2014 Sunflower Trail Marathon and Relay recap

Ran my first trail marathon last Saturday and within the first half, I began to wonder if I picked the wrong race to try a trail marathon. This was TOUGH, by far the toughest course I’ve ever run for a marathon. How tough?

Compared to a few other marathons I’ve run recently, the Elevation gain/ Elevation loss:

  1. Victoria +3738 -3634
  2. Tunnel  +5347 -7483
  3. Sacramento +2681 – 2953
  4. Sunflower +8135 -8484

Although my thighs wouldn’t talk to me for a few days, the recovery is going well, don’t think I’ve done any permanent damage. (Yeah, I know that is a demented way to define ‘success’.)

Ignoring the steep hill climbs and (much worse) the descents, I really enjoyed this run. And I was pleased with my 4:30 finish time. The race meandered on parts of the vast network of cross country ski (hiking in the summer) trails maintained by the sponsor MVST. We also ran forest service roads, and seemingly endless single track mountain bike trails. The race stared in Mazama, headed down the Methow Valley and finished outside Twisp, WA.

I think the two keys to my enjoyment of this race are first the weather. Nearly ideal conditions. Mid 40s to start, plenty of clouds to block the heat of the sun and finished only in the upper 60s. This is well below the norm. With so much exposure on the ridges and saddles, running this in the exposed sun of 80 to 90 degrees (which it was last year) would have been ugly.

Second key, was my drinking. My goal was to drink at least 20 ounces per hour and I met that. May not sound too difficult but you really have to remind yourself and force yourself to drink this much, especially in the first half of the race.

Next year, I hope to be back. If I don’t get into Boston, I’ll run the whole thing again. But “if” my BQ is fast enough, since Boston is only 4 weeks before, I’ll join a team to only run a leg or two.

Lastly, want to give a shout out to my friend Snowden at Kaidel Sportswear. I ran in one of their running shirts and it felt great.

Sunflower Trail Marathon 5/10/2014

Sunflower Trail Marathon 5/10/2014- the easy part


The start, at Mazama country store

About half way up the steepest climb. I walked this one as did nearly everyone else.


In the spirit of the Sunflower marathon, Will hands me a sunflower at an aid station

Will ran 50 yards with me, at about half way point.

Will ran 50 yards with me, at about half way point.

I’ve blocked this hill climb from my memory


Tough to beat the scenery of the North Cascades. Mazama, WA.

About Scott

Training to qualify for the Boston Marathon and simplify our life, as a stay at home dad.
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9 Responses to 2014 Sunflower Trail Marathon and Relay recap

  1. Congrats on your first trail marathon! Holy elevation, that is crazy. But I suppose the more scenic the race, the tougher the climbs 🙂 That final picture has a gorgeous view!

  2. dawn @ running the dawn says:

    i like how you measure success! i’ve never dreamed of running a trail marathon, but those pictures have me thinking i need to do one. especially since i live in florida and we don’t have anything that beautiful. although…not sure how i would train for that kind of elevation here.

    great job!

    • If I can do it, you can too. Seattle is hilly some what but I really didn’t train running much hills. Saying that, and knowing my knees are still in ‘revolt’, 8 days after the race, perhaps I should try more hill training next year…Maybe try using a gym stair-master.

      Thanks for reading the blog.

  3. Frank K. says:

    I took a look at the profile on the website. Very daunting! But what a beautiful place to run. I can see why you wanted to do it. Congrats on a fine trail marathon!

  4. John says:

    Today I saw one of those 13.1 stickers on a bumper, but this one was larger than normal — under the number it read, “Because I’m only half crazy.”

  5. Pingback: Skagit Flast Marathon race report | 26.2 with Toddler

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