Canyon City Marathon Review

Happy weekend! Hope yours is off to a great start. I’m heading out on my favorite running path in a few minutes but wanted to stop by to write about one of my previous races since some of you are working towards a BQ!


Last November, I ran the Canyon City marathon just northeast of Los Angeles (Azusa, CA to be exact). Mark had a work trip in Palm Springs and asked if I wanted to join. Without hesitation I said yes and naturally proceeded to research the local races being held that weekend.  This REVEL series marathon and half marathon were on the list, and situated between LA and Palm Springs, so we signed up!

IMG_1150 touts this race as being the #1 fastest marathon in the country, a solid BQ option. I would say that unless you have appropriately trained for severe downhill running (i.e.- no give whatsoever in the first 13 miles), then this might not be a PR for you.

Here are my takeaways from the Canyon City marathon:

  • After running a 1:37 first half, I crossed the finish line in just under 4:00 hours with an incredible positive split. They always say that PRs are made from negative splits (i.e.- a race strategy where you complete the second half of a race faster than the first half). This marathon was not designed for negative splits. The first 13.1 is severely downhill (no give whatsoever), the second 13.1 with rolling hills where even flat grade feels uphill after the intense downhill. The slight bumps in the second half are not inconsequential. Recommendation: proper downhill technique is a must to conquer this race.

FullSizeRender (6)

  • Mental game with the change in elevation profile is also essential, and it was lacking for me on race day. As soon as my legs started to cramp at the half-way point, there were few spectators for encouragement and I mentally succumbed to the challenges of this marathon. I was disappointed in myself for allowing these thoughts creep in, and I am continuing to work on my mental strategy and mindset for these situations. I think that I should have just been honest with myself from the beginning that I wasn’t mentally and physically prepared for this race after signing up on a whim. Recommendation: keep your mental game in check and know why you are out there!
  • This is a scenic race. Situated deep in the San Gabriel Mountains, you feel like you’re trail running but able enjoy the easy pavement terrain. Recommendation: take in the spectacular sites along the way. Starting near the summits of these mountains awards you with special views and feelings of being a badass trail runner.


  • Even though the race is held in November, and the location has a relatively dry desert feel, race day temperatures can rise significantly and result in all kinds of problems, especially if you’re not good in the heat. California can get warm no matter the time of year- race day temperatures reached 80 degrees in Azusa (the finish line). Recommendation: hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Can’t drink enough water and electrolytes before, during, and after the race.

Photo cred: @azusapdIMG_4550

  • Overall, this felt more like a local race than an overwhelmingly large, corporate race. The organization and direction was top-notch, from the bus transportation to the start, a starting line with plenty of goods and porta potties, and more than enough water stations along the course. I met some interesting people at the start and on the bus, mostly local to the area and mostly just running the race for fun.

Would I run this race again? Unless I am able to adequately train on miles of downhill roads (uncommon in the Boston area), I am not certain I would run this race again. There are many other races out there that area more BQ-friendly for my quads and soul. But thanks Canyon City, for running a scenic, challenging, lovely race that I could add to my list of accomplishments.

Couple of shots from Joshua Tree National park which we visited the following day (definitely recommend checking out if you can!)


What are you running this weekend?

Anyone run a downhill race? What are your thoughts?

Where did you PR? 

Enjoy the rest of your weekend! xo Jane



  1. All I thought while reading this was “OUCH, quad crushing!” That being said, I do need to keep practicing downhills, I tend to want to avoid them cause they especially kill my knees, but I know I should start working them in. Been reading up on proper technique for them, this was a good reminder also, thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I ran Canyon City last year and completely agree with your review. Great organisation and beautiful scenery. I did a fast first half then suffered, but got a PB, 4:12.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sounds like a beautiful and tough race. Knowing it is “fast” would make me feel like I’m moving too slowly and probably overexert myself.

    Sounds like you had a solid race despite “thoughts”. Have you read Running with the Mind of Meditation? If not consider it. It’s pretty damn useful.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Hi-jacking this thread belatedly, but was curious about the book. I’m preparing for a mega running challenge, much of it which will be run on my own (potentially up to a marathon a day alone) and am looking for mind over matter brain training inspiration…


          1. Josh should comment more about this, but another book I recommend is “Brain Training for Runners” by Matt Fitzgerald. It’s a great read where readers can “learn to maximize their performance by supplying the brain with the right feedback”. Also, a marathon a day? Wow! Good luck!


            1. I’ll have a look at both – thank you! I’m running about 180 miles in six days, across fells etc, and then doing a half marathon (the Great North Run is the world’s largest half) on day seven. Complete madness having never even attempted a marathon before! But, hence the brain encouragement required :-) Thanks

              Liked by 1 person

          2. Sounds like you’ve put a lot on your plate. Not that any of us have ever done that….

            As for the book yes I highly recommend it. It does a fantastic job of connecting our mental state with our physical action (running) while keeping them distinct. It also builds on the practice of meditation in and out of running and gives a few different aspects of mindfulness to use at any given time.

            Liked by 2 people

  4. That’s an interesting elevation profile. Boston might not be overly hilly, but it is a downhill course where runners typically run strong positive splits. So Canyon City might not be bad prep.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d say that Boston is significantly less hilly/downhill than this race. But I do agree that if you can master Canyon city marathon, you’re on your way to a solid Boston race. Thanks for stopping by!


  5. Wow – I’ve never come across a race like this – I suspect that living in the tiny UK, it would be really hard to find 13 downhill miles. Sounds very difficult so well done for achieving it!

    Liked by 1 person

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