Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Tacoma Marathon course

Whenever I run a marathon, and ESPECIALLY a peaked race I like to get my head around the course well in advance. In fact, my wife will ask me why I haven't put up latest race map on my little "running wall" if she doesn't see it.

I have been to Tacoma and even driven across the Tacoma Narrows bridge, but it was years ago. 

Those of us that were not snoozing in high school physics remember the movie of the first version of the bridge and it's horrible aeroelastic flutter problem. Here's a youtube video made from the 16mm movies taken in 1950:



Luckily the new bridge does not seem to have any problems.....so far 8)

Besides the usual aid station cups, Tacoma is offering a new kind of aid station technology... the "Hydra pouch".....take a look at the description and videos of the use here.  

If more marathons would switch to this it would be really great: Save a lot of  labor filling, handing out, and cleaning up cups (and the cups can be very slippery especially when they use the plastic ones!)  The pouch lets you drink your water easier after hitting the station, and let you come in and get a slug of water without fuss. 

Normally I would not try anything new in a race, but this is such a good idea I think I will get one and try it out in this race..I can always go for the cups if it's not working out.

Below  is the Tacoma course and elevation profile.  It's right on Puget sound so hopefully the temps will be cool (historically they generally are). 

The elevation profile looks worse than it is: the bridge deck is not shown in the database properly, it's at 187'. There is a bit of a climb after the bridge..it's about 180' over a mile (3% grade). Then there's some nice rolling downhills. There is a bit of a slight uphill in the last mile.

I'm guessing this is probably about the same as Eugene. Eugene had 500' of up down and it had endless rollers in the last few miles, which really sucked. (I like rollers earlier, as long as they are NET DOWN like CIM..I always want the last 4-6 miles flat).

Tacoma has a bigger uphill but a true net downhill which Eugene did not...but it does have that 1% climb in the last mile, which I'm sure I'll feel even if it is hard to see.

Tacoma is a point-to-point course, which I do like best of all. It's the coolest feeling to really feel like you are going from A to B, not just mucking about and ending up where you started. Tacoma does have some 'hairpins', which are small out-and-back stubs along the course to make the distance work out. That's too bad....again advantage CIM here it has NONE of that crap.  

In general, the straighter the course the easier it is to run tangents and the faster you will be, IMHO.

Right now I'm guessing CIM, Tacoma, Eugene as my course preferences for speed, but Tacoma could be worse...we'll see! Some poking around in google streetview will give me a better idea of the hills.
 
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