The Pecos River Challenge in Carlsbad, NM was the second marathon put on by Bob Kennedy that I participated in this year. As with the Sundance to Spearfish marathon, this race was developed to help Bob and fellow 50sub4 Club members run a fast race in a difficult state.
I flew into Odessa, Texas, and drove 2 1/2 hours west through the most desolate landscape I’ve seen thus far in the United States. There were plenty of oil rigs, but no towns—or even gas stations for that matter. I stayed in downtown Carlsbad, which is a lovely little city. My hotel, The Trinity, was right in the town center and was absolutely beautiful. It was built in 1892 as a bank, and the rooms reflect this stately elegance. The hotel also contains a very nice restaurant and a wine bar, so I had a delicious pre- race meal before walking upstairs and turning in for bed.
The race itself was super- small. There were roughly 30 marathoners and about twice as many runners doing the half. Bob had partnered with the local cross country program, so there were a number of students running the half and lots of runners and their parents working the aid stations. The course consisted of two identical loops around the Pecos River and the city of Carlsbad. We were at elevation—roughly 2,000 feet above sea level—but the town is fairly flat, so my running didn’t feel terribly strained.
The run along the river was pretty, but the rest of the course wasn’t terribly exceptional. Lots of running through suburbs and country roads; This wasn’t bad, there just wasn’t much that stood out scenery- wise. There were half marathoners near me on the first loop, but I ran the second almost entirely alone. I was grateful for all of Bob’s chalk arrows, the knowledge that I’d run the course once before, and the enthusiastic aid station workers who really went out of their way to cheer us all on. (You could tell that most were runners’ parents!) The race truly felt like a supported long run, which didn’t bother me in the least. Water and Gatorade was available every three miles, and there was a police presence at the three road crossings that we encountered. I didn’t run a particularly fast time, but I was the first girl in, so I can now say that I have won two marathons 😉
There was a nice lunch, soda, and beer at the end of the race, and I had the opportunity to meet some other members of the 50sub4 Club. I met up with Bob and Tom Craven—another member of the club—for a post- race wine tasting at my hotel and then for dinner later in the evening. The next morning, I ran into Tom again at the entrance to Carlsbad Caverns, so we took a little hike around the Big Room before his morning tour. The caverns were beautiful, and I am so glad that I had the opportunity to explore them a but before my flight home. I have also decided that I want to be in as good of shape as Tom is when I am 75: The man ran a marathon on a Saturday and then spent the day hiking on Sunday. This is further proof that no matter how fast I get or how many marathons I run, there are always people out there who are more ambitious than I am!
** Race Highlights: I think little races are a lot of fun! It was really cool to see the community support for this one. I also liked seeing so many 50sub4 folks out.
** The Downside: Because the race was so small, there were times when it did get a bit lonely on the course.
Sub 4:00 State #23, BQ State #21
Finish Time: 3:33:19
Overall Place Within My Gender: 1/13
Total Training Miles: 4814
Shoe Total: 15