2021 REVEL Wasatch (Limited Edition) Course Previews
REVEL Wasatch Limited Edition
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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