Running in the Mile High City can take your breath away, especially if you haven’t been in town long. Run for 26.2 miles and it’s sure to be a good day! 2018 was the second year for me to run the Colfax Marathon, which claims to be Denver’s only marathon. The race takes place in the heart of Denver with a tour of some great landmarks and a truly urban course.

denver colfax marathon start

I first ran Colfax Marathon in 2017, just a few weeks after moving to town. Safe to say I was a little winded (Strava). But it was a normal way to welcome myself to town, right?! I was training for my first 50-miler, but obviously, adding a few thousand feet in elevation knocked a little wind out of my sails. Not to mention the stresses of moving and starting a new job. Challenge accepted to do it again in 2018!

2018 Denver Colfax Marathon

This year, I was determined to go back and improve my time at the Colfax Marathon. I always need to redeem myself from a poor performance. On the heels of a PR at the Greenland Trails 50k, and my offer on a house being accepted, I was feeling pretty good.

The event begins near downtown at City Park near the Denver Zoo. For race weekend, there are events ranging from 5k, 10k, a half marathon, marathon, and a marathon relay. I’d have to say as a marathoner, the relay is probably the most annoying part. You have fresh runners, running much shorter distances, leapfrogging you the entire route.

2018 Colfax Marathon Finish Medal

The marathon is named after Denver’s infamous Colfax Avenue, which was the main road through town prior to the development of Interstate Highways. It has been referred to as “the longest, wickedest street in America,” by Playboy. Yep… There are stretches that aren’t as attractive – which are under redevelopment. Most of the events on race weekend run down some portion of Colfax Avenue.

Seeing as Colfax Avenue is actually 26 miles, I think it would be pretty neat to have a marathon run from Aurora to Golden. But I am in no hurry to become a race director.

denver colfax marathon course

Colfax Marathon Course

For a race that takes place at 5,280 feet elevation, there’s relatively little climbing on the course. Being an urban marathon, everything takes place on city streets, with a small exception being on the Cherry Creek Bike Path.

Starting in City Park, marathoners quickly exit near East High School and head West on Colfax Avenue. Past the State Capitol and Civic Center Park, you run through a fire station (cue calls for firefighters) and drop onto the bike path. For much of this section, I just try to enjoy the view. Everyone is taking off fast, and keeping a slow pace at the start pays off.

Soon after Confluence Park, runners head toward Broncos Stadium at Mile High. We actually loop around the stadium with an opportunity to run on the field. I’ve not seen anyone try to run on the turf. That might get interesting!

2018 Denver Colfax Marathon Broncos Stadium

Later Colfax Marathon Course

Marathoners then have the chance to break off the asphalt for a few minutes by running around Sloan’s Lake Park. Dodging spectators who want to walk on the narrow course and goose piles is a good distraction on this section.

After Sloan’s Lake, runners turn off for a loop around Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design and begin a short tour through some residential neighborhoods in the Lakewood area. During the race this year, we started getting a little light misting rain, which was a bit of a welcomed relief. Of course, that also meant the clouds would soon burn off and things would heat up.

After a short run through neighborhoods, the course turns back to Denver and back down Colfax. It’s this stretch that I realized I was having a really good day. And I needed a toilet in the worst way! Those things happen, but there wasn’t a porta potty in sight! I finally found one at mile 19.2.

2018 Denver Colfax Marathon Finish Photo

Colfax Marathon Finish

The Colfax finishes with another trip around the field of Broncos Stadium and on the bike path back into Denver. We loop through downtown buildings (cool!) and into residential areas on the west side of City Park. This where we meet the heart-break hill of the course and everyone starts walking. In 2017, I was one of them. This year, I actually felt pretty good.

Can we chalk it up to the steak dinner I had on Saturday night?!

2018 Denver Colfax Marathon Finish

Marathon PR

And on that final mile, I realized I was in for a PR! Not only had I just set a PR at the 50k distance two weeks earlier, but I would again this day at the marathon! It was by far the most complete marathon I’ve run to date, despite being on pavement the entire time. See it on Strava.

I ended up finishing the Colfax Marathon in 3:45:41 (a PR), placing 47th in the division, 257th overall out of 1,402 finishers. No complaints here. I certainly didn’t have high aspirations heading into the day.

And yes, I’ve already signed up to run Colfax Marathon in 2019. Will you join me?

2018 Denver Colfax Marathon Finish Line

Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust

Colfax Marathon allows us the opportunity to choose which charity our run supports. This year, I chose the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust. CCALT is a great organization working to ensure Colorado’s agricultural lands remain as such, even through times of great urban growth and development. Definitely worth checking out the CCALT site to learn more about their work.

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