Post-pandemic, I decided to say ‘farewell’ to my Ninja Warrior and obstacle course training and say ‘hello’ full-time to trail running and half/full marathon distances. It was my goal to discover unique races with beautiful views. I’ll take any excuse to venture to Big Bear, California for a weekend. So, when I saw my friend and World Record Holder, Jocelyn Rivas post about REVEL Race: Big Bear Half and Full Marathon, I clicked and kept reading.
Downhill is the keyword in the REVEL Race Series. Their mission and description is two words: Fast & Beautiful.
Brooksee is the parent company of REVEL. Responsible for producing the Portland and Mesa Marathon, I spoke with Brooksee’s Brand Director Chris Braun shortly after they celebrated their 10th REVEL anniversary for their Big Cottonwood race in Salt Lake City, Utah.
“Right now we have four current Revel Races: Revel Big Bear, Revel Mt. Charleston which is in Las Vegas, Revel Rockies in Denver and Revel Cottonwood in Salt Lake City,” Chris told LATF.
“Cottonwood is the steepest downhill grade from start to finish for the marathon,” he added. Runners travel near and far to run REVEL in hopes of qualifying for the coveted Boston Marathon.
“Our Boston qualifier rates are staggering compared to other race rates that you would find at your standard city marathons. I think for Revel Big Bear, our Boston qualifier rates have been somewhere between 20-25%,” Chris said.
The REVEL race production team consists of Anna Ryan, Cydney Lundahl and Kamas Anderson. Although many race companies came to an end during COVID times, REVEL found a way to survive. Chris explained that it was a challenge, as it was for every other race company.
“For about a year and a half, our standard full capacity races were canceled. We were actually able to put together some smaller multi-day events where we were able to have a smaller pool of runners that we would release in waves. We called it our Limited Edition Series. We held about four to five of these events with a cap of about 500 runners per day. It was enough to help keep us going through the pandemic,” he added.
Running REVEL Big Bear is a thrill, and a chill (it’s cold up there). But, once you get going it’s a fast warm-up. Runners are shuttled from a base location in San Bernardino to the Half or Full Marathon start lines. In October 2022, 3,300+ runners showed up for that downhill high.
“When you’re running the full, it’s a forest wonderland. You’re at nearly 7,000 feet up there. It looks like a completely different world and then by the time you get halfway through the course the scenery completely changes. You’ve got desert rocks and a little more of that California desert scenery. It’s very diverse,” Chris said.
But just because it says ‘downhill,’ doesn’t mean it’s easy. There is specific training for downhill running.
Chris explained that there’s a technique to running down hill that most running coaches will advise.
“Lean back slightly and don’t catch yourself too much with your quads,” he added.
Every runner should experience a REVEL race in their lifetime. You’ll learn a lot about yourself and your technique as a runner after completing 13.1 to 26.2 miles downhill. Once you cross the finish line, you’re greeted by delicious complimentary donuts (and of course water & bananas).
Proceeds from each REVEL runner’s entry fee are donated to local nonprofit groups geared towards health and environmental causes. If you’re traveling for the weekend to a REVEL race, be sure to attend their EXPO the day before. Great swag and more!
Come for the views, stay for the downhill!
Find a REVEL Race near you: https://www.runrevel.com