Until a few weeks ago, I didn’t think I would be running the Mt. Sneffels Half Marathon. We didn’t travel to Ouray for the race, but the timing worked out so, we thought…why not? The start of the Mt. Sneffels Half Marathon starts at nearly 8000 feet of elevation. It runs from Ouray, Co to Ridgeway, Co. The Mt. Sneffels Marathon runs from Ridgway to Ouray, back to Ridgway. It was one of the most challenging and beautiful half marathons I’ve done. I’ve raced probably 500 times, and this is one of my favorites. The race is named after the beautiful Mt. Sneffels which is located in Ouray.
We stayed with family outside of Montrose and only 40 minutes from Ouray. We picked up our packets the night before, and it wasn’t until the night before I realized the race started at 7:30 am, not 6:30 (the Mt. Sneffels Marathon began at 6:30 am).
We arrived in Ouray around 6:30 and just relaxed. It was nice to take in the scenery. I knew the race would be tough, and my goal was to run smartly. I didn’t want to dry heave my way to the finish line and also didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize the Big Cottonwood Marathon coming up.
The race started promptly at 7:30. I ran the first mile with my husband. The first mile went through the town of Ouray, and I found myself out of breath by mile .5. Oh…this is going to be something I thought. I just relaxed and found myself finding a groove. I hit the first mile in 7:37.
During the next mile, we headed into a small park and then onto the gravel road. Most of the race was on a gravel road through the mountains. I was happy for the soft surface. I began to find my groove and hit the second mile in 7:16.
The next few miles, I ran alone. The mt. sneffels half marathon was a bigger race, but I found myself in a pocket of solitude, and I didn’t mind. I took in the gorgeous mountains around me and just focused on me. I ran a 7: 00-minute 3rd mile, followed by 6:54, and 7:04.
I was happy my miles seemed to have progressed. I wouldn’t have been mad if my overall pace was closer to my first mile, but I felt good I could settle into something faster.
The race course director had warned us that mile 5 would have some rougher terrain as they are fixing part of the road. It was hard to get a footing in the soft gravel mixed with rocks, but I didn’t think it was terrible.
By the time I knew it, it was mile 6. I saw the leaders for the Mt. Sneffels Marathon. It was awesome because the second place overall was female.
I passed a couple of people and kept running. I felt strong, but miles 6-9 can be challenging in any half marathon. You don’t want to get too cocky and surge, only to ride the pain train home. I ran a 6:58, 6:57, and 6:59. I was happy with it.
I crossed mile 10 in 1:11, which is a full minute faster than the Sea Legs Shuffle I ran last month. Completely different circumstances (it was sweltering there) but it was comical. Then at mile 10, I saw about .5 ahead, the most prominent hill I’ve seen in a road race. I thought, there is no way we would climb that…but I was wrong. I saw in the distance a few people climbing. So for about half a mile, I was starting at the hill. We started climbing, and my legs and breathing were on fire. I relaxed and focused. When we got to the top, the women asked Gatorade or water, and I was so out of breath I just pointed. I finished mile 10 in 7:21. I was happy with that effort.
It took me about 1.5 miles to feel comfortable with my breathing again. I ran a 7:18 12th mile. The final mile, I was focused on the end. I kept thinking if they are okay with throwing that mile 10, who knows if there are some crazy hills on mile 13. Luckily there wasn’t, and I just powered to the end.
I crossed the finish of the Mt. Sneffels Half Marathon in 1:33.58 and was second in my age group. It was a surprise because I was not expecting that.
In all, I’m happy with my efforts at the Mount Sneffels Half Marathon. It was a beautiful race, and I hope to do it again sometime.
Questions for you:
What is the highest elevation you’ve run at?
What is the most beautiful race you’ve run?