Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wasatch 100 Course Change Analysis

In case you haven't heard or you were in denial, it's true, the last 14 miles of the Wasatch 100 course has been changed for 2013. I didn't want to believe it at first because dealing with change seems to get harder the older I get. So I stayed in denial up until this week when I decided I better get to know the new course a little better.

The Wasatch 100 website states that the main reason behind changing the route is because the existing course crosses private land. My gut tells me there are multiple factors, but since I can't confirm them I will leave them out of this public forum.

  • I have not run the new route yet so this analysis is based strictly on elevation data and perception of running surfaces.
  • I am only covering the changes from where the Rock Springs aid station used to be (approx. mile 87) to the new finish. There is also a change leaving Upper Big Water where the new course will take a more direct and slightly steeper route to Dog Lake. This is to make up for some of the length added by the new finish stretch.
  • No one asked me to perform this analysis, I did it simply to gain an understanding of the new route.
For those of you in a hurry I present the Infographic:
Surface type shown for previous course on top, new course surface type shown on the bottom.
The shift in profiles is due to the shortened route from Upper Big Water to Dog Lake. Instead of Rock Springs being at mile ~87.5 it will be at mile ~87. By my measurement the new course is still long, even with the shortened section. The total I come up with is 100.8 miles.

The aerial perspective:
New course shown in RED, previous course in YELLOW. Download the KML
As you can see the new finish is at Soldier Hollow instead of the Homestead. The new course adds 3.5 miles of pavement and more dirt road. There is also less elevation gain and loss. Runners finishing after the sun comes up will likely experience higher traffic on the paved sections and some of the dirt roads. The long climb shown in the profile to the Station Cut-Off aid station is on a dirt road that looks similar to the dirt road leaving the old Pot Bottom aid station.

Even with the course being a little longer, which isn't that big of a deal, I think the new route will be 30 to 45 minutes faster than the previous course. Of course that is all relative to the condition you are in when you reach this point in the race. I'll go run the new route in the next couple of weeks and report back with my impression of it.

I for one will miss the torture chamber and even the Dive and the Plunge. But if one thing is constant in this world it is change. You can either embrace it or let the world move on without you.

Any thoughts on the changes? Have you run this new section? Let us know below.


JimM said...

Thanks Christen.

I am trying to keep an open mind but adding almost four more miles of pavement in place of what we had in my mind really takes away from what made Wasatch special. I am sure the RD has weighed the options and time will tell.

I plan on hitting this section early on the 4th so I will let you know my thoughts once I have ran it.

Dan said...

Great look at the new finish. Thanks Christian.

Dan B

Anonymous said...

Lame - less descent, less climbing and longer.

Jay said...

Ran the course route from Brighton to the finish today. I was sadly disappointed in how much paved and graded gravel road there is. If you like pavement, exposure and lots of vehicle and ATV traffic, then the new course is for you! My take is this... We'll see front and middle of the pack runners clocking much faster times. In comparing my times on the old and new course, I estimate I will be 45-50 minutes faster. Back of the pack runners will suffer. It is exposed and there will be lots of dust from heavy vehicle and ATV traffic. This is not the place anybody wants to be n Saturday afternoon. And for runners of all abilities, Wasatch just won't be the same without Irv's Torture Chamber, The Dive, and the Plunge... I guess I need to get over my disappoint and go buy some road shoes!

Scott said...

Sounds like they better buy some more burger king crowns.

I thought the issue with Private Land was after Pot Bottom? Too Bad.