This Race Report is brought to you by Chaski Coach and HOKA Pro athlete Ashley Brasovan. Ashley is a multi-time National Champion and Team USA member, specializing in sub-ultra trail running. With a diverse résumé, Ashley has qualified for two Olympic Marathon Trials (on the roads) and was a standout high school athlete, winning the uber-prestigious Footlocker National Championship in 2007.
2020 has seen her run three distinctly different marathons: the Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta, Pike's Peak Marathon (running up and down to the summit of Pike's Peak), and finally, the US Trail Marathon Championships in Moab, UT.
Ashley shared a few quick thoughts after the race and below gives us her full recap from 26.2 miles of technical trail.
The Moab marathon is one of the most scenic, technical marathons in the US and was the largest race (in volume of people) in the US the weekend of Nov 7-8, 2020! The race features the sandy jeep roads and technical slick-rock across Moab with views of Arches National park and the La Sal Mountains in the distance. The marathon ends with a 5k “obstacle course” where runners climb ladders, duck through tunnels, and rope climb – after running the first 24 miles of a marathon. This race was adventure running at its finest.
With many races being canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19, the field for all of the races that I have personally run in 2020 have been loaded. This year’s US marathon championships was full of both seasoned road and trail runners and was extremely deep.
My personal race started out well but I snuck into 4th about halfway through the race and couldn’t make up the ground/time that I wanted to. I was behind Allie McLaughlin (2014 World Mountain running champion) and Janelle Lincks (2nd at the 2020 US Half marathon champs) for the whole race. I flipped back and forth with another woman for the first half until she finally put a gap on me about halfway through that I was never able to make up.
The first half of this race is the “easiest” as it is mostly sandy jeep roads and rocky single-track. The race splits off at about mile 10 from the half marathoners and this is when things get spicy. Right after the split is an out and back through a narrow canyon where racers have to punch their bibs with a hole punch….yes a hole punch similar to what you used back in elementary school.
At about mile 14, we started bushwhacking through some shrubs and got to the big climb of the race. Miles 14-16 climb over 1,000’ up steep, rocky terrain to the top of a mesa and from here you follow orange flags across slick rock – almost like a scavenger hunt. The last 5k is the obstacle course portion. This is where you just need to hang on and make it through after running the first 24 miles of this race. As fun and adventurous as this race was, I held onto 4th place from mile 10 to mile 26 and didn’t see another competitor for the remainder of the race.
Honestly, this was not my best day. I really wanted either a 1st or 2nd place finish. Looking back, I just think I had too much on the calendar this year and was adjusting to being healthy for the first full year in a long time. After the Olympic Marathon Trials in February, I should have taken an extended break instead of hopping right back into training – lesson noted and learned.
We all know that it is hard to take time off especially when you’re healthy. That is something that I need to get better at moving forward and showed with a less-than-ideal performance this weekend. I went into this race feeling a little mentally and physically burned out. Now it is time to take an off-season (for real) and get back to the base building phase before figuring out what racing will look like in 2021!