Revel Marathon

Revel Marathon #107

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This was my inaugural Revel race, set along the breathtaking Kancamagus Highway. I decided to participate after seeing a post from our Fleet Feet marathon page, inviting others to join. I  realized I needed one more marathon to make Hartford my official 100th , though technically, this my 107th marathon due to completing nine virtual marathons in 2020.

REVEL races can best be described by two words: Fast & Beautiful. Their events take place in the most beautiful venues available in the areas in which they are held. REVEL races seek to maximize the time our runners spend running in canyons, forests, state or national parks, and so forth. In addition, the downhill nature of REVEL races provides a unique opportunity for runners to achieve personal best times and qualify for exclusive events. In other words, you will run a net downhill marathon that could make your quads feel like they were shredded.

The House

I took charge of arranging accommodations for the race, conducting thorough research to ensure the selected house could comfortably accommodate our group of 13 people.  After booking the property, I  organized room assignments based on everyone’s preferences using a spreadsheet.  However, when we arrived, I was immediately struck with panic as I questioned whether we had chosen the right house – it seemed too small.  I quickly opened up my VRBO app and confirmed that indeed it was the correct property.  Despite my initial apprehension, upon stepping inside, I was pleasantly surprised by the spaciousness of the house.  Featuring multiple sets of bedrooms on the second level, six bathrooms, and impressive amenities such as a game room equipped with a ping pong table, pool table, foosball table, darts, and even a sauna, the house exceeded our expectations and proved to be the perfect choice!

The Expo

The expo took place at the Ham Arena, an ice-skating rink. There was no ice, but my body was frozen by the time we left. While not expansive, the expo featured a curated selection of vendors offering IVs, compression boots, stylish Goodr sunglasses, as well as an assortment of clothing and race swag. What set this expo apart was the thoughtful gesture of the volunteers—they took the time to securely tie our check bag tags to our bags and provided detailed instructions, a practice I hadn't encountered at previous marathons. This simple yet efficient step significantly streamlined the gear check process, minimizing the chaos at the start line. Inside our checked bags, we found essential items like a heat shield, disposable gloves, various samples, and a Revel sticker. We were able to swap out our race shirts and upgrade them to a nice soft blend for a $5.00 up charge. I love my Revel T-shirt.

The Race:

We had to catch the bus between 3:15 - 4:15 am, so I set my alarm for 2:15 am and hoped I’d wake up.  Upon waking, I walked outside to check the weather and realized it was not freezing. I made the decision to leave my warm NYC post-marathon poncho behind – a choice I would soon regret. I was planning on wearing shorts, a tank top, arm sleeves and a long sleeve throw away shirt, I felt prepared.  However, as the buses dropped us off in the still-dark morning, I looked outside said to Kim , “OMG,  it looks really windy outside”.

The rolling fog added to the chilly atmosphere.  Kim said, “That’s because we’re on top of the mountain”.  I immediately pulled out my rain poncho, realizing the need for extra warmth.  With my ears beginning to feel the cold, I grabbed my peloton hat and pulled the poncho over my head, then wrapped my legs with the heat shield.  Finding a spot on the ground and I sat down to stay warm, knowing we still had an hour before we would begin.  With just 15 minutes remaining, we decided to get back into the long bathroom line. I took off my throw away pants and headed to the corrals. Audrey and I spotted discarded jackets and layered up. I wore that sweatshirt for the first two miles hoping I wouldn’t see the original owner. 

The first 6 miles of the course were a relentless downhill decent, putting some serious strain on my quads.  Running downhill for such a long time was challenging, and I couldn’t wait for it to level off.  Thankfully, the next 6 miles the grade lessened from 7% to 3%.  Transitioning onto the out-and-back segment from mile 10 to mile 11.5, we encountered significant uphill stretches. We spotted quite a few of our runners during this part that brought a sense of camaraderie, reminiscent of the Hartford Marathon's out-and-back section where Kim and I used to make predictions about who we'd encounter first. Upon turning around, it felt like once again we were going back uphill!  The next 6 miles featured rolling downhill stretches that reminded me of the Big Sur marathon. Though the scenery along the Saco River offered breathtaking vistas reminiscent of the Clarence Demar Marathon, the uneven road camber brought to mind the challenges faced during the Napa Marathon, making this stretch of the race particularly demanding.

I recall glancing up and spotting the 21-mile marker and yelling out to the couple next to me “holy crap, we are already on mile 21”! The dude gave me a bewildered look, but the woman running alongside him joined my pace. Our cadences matched perfectly, and we stuck together until mile 25. At one point she looked at me and said, “We got this”!  I felt unstoppable the last 6 miles. I was so happy that I was seeing my splits were the low 8’s especially at the end of the marathon.  As we approached mile 25 a police officer was directing traffic to ensure runners could safely cross the main street to get to the finish.

Finally, there was some crowd support. It was sparse, with about 99% of the course did not have any cheering spectators.  Instead, all we could hear were the footsteps of the runners echoing along the course. 

The Finish

I crossed the finish line and was pleased with my time of 3:42. It wasn’t my fastest marathon, considering my inconsistent training, but I was satisfied with the results. The rain had just started, and I was starting to get cold.  I was taken back by the absence of heat shields and soon found myself shivering!  I finally got my gear check bag and put on some warm clothes.

Next, I joined a long line to get my race result printout.  I was so happy to find out that I placed 2nd in my new age bracket.  As the rain continued, we made our way to the shuttle bus.  Along the way, we spotted Danielle and Kerry who mentioned they were waiting for Fernanda to finish. We decided to wait, eagerly scanning the runners looking for her.  In a moment of mistaken identity, we started  yelling ‘Fernanda, Fernanda!” only to realized it was not her.  Then finally we spotted the real Fernanda and gave her hugs before heading to catch the bus. The bus driver was very kind, urging us to take our time climbing aboard, recognizing our post-race discomfort.  She took us back to where the car was parked car and we drove back to the house for our final night. Everyone did very well!  Audrey placed 1st in her age group and achieved a had a personal record (PR). Jess, Jose, and Danielle also celebrated PRs. Rebecca and Dave ran the half marathon and also had great runs. Both Kim and I Boston Qualified at a race we were planning on running a 4 hour marathon.

It was a fantastic weekend, made even more special by the camaraderie shared among this incredible group of runners, who feel more like family,  I am so grateful to have to have such wonderful people in my life.

Would I do this race again?  Especially now that I know what to expect.  There is talk of another Revel Marathon in 2025. Maybe they will change the course and run it in reverse all uphill.