“So you wanna run a trail marathon this weekend?” asked Bryce, one of the trainers at Ute CrossFit on Thursday morning as I was training. My initial thought was a big NO and yet YES at the same time. I knew I needed a long day on my feet, but hadn’t really run any distance since Nicaragua. I got home, made sure the schedule was clear then sent him a message later in the day saying, yes I was in.
The marathon he was talking about is the Bonneville Shoreline Trail Marathon (BoSho for short), an unsanctioned, unofficial, and unbelievably fun race here in Salt Lake City. It’s one of those races where and email is sent out before the event and then you show up on race day, sign in on a sheet of paper – so they know who is racing, then you run. No bibs, no finisher medals, no race t-shirts, no fancy accommodations, just a group of rogue runners, following pink ribbons for hours. These type of races are known as Bandit Races or Fatass Races. They happen all over the country and maybe there are some near you. Entry fee is zero, you bring your own nutrition or in the case of this race, donate some stuff to the two aid stations. The timing is run on a watch, and basically it is just a group of random runners out on the trail.
I got to the parking lot at around 6:45AM the first group had already headed out (If more than 75 people go at a time you need a permit so they split the start). I saw friends Bryce and Bobbie Jo, otherwise milled around until the start. A group of about 30 or 40 of us lined up, well stood around. Then were told to go. We headed into the first part of the course known as “Unkel F—er,” the 700’ climb and quickly I found myself in the back of the pack. I had a hard week of training and knew I am always a slow starter so I had no fear. I ran with a lady for a little while who was traversing the trail with ease in her Luna Sandals. I was glad to have my Inov-8 roclite 268’s on as I would have stubbed more than a toe or two running down the first descent. I quickly realized this would be a day of running and not any sort of speed record.
As I got to the first aid station (also the start and finish) I dropped my windbreaker, filled up on water and continued to run. Later I would wish I had the windbreaker as I was running along ridge lines, but we live and learn. I settled into the slow run, put my iPod on and followed the markers, through a creek bed, up more terrain, and along the ridge line to the parking lot at I-Street where the second aid station was. I asked how far I had run, my Garmin never charged the night before and was running on feel alone. I was told I had gone about 11 miles, the next loop was 10 miles and then I had a final 5+ miles on the way back. So from that point on instead of thinking about running a marathon I was simply running 11 miles, then 10 miles, then just 5 miles. Mentally it made it seem easy.
I resupplied then headed off again, along the way I saw a couple, chatted for about a minute or two then passed them and continued on my way. At this point I was literally almost last place. Had it not been for the couple I passed I would have been last. Because this race is really low-key some opt to stop racing and head back to the starting line either at aid station one or when they reach the second aid station. It seemed anyone who was behind me was on that plan. I soldiered on music playing, exploring new trails. If I had brought my phone I would have taken many pictures along the way.
I finished what seemed like a never-ending climb in the second loop then made a massive descent followed by another climb back to that second aid station. I was sore and slow, they asked me if I was having fun, yes was my answer. It was fun, fun to just be outside, even though the ridge lines had been freezing and it had started to piss rain and super windy in places, it was still fun. My body was aching from some of the climbs and descents but my spirits were good.
As I approached about mile 22 or so something clicked in me. All of a sudden I felt great, my legs still ached but the pain went away, my stride loosened, running was easy and carefree, my pace quickened, and I found myself bounding gleefully like a child on the trails. The grin across my face was priceless. It was as if something woke back up in me and a weight was lifted. Often when I run my brain works through a lot of crap. This run I didn’t think I had been processing stuff but I guess at mile 22 something cleared up. I broke out of whatever room I had been held captive in my brain. I was just running, feeling good, and moving faster! Well faster than before. Within the last mile or so I passed another guy, making me the fourth to last finisher for the day of the 7:00am start. It didn’t matter it took me 6:38:14 to run 26.2 mountain miles and over 5,000 feet of elevation gain. The fast was in the last couple of miles instead of dragging myself to the finish, I felt uplifted and ready to run more.
Bonus of coming in so late in the race, the race organizers (who will remain anonymous) gave me the food that was left over from the aid stations along with a couple lip balms that were donated by a company. Score for me. Food and lip balm beat out medals and trophies any day, especially when you go home to a hungry boyfriend. Overall, this low-key race was one of the best things I have done in a while. I wasn’t trained for it, wasn’t really prepared for it, and didn’t know what I was in for, I just went, ran, and then went home. The BoSho is really racing in it’s purest form, a far cry from the hyped up events that fill my calendar but one of the most fun.