The Moonlight Run is the annual night race held each March in Lethbridge, Alberta. This year marks the 27th running of the Moonlight Run! This race always fills up, as runners can chose between the 6km or 10km distance. The 2500 runner capacity easily gets reached! I am signed up for the 10km this Saturday, March 8th, and have set some goals for myself this year. The Moonlight Run has placings that go 5 deep in each gender-age category—but I am aiming for top 3 in the female 25-29. This is my main goal. And since I set this goal, I decided it would be a good idea to do a dry-run of the course, which I did on Friday. The course has some new additions to it this year and I wanted to set a strategy!
Both race distances begin and end at CASA, our new community arts centre, on 3rd Ave South. The racers will head west towards the river bottom—no turns at all for the first mile. Included in the first mile is the massive downhill which is affectionately called “Wendy’s Hill” by us at marathon club. The hill goes by a Wendy’s…what more do you want in a name? The start is at approximately 913 metres of elevation (2,995 feet) and after the descent into the river bottom a runner will be at 825 metres (2,706 feet). That all happens in that first mile!
The first mile has lots of open space to call your own, but once you are in the river bottom, it’s a different story. The 10 km runners will head towards the train bridge and Highway 3, where they will ultimately turn around just after the overpass. This then will make the course even more narrow after the mile 2 turnaround, as you will have runners going both directions. It is very important that I place myself in a good racing position well before the mile 2 turnaround, as passing will then become next to impossible.
At mile 3, runners will turn on the path towards the river. Once I get to this turn, I will now be in an area I have raced on many times. Most recently was during the Claus Cause 10km in November when I PR’d with a 45:37. It was a course one would not consider getting a PR on, but I seem to have a thing with getting my best times on crazy winding, hilly local Lethbridge courses. It will be important to run the tangents in this segment and also hug the curve as needed. My short 5’3″ self needs to use any advantage I can get!
From mile 3 until about mile 5.5, runners are just circulating through the Indian Battle Park trails. I know from past years it is obviously quite dark down there, but with my head lamp and the lights from the volunteers all will be good! There were some icy patches still on Friday, and the Polar Vortex temperatures from this weekend definitely did not melt these. Hopefully this week brings warmer temperatures to melt those suckers!
The last challenge to tackle is the run back up Wendy’s Hill. This year, the 10km racers will head up on the trail which is parallel to the road, while the 6km runners get the road. I have to say—this trail is a pain!. Pictures don’t even begin to show how intense it is. There are some interesting sections that get pretty steep! I’m just going to have to find the power in me and push, push, push up this climb! The faster I run, the sooner I’m done! We will join onto the main road about 3/4 up the hill, and then it’s a straight shot back to CASA.
This is a challenging course-but really, all courses in Lethbridge are tough. The hills on Lethbridge courses are inevitable unless you are just doing a 5km. Over the last year of running with Runners Soul, my confidence has increased immensely when it comes to tackling these hills. That, along with my time drops in the past year, is why I have set this lofty goal for my first race out this year. No matter what my time and place ends up to be this Saturday, the Moonlight Run will be a great race to kick off the 2014 season!
Here is the link to the PDF map of the 2014 6km and 10km course for Moonlight Run, presented by Runners Soul!