The end of the year is when runners start deciding on which spring race they will be running (if they haven’t already that is). The Salt Lake City Marathon in Utah takes place the second week of April. I ran it last year, and here is what you should know in order to help you decide if it is the spring race you want to run.
1. SLC is at ~45000 feet
If you live below 4500 feet, than running in Salt Lake may feel harder. Since 2014 I have lived in Utah on and off, however while training for this race we were living in Portland, OR (check out my favorite running routes in Portland!). Training for this race went pretty good! I hit my paces most the time and I went into the SLC marathon feeling confident. However, I disregarded the fact that I trained at sea level and hadn’t been back in Utah long enough to adjust to the higher elevation. So have a race plan that takes the elevation into consideration.
2. It’s a hilly course, with over 1,000 feet elevation gain
Not only does this race take place at high elevation, it has a fair amount of elevation gain! According to my Garmin, there was 1,023 feet. The first five miles are downhill, and the last few miles are flat, but in between you have a lot of rollers. Be sure to get in hill training if you are going to run this one!
3. But it has a 1,653 feet of descent
As I said above, the first 5ish miles are all downhill, so that takes up a chunk of the elevation loss right there. Be careful not to let the downhill make you go out too fast! It will come back to bite you later. The rollers in the middle of the race give you some nice downhills then too which help balance out the uphills.
4. The logistics are a piece of cake
I love a race that makes getting to the start easy, plus makes getting back to your hotel/car easy too! This race starts up at the U of U, and to get up there you get on Trax (which is what Utah calls their lightrail). Trax runs throughout Salt Lake County, so regardless where you are, it’s pretty easy to drive or walk to the nearest station. If you are staying downtown than it’s even easier! We stayed at the Marriott which is the host hotel. It took ten minutes or less to get to Trax, and the ride took about another 10 minutes to get to the U. I love that there’s no schedules shuttle time to take you to the start, you could literally arrive 5 minutes before the race starts if you so choose.
The finish is also downtown, so walking distance to the hotels, as well as walking distance to the trax station.
5. It’s very scenic
The U is up on a hill so the run down is so beautiful! Great views of the valley! You also run through two parks -Sugarhouse Park (same place where the SLC Haunted Half ends) and Liberty Park, which is also pretty. Even the sections through residential areas are nice!
6. The Finish line festival was just okay
When I talk about the finish line festival I am mainly talking about the food provided. This one didn’t have that great of snacks so that was disappointing. They do have a kids 1k that takes place at the finish so that was cute.
7. SLC is the perfect temperature in April
April in Salt Lake is still nice and cool. When I ran it had even snowed the morning of the race at like 3am! Luckily it stopped by the morning, and it didn’t stick to the asphalt or anything. Even though it may be chilly, expect the sun to come out as the morning progresses. I feel like the sun is more intense in Utah, due to the higher elevation. I have lived in California and Arizona, yet I never had a sunburn till I moved to Utah.
I wore a tank top with arm warmers, gloves and a gaiter. All of which I shed at some point in the latter end of the race.
8. It also has a half marathon for those interested
If you aren’t interested in the full, they also have a half! Which is less hilly than the full. I haven’t done it, but when I do I will be sure to make an official review of it 🙂
9. There’s good crowd support
This race actually had pretty good crowd support. Lots of people outside their houses cheering you on, and lots of funny signs. At Liberty Park (which is like mile 24/25) there were people cheering us on which definitely helps when you are at that stage of the race.
10. Great swag!
This race not only has cool medals and a nice tach tee, you get free race photos! Some races, *cough cough RnR San Diego marathon* charge an arm and a leg for photos! So it’s awesome you get these ones for free!
11. Plus, Utah is a great place to visit!
SLC is a unique city, plus it’s just a short drive from famous park city! Then you have Moab/Zion four hours south. I have yet to write a post on the best restaurants in SLC, but there are a lot of great places in the area. There’s lots of awesome hikes, plus it’s the center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, so the makes it unique.