Aspen Valley Marathon 2012 – Race Report

Marathons: Paul #15, Leah #5 : Aspen Valley Marathon 2012
7th July 2012, Aspen, Colorado, USA
Finish Time (Leah) = 3:46:32
Finish Time (Paul) = 3:55:20

Leah: 3rd Place Age Group

2 months later we were back at it, signed up to run in Aspen. It was a downhill course so we had sub 4s in mind again. Unfortunately I had been fighting a bad cold for the week leading up to it so I wasn’t feeling in the best condition.

We drove to Aspen the night before and made our way to the start in the morning. This was also the highest marathon we’ve run, starting at 8,000 feet. It was absolutely stunning.

After running out of the town we were soon surrounded by flowing rivers, natural waterfalls around us and being at altitude there were times we were at cloud level with the mist of the clouds serving as a welcome relief from the hot sun. In one area we were running along the top of the valley and small planes would descend past us heading down to land at Aspen airport.

After speeding down a lot of the descents we were on track for a great time. However at 19 miles my cold and breathing was getting the better of me and I told Leah she should go on ahead and get the best time she can.

Before we broke off

Before we broke off

I struggled over the next 7 miles and also came across a woman who seemed to be in the same boat. I would run by her then a little later would be reduced to a walk, she would run by me and then start walking and the cycle would repeat itself. Misery loves company.

Eventually I made it to 26 and ran down the road and through the finish in 3:55. Still my second fastest time ever, I was pretty happy. Leah was already at the finish so all I wanted to know was how she got on. She was beaming, and not only had she obviously got her first sub 4 ever but in her 5th marathon had completely blown my record out of the water by finishing in 3:46:32 and winning 3rd in her age group! Also this time lasted as the record between us for 8 months after that and took me 7 more marathons before I eventually beat it. Not that we’re competitive with each other 🙂

She had never run a sub 4 hour marathon before, then ran this time, beating all of mine!

She had never run a sub 4 hour marathon before, then ran this time, beating all of my records!


Happy to get the sub 4 and amazed at Leah's time

Glad to get the sub 4 after a painful finish

At the finish, while recovering and stretching I bumped into the woman who was out there struggling with me in the last 7 miles. I said to her “Well done out there, it looked like you were struggling as much as I was!”. She replied “Oh, I only joined in to run the last 10 miles”. I felt a bit cheated, I had thought there was some solidarity in a common struggle under the same conditions and this assumption had now been proved wrong. I started to wonder if I hadn’t been with her, watching her run and walk, would I have allowed myself to do the same as much as I did? Did I slip into someone else’s routine? It was a good lesson though; focus on being strong and the best you can be, not on how others are doing and don’t use other people’s struggle for justification in your mind as to why it’s okay for you to give in to the pain.. the mind comes up with hundreds of different justifications when it gets tough!

For the scenery this is still one of my favourite marathons of all time, I would highly recommend it, even if they did give me a marathon medal mistakenly attached to a half-marathon ribbon. To this day I check my medals every time I cross the line now. Once bitten…


Elevation Graph from Running Watch

Don't be fooled by downhill marathons, they trash your legs!

Don’t be fooled by downhill marathons, they trash your legs!


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