Given to Tri

Race Report: Grand Teton Half Marathon

Recently, I’ve been debating if it’s worth it to keep writing race reports for running races because I’ve done a few now, running is not my specialty, and I simply treat them as part of my triathlon training. But this one is a little special because I podiumed for the first time in my life, so here it goes.

Me, mid-stride at the finish chute of the Grand Teton Half Marathon. I'm wearing a black running hat, gold sunglasses, a red henley, black tights, and orange shoes.
Just before the finishing line. Credit: Grand Teton Half Marathon

After my painful run at St. George, I visited Dr. Bullington at Teton Orthopaedics to get my knee looked at, which thankfully revealed it wasn’t a serious issue, but a simple patellar tracking issue—a muscle imbalance between my quads and hamstring or possibly a tight IT band pulling my kneecap out of alignment. He said I wouldn’t cause any damage if I kept training but referred me to Peak Physical Therapy in Wilson to get started on some PT and get it resolved.

While I’ve been doing that, I’ve been taking it very easy on my runs, so my plan was to still do this race, but treat it as my long, easy run for the week. For the most part, I’ve been capping my runs at one hour out of an abundance of caution, but I did a 1:30 brick run the week of the race and the knee felt great, so I was optimistic I’d be able to run a half marathon without issues.

The Grand Teton Half Marathon seems to be the largest, most well-organized of the three local half marathons in Jackson Hole, with about 1,800 participants. The course starts at the Stilson Lot next to Rendezvous Park, heads towards Wilson for a couple of kilometers before heading back over the Snake River on the community pathway, and then turning on Spring Gulch Road about halfway through, where it’s mostly uphill until the finish line at the Jackson Hole Golf Club, with great views of the Tetons along the way (if they hadn’t been completely socked in, which they were on race day).

A screenshot of a Google Maps view of the route of the Grand Teton Half Marathon.

The weather had been pretty wet in the couple of weeks leading up to the race, with storms almost every day, so unsurprisingly, it was chilly, drizzly, and overcast the morning of the race. Kate dropped me off at the Stilson Lot at about 5:30 AM, and I did a lot of stretching and warming up while I waited for the race to start at 6:30 AM. I got placed in the “blue wave” based on my expected sub-2 finishing time, and they had various pacers within that wave.

In the tumult at the starting line, I got mixed up and accidentally seeded myself with the 1:40 pacer group, but rather than wait for the next group, I just went with it, even though it was slightly faster than my past half marathon paces. To my surprise, the 4:45 min/km (7:38 min/mi) pace felt great so… I sent it. I managed to hold that pace for most of the race with no pain or discomfort in my knee, only slowing down a little bit towards the second half of the race, since it was slightly uphill.

While my knee felt great the entire race, I did run into a few small issues. A few months ago I got a free sample of Compressport running socks, and liked them enough that I recently ordered a few pairs of the no-show version. They’ve been fine with my cycling shoes and the Hoka Clifton 8 running shoes I use on my treadmill, but I hadn’t tried them with the Hoka Carbon X 3 shoes I wear to run outside. Boy, was that a mistake. The shoes chafed right in my ankles badly enough that both shoes are now covered in blood. At least I didn’t find out in the middle of an Ironman.

Separately, I missed the fact that it was a cupless race, so I didn’t bring a bottle or a reusable cup, and as a result I didn’t have any hydration for the entire race. I had a Maurten 100 Caf gel right before the start and that was about it for nutrition. Thankfully, I didn’t need any more than that, although the aid stations were pretty well stocked with Honey Stinger gels and waffles, bananas, and oranges.

Despite those two minor mistakes, I was able to finish the race just fine. Per my GPS, the distance was slightly short of the 21.1 km of a half marathon, at 20.89 km (12.98 mi), and I finished in 1:42:16, for a pace of 4:54 min/km (7:53 min/mi). My official time and pace were 1:42:11.7 and 4:44 min/km (7:48 min/mi). More importantly, I finished first in my age group (male 40-44), out of 51, and 45th overall, out of 1,858, so I managed to get on a podium for the first time in my life. Not bad!

A close-up of the gold medal for the Grand Teton Half Marathon. The medal has "1st place male 40-44" printed at the top, and is embossed with an image of Cascade Canyon, the words "Grand Teton Half Marathon," and a running person.

Needless to say, I am beyond happy with this result, considering a year ago I had never done a half marathon, and a couple years ago I could barely run more than a minute without stopping. Can I do this again next weekend at the Jackson Hole Half Marathon? We’ll see.

You May Also Like