This is a review of the Bear Chase 13.1 or half-marathon.
First, a quick introduction to how I review races.
Races, to me, serve a purpose. I am not a gazelle and will never win any of these races, so I pick runs that are long and will challenge me. It is easy to stay with 5K’s, finish in a half hour and move on with your life. I want more than that. I want an experience and the half-marathon always seems to be a very rewarding distance. Things start to get ugly for me around the 8 to 9 miles mark and that gives me a good 5 miles to sort my life out. In a review we need to look at a couple things.
- Did the race challenge me?
- Was it well planned and organized?
- Were there still beer and pancakes at the finish line. You know, that kind of stuff.
So let’s break this race down because I had a lot of fun running it and look forward to running it next year.
Start time 7:00 a.m.
Bear Chase is in Bear Creek park in Lakewood. This is part of a series of races by David Manthey and Runner’s Edge of the Rockies. The race is easy to get to. Just take 470 and get off on the Morrison exit. It is on the east side where you drive by in the summer and see people water skiing on a small lake. Heck, I never knew there was a park there, so I was very surprised that it existed and that they could make a 13.1 mile course out of it. It turns out that the park is pretty massive and there are more than enough trails to make this work.
7:00 a.m. is the perfect time to start the run. As you can see, the sun was just starting to come up and there was an energy in the air. A mix of anticipation, awe, and serenity. It is always fascinating to me how an event can have an energy of it’s own. The weather in the mid 50’s was perfect.
I am a simple man and I only need a couple of things pre-race. The ability to park, find a bathroom and get to the starting line. It seems simple but it is critical. The volunteers at Bear Chase were well-trained, polite and really seemed to be into volunteering. In addition, there were bathrooms in the parking lot as well as by the start line. Smart. Those of us in the know also found the park bathrooms were also unlocked. Parking was easy, the start line was about 400 yards away and in my usual fashion, I arrive at the starting line with 45 seconds to go due to a last minute bathroom stop.
I don’t know how to estimate the size of a crowd for a single track trail race. There enough people there to fill up the start line and everyone was able to disperse and find their grouping by the first quarter mile. That is good because I always hang out near the back of the pack and try to settle in to my pace. I don’t want to slow anyone down.
One of the great things about races are the people you meet and the runners here were some of the friendliest. In fact, I was talking to one woman whose sister had run the 50 mile the day before. We were talking about Ragnar Relays and she wanted to team up and do one. We were supposed to exchange numbers so we could put a team together but we ended up getting separated and it never happened. So, if you are reading this and still want to do a Ragnar… I would also be up for Chase the Moon.
Enough about me. The course for the half-marathon featured two pretty good hill climbs, three stream crossings and a vast swath of level trails. Nothing exceeding technical which is a good thing. We started off fairly level for the first mile or so until the first hill climb. I always get confused whether to call a small mountain a mountain or a big hill. It is a good sized hill, let’s leave it at that. Steep enough that I chose to power hike instead of run. Credit to the photographer that hiked up the other side just to take pictures of us on the decent.
On the website, they warn you about stream crossings along with the notion that once you do it, you will want more in the future. I agree 100%. I know some runners were freaking out at the prospect of getting their feet wet but as a guy who does obstacle course races, this was a pleasure to go through. Every race should have them.
The water was probably shin to knee deep. Not a problem if you have decent shoes and non-cotton socks.
The rest of the course was single track trail with some paths as you wind around the park.
One really nice aspect of the race was how the course was planned. The water and steep hills were fairly early in the race. The midpoint featured single track out in the open. The last quarter wound through the creek with shade trees. I was getting hot and tired at this point and there is nothing better than a little shade. Whoever designed the route, thank you for that little kindness.
Swags and Pancakes
We can all pretend like we don’t care about the medals, but come on…look at this!
After burning 3,000 plus calories, can you imagine how good this tasted!
Hopefully I have given you a good idea of the race. You have the choice of 10K, Half-marathon, 50K, 50 Mile and 100K next year.
These days between Spartan Races, trail runs and road races and my day job as personal trainer, I keep a busy schedule. Races I love are put on the calendar for next year with a few slots for fill in runs. The Bear Chase is a definite for me next year even though it is a week before the Ridgeline. I really enjoyed everything about it. I know that in doing reviews, one should point out a few negatives but I don’t have any. If you are thinking about doing a trail race, this is a great one to pick. It is challenging without being soul-crushingly hard.