don’t “push” yourself to try matching the fast pace that you held in the preceding more downhill miles. Hang on and keep working hard for that finish line!

Summary of the Half-Marathon Course

The REVEL Wasatch Half-Marathon course loses 786’ of elevation from start to finish. With an average loss of around 60' per mile (a grade of -1.1%), you likely will surprise yourself with your "faster than normal" pace on the downhill segments.

Paul Carmona is the Online REVEL Coach who has designed training plans specifically for REVEL downhill courses. He is a 25-time REVEL Marathon Finisher and has run multiple Boston Qualifiers on every REVEL course that he has run, with his current streak at 23 BQs in a row at REVEL marathons!



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