Fall Classic Loveland Marathon 2015 – Race Report

Marathons: Paul #74, Leah #64 : Fall Classic Loveland Marathon 2015
13th September 2015, Loveland, Colorado, USA
Finish Time = 3:42:58

After arriving back from our vacation in Aruba late on the Saturday night, we got a solid 5 hours of sleep before getting up at 2am on Sunday morning for the Loveland marathon. It takes a special kind of crazy. The shuttle buses to the start line left early at 4am and we were an hour and a half drive from the shuttle bus pickup location. We ended up leaving later than planned and our predicted time to arrive at the shuttle bus pickup was a few minutes after the last one was scheduled to leave!

We ate our breakfast in the car on the way and luckily the roads were clear so we made it just in time to catch the last bus. The race director had put on some proper coaches rather than school buses, so that’s always nice. It took around 40 minutes to drive out to the start line in a canyon in Estes Park and as it was still dark I think rather than waking up, our bodies started falling asleep again on the journey.


There wasn’t much time to spare once the bus dropped us off and there were only a few toilets. It was also freezing cold. We’d looked at the forecast and seen hot temperatures, but hadn’t factored in the altitude we were starting at, 7,600ft. I had a vest on and Leah a small sports top, but there was no way we could take off the jackets we were wearing. We’d have to run in them for a while. We queued up at the toilets but by the time we got to the front of the queue the race had started. With the long queues behind us still, people were predicting they would delay the start. After making the toilet stop quick, we ran over to the start line but couldn’t see anywhere to leave our bag. We asked a volunteer and she didn’t know either, but offered to just take our bag. She told us the marathon had already started, we asked if the timing mats were still active and everyone looked at each other, not sure. So we just ran around to the start line and started the race, 6 minutes late and on our own. We were by no means at the back of the toilet queue either, so we knew other runners were going to have the same issue.

Head on out in the dark

It was still pitch black at this point so we weren’t even sure where to run… “Just head down there and follow the cones” we were told. So that’s what we did.. still half asleep and worried about whether our official time would now even count, we ran off into the darkness with no-one else around us. We figured as we started 6 minutes late we would need to run at least a time of 3:53, then even if there was an issue with our automatic chip timing being logged, the time on the finishing clock time itself couldn’t be disputed.

Thankfully it wasn’t long before we caught up with the back of the pack which was a big relief. Then after a while we heard someone shout out “There’s the Pipers!”, it was our friend Dave, running his 408th marathon.

It took a while for us to settle into any kind of rhythm. The late start had thrown us off a bit, we were concerned about our time not counting and also about handing our kit bag to a volunteer rather than putting it with the others in the official bag drop.

Still a bit cold, keeping our jackets on

Still a bit cold, keeping our jackets on

When the sun rose we were reminded of how beautiful Colorado is, especially Estes Park. The downside was that the whole course took place on roads and we had to run on the shoulder, with a few spaced out cones being the only things separating us from the oncoming traffic, as seen above. Definitely not as good as having a whole lane of the road closed. Some of the cones had already been knocked down by cars around some of the sharper corners which was a bit disconcerting. However, if you just looked off the side of the road instead you’d be treated to views of mountains, rushing rivers, small log cabins and the occasional camper’s tent.

Then hot once the sun came out

Hot once the sun came up

We got to halfway in good time, easily on course for the sub 4 we wanted for Colorado which was a relief, despite our indulgence on desserts and drinks while away on holiday the week before. Things heated up towards the end and there were definitely a few unexpected hills to watch out for.

Crossing the finish

Crossing the finish

We were glad to be finished and crossed the line to see our friends Gary, who had run his usual sub 2:45 time and had already gone back to the hotel, showered and returned, as well as Heather, who had finished just ahead of us.

With Heather at the finish line

With Heather at the finish line. Photo credit: Heather Zeigler

At the finish with Heather, Gary and ?

At the finish with Heather and Gary. Photo credit: Heather Zeigler

Where’s our stuff??

After chatting for a while the real fun started… we walked over to the area for bag collection and ours was no-where to be found. We spoke to various volunteers, recounting our story about starting late, but we weren’t even sure who it was that had taken the bag from us. We tracked down the race director who was very apologetic and tried to locate it.

Trying to sort things out with the Race Director

Trying to sort things out with the Race Director

Rather than going through every detail in length about what happened over the next 2.5 hours to locate the bag, here are some highlights:

  • It was suspected that it was in a truck they had rented, but when they went to check, the truck was completely missing and after a while was presumed to have been stolen!
  • Leah had a flight to catch for work that afternoon so we were getting very anxious as we had to leave to get home asap
  • Our bag had our rental car keys inside it
  • Most of the course was through a canyon or on remote roads where mobile phone signal was poor or non-existent, so calling other volunteers to try to find the truck or check for other locations the bag could be was proving difficult
  • One volunteer took her baby and drove down the course for us trying to locate it
  • Eventually it was found in another completely different truck which had been sat in the parking area from the very start
  • It turned out the missing truck was not stolen, but someone had moved it to a different parking area. A huge relief for the race director.
Gary pointing out that he has his keys

Gary pointing out that he has his keys. Photo credit: Heather Zeigler

Still none for us. Photo credit: Heather Zeigler

And none for us. Photo credit: Heather Zeigler

It definitely somewhat soured the finish for us, we couldn’t relax and have post race food as we were trying to figure out all sorts of plans ranging from getting the rental car company to bring us spare keys, to Leah re-booking a different flight for work, to how we were going to get back into our apartment, etc. I know some people are probably thinking that you shouldn’t leave your car keys in your race bag that you hand in, and I agree, if I can I’ll always carry it. The issue with some rental car keys is they stick both chunky key fobs plus the big plastic info fob onto a metal wire ring so that you cannot separate any key from the entire bunch. In those instances it’s very awkward to try carrying the whole bunch with you on the run.

Anyway, it all ended well. We got back home and Leah made her flight, although the rest of the afternoon was a rush and there was very little time to spare. We enjoyed the Loveland Marathon, for a Colorado marathon we probably wouldn’t do it again as the whole course was running on the shoulder of the road with oncoming traffic, but we’re glad to have done it once.

Elevation Graph from my running watch:



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