12 August 2011

Madison Marathon - race report

Summertime means more running and traveling, and less blog up-keeping.

So here's a short race report from the breathtaking (literally...the average elevation was over 9,000 ft) Madison Marathon in the beautiful mountains of Montana.

This race is billed as "America's Highest Road Marathon." I thought this would be a good race to get some decent altitude training for the upcoming Pikes Peak Marathon.

The Madison course follows a well-maintained, hilly, dirt forest service road along the ridge of the Gravelly Range. Although there isn't a significant single climb that will knock your socks off by itself, by the end of the run the altitude (for those of us not use to 9,000+ ft) made the several 200 ft climbs feel like 2,000 ft. I did a lot of uphill walking the second half of the race.

Most of the course runs through open meadows with unblocked views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. It's a perfect run-with-your-camera course. Beautiful.

Not surprisingly, this was my slowest marathon to date (4:19:50)....but everyone's times were effected by the altitude and climbing, and I still managed to sneak in another top-10 finish (results). (I can't wait for my slowest marathon record to be smashed next weekend at Pikes Peak.)

Day before the race

Day before the race

Shuttle to the start

Stretching my cheek muscles in preparation
for all the smile-inducing vistas to come.

10,500 ft mountains look small when
you're standing at 9,500 ft.

I took a hundred shots similar this.

Typical section of the course.


Course stretches into the distance.

Taking photos is a good excuse to catch your breath.

A brutal little climb up through Devil's Lane

Nothing flat on this course.

I highly recommend this race if you're looking for a low-key, extra-scenic, challenging run where a PR is guaranteed not to happen. :)

Pikes Peak Marathon next weekend.  Keep running!



  1. My kind of marathon minus the altitude.

    Be sure to look for Matt Carpenter at Pikes Peak. He wins it most years, but he is getting older, and the young guys are coming after him. (we were at USM together - he was a senior when my husband and I were freshmen - they ran cross country and track together)

  2. Wow. Incredible views! And cheek muscles need workouts sometimes too:)

    Run Happy!

  3. Wow, you get all the best views! Gorgeous. Congrats on the top 10 finish too.

  4. you run in some beautimous places. I find, at times, a "personal worse" is just as important as a "personal best".

  5. I agree with Adrienne. Cheek muscles should be stretched often! :)

  6. Did you do Pikes Peak? Oh, I wish I would have known, I live closeby and I did the Ascent on Saturday. Would have been good to meet up!! Hope you had a great adventure up the Peak!!!

  7. beautiful...you're inspiration runner man!