Tuesday, October 2, 2012

What to Prepare for on Race Day

For the first time runner, and for those that haven't been up on Aspen Vista for a while (like 364 days) we've put together a brief primer of what to expect this Saturday and how to prepare for it.

It's going to be chilly up there (in the 30's), particularly before the sun crests the ridge and the climbing begins up the trail. Bring a light hat and gloves. A bulky ski hat is going to be a bit warm after the first 10 min. of climbing and will be tougher to stuff in a pocket as the day heats up. Gloves can serve a second function and help as protection during the descent (Caution: try not to fall). Some folks however will just tuck them in their waistband when it gets too warm.

Some runners find that the cold temps can really stiffen the legs which is an unwanted handicap when you're trying to crank along up a steep mountain. Base layer shorts are a good option here. Running tights aren't generally common but can be very helpful. Sweats and skipants are helpful options pre-race but not great during the race itself.

It can snow up there although none is in this week's forecast. Last year's first snow arrived the day after Big T. We ran through fog and mist in 2006 (it was awesome).

Aid Stations
There are two stations on the course. One at the large elbow bend at about 2.5mi, and the other at the summit. Both will have water and gatorade. Some runners will carry small water bottles with their own solution. It's advisable to all runners to pin an energy bar or gel (or candy or half a pb&j sandwich) to your waistband to consume sometime during the race. This is particularly so for runners that don't regularly run for 2hrs + or aren't especially acclimatized. The calories will help stave off bonking, which can get dangerous in the last couple miles of the descent. If you need help with this, make a trip to The Running Hub and they'll help you out.

There will of course be coffee and tea available pre-race to warmup (maybe hot chocolate?), as well as burritos and maybe some bagels to munch on when you've made it down. 

There are two Santa Fe National Forest stalls at the Aspen Vista trailhead. There is often a sizable wait as race time approaches. Plan accordingly. There is also one barren old mountain outhouse near the towers, just off the trail. It is known to several runners as 'New Mexico's highest outhouse!". I haven't been in there in at least two years and cannot attest to its current condition. Know that it's there in an emergency or for a sweet photo-op.

New Mexico's highest outhouse
New Mexico's highest outhouse - just below the Tesuque Peak towers, 11,950ft
Aspen Vista can accommodate a lot of parking but the lot does fill with 150+ runners, volunteers, and spectators (and hikers/aspen-watchers). Those planning to arrive past 8:30am will likely need to park along the road. If you plan to register on race day give yourself a bit of time and try to arrive by 8:15am (or drop into the Running Hub to register in person by Friday). Drive time from town to Aspen Vista is approx. 40min. 

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