Disclaimer: I received a free entry to Route 66 Marathon race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!
Route 66 would mark my first marathon in almost two years, and the longest run since completing Yeti 100. After taking some time to recover, I designed a four-week workout plan to keep my legs moving and hopefully build some speed before I toed the start line. Since I started running ultras, speed work has taken a backburner – my focus was more on survival.
I arrived in Tulsa on Saturday at 10:30 am and hopped on the hotel shuttle for a quick ride to the Hyatt Hotel for check in. After dropping off my gear, I boarded the hotel shuttle for a ride to the Cox Business Center for the expo and packet pickup. My timing was perfect! The packet pickup booths were nearly empty as I walked up to the VIP check in. As a BibRave ambassador, I was given a free entry into The Mother Road VIP (more on this below).
The expo was just like any other expo…vendors, vendors, and more vendors. Not my ideal place to shop before a race. However, there were a couple of cool vehicles and the Tulsa SPCA brought in a couple dogs. Dogs always bring a smile to my face!
Route 66 is hands down the best race atmosphere I’ve experienced in several years. This was a community event! Everyone I encountered during my weekend getaway was super friendly and helpful…from packet pickup to the local pub.
I chose the Hyatt due to its proximity to the starting line and the VIP tent. Gearing up for the race was going to be tricky as the morning temps started out in the mid-30s and were expected to climb into the 60s by noon (my goal finish time). As a BibRave Pro representative, I wore their singlet. This not only promotes them, but also helps other athletes as they search for their perfect race. BibRave athletes also review other brand’s products and provide an unbiased opinion for the greater good. In order to combat the chilly air, I also wore my arm sleeves and gloves. This combination kept me at the perfect race temp! Well, until I hit mile 20ish and had to start peeling them.
Upon making my way to the entrance to the VIP area, I checked my post-race gear (long sleeve shirt and jacket) and then grabbed some water and stepped into the heated tent. My time in the tent was short-lived – it was too small and overcrowded. So, I decided to spend the remaining time (before the race start) doing some dynamic stretching and making a couple trips into the heated bathroom trailer.
My wait in Corral A wouldn’t last long…I arrived moments before the National Anthem. Once it was over, the wheelchair participants were released, then five-minutes later we were, too. I had no idea what to expect of the course. I had previously read that Oklahoma was flat, and the course profile didn’t look terrible. Not long after we crossed the finish line we encountered the first downhill…then our first uphill. This would continue for the next 26.5 miles! When not focused on the hills, I had to keep my eyes trained to the road because of all the cracks and potholes.
The community really came out to support us. There wasn’t a mile that went by when there wasn’t someone along the route cheering, handing out beer, or jello shots. There was even a group handing how leis – I’ve never been leied on a run before!
As we ran the streets of Tulsa, it was clearly evident security was priority #1 for Route 66. Local cops were at every main intersection and at multiple points along the course. There wasn’t a time where I felt vulnerable, so thank you! I always feel appreciative of their time and thank each one as I pass by.
Part of the Route 66 experience is to run to the Center of the Universe (Link). This is a .03 mile off the main route where you can stop and scream and no one would be able to hear you due to the acoustics. I didn’t scream. However, I did pick up a coin from Santa Claus and quickly made my way back to the main course.
As I made it towards the finish line, I noticed the official race clock ticking off 3:50:07. I had one goal as I crossed the starting line – finish! Second goal was to beat four hours. As I reflected on my race I didn’t expect to hop on the “Struggle Bus” (aka hitting the wall) at mile 20. I was feeling great, and then I just ran out gas and could no longer keep an eight-minute pace. My pace was reduced to a crawl!
As I crossed the finish line, I was given a solar blanket which would come in handy until I could get my drop bag. After receiving the medal, I was offered water and a Muscle Milk. Needless to say, Muscle Milk is not a replacement to chocolate milk! As I left the finisher’s area there was an area with pizza, bananas, and snack bars. As I exited, I walked across the street to the VIP area where I had to walk up two flights of stairs. Sore legs and an exhausted body were not enough to keep me from delicious food and unlimited stash of beer. I found a comfy chair and loaded up my plate. Time to refuel, rehydrate, and relax! If you’re a beer connoisseur like I am, head down to McNellie’s where they have over 350 beers available!
Overall, this was a great experience! If you are adding this race to your race bucket list then I would recommend doing lots of hill training.
This was the post-marathon email I received:
“The 2017 Williams Route 66 Marathon is over, and guess what? You rocked it! Over 10,000 runners from all 50 states and more than 10 countries swarmed the streets of Tulsa and showed the world just how much fun running can be! We hope you had a fantastic weekend and enjoyed every moment. Training is tough (to say the least), but we like to think it’s all worth it when you cross that finish line and see the Goddess of Speed hanging around your neck!”
The VIP Mother Road package is a complete race weekend experience that will make you feel like King or Queen of the road! Participants who purchase the VIP Mother Road Package will receive:
- Express packet pick-up at the Health and Fitness Expo: Don’t worry about fighting the lines at the expo to get your race packet. We will have it ready and waiting for you at a special VIP pick up area just inside the Expo entrance. No lines, no fuss!
- Commemorative race poster
- Heated Pre-Race VIP Area Access:Stay out of the weather before the race in our heated private VIP area! Located right near the start line, the VIP area offers private potties, private gear check, heaters, and a variety of beverages and snacks for your pre-race enjoyment.
- Exclusive Indoor Post-Race Party: Bask in the glory of your magnificent race finish in our indoor VIP area! No matter what the weather, it’s perfect in here. The post-race party features catered food, beverages, and free beer and wine (21+), as well as a lounging area and real bathrooms! It’s the ultimate celebration.