My Profile


Houston, TX Raving since 2017 50 States hopeful/finisher, IRONMAN Active 5 years, 6 months ago

About Me

  • Running club(s):
  • Rave race:

    Madagascar Marathon

  • Race that's calling my name:

    Something in South America…

  • I run because:

My Races

Organize, track & review your races and personal bests here.

50 States Map

Half Marathon



(Marathon or Ultra) + Half

Marathon + Ultra


Future Races

Personal Bests (1)

Race Distance Location Date Result
Marathon Bagan, Myanmar Nov 28, 2015 4:40:00

Future Races (0)

Race Distance Location Date Paid

Past Races (2)

Race Distance Location Date Result My Raves My Performance
Marathon Ranohira, Madagascar Jun 18, 2017 6:15:00
Marathon Bagan, Myanmar Nov 28, 2015 4:40:00

My Raves

This race is put on by Marathon Tours as part of their Madagascar tour package. I ran this race in 2017, the inaugural year. The trip itself is amazing, but … MORE

This race is put on by Marathon Tours as part of their Madagascar tour package. I ran this race in 2017, the inaugural year. The trip itself is amazing, but I will try to focus on the race for the purposes of this review.

There were about 80 runners in this event–roughly half for the half marathon and half for the full marathon, plus a handful of sponsored local runners. Participants were split up between two nearby resorts a short walk apart from each other. The pre-race dinner was pleasant and welcome.

On race morning, we met at the start line, which was at the other resort. Marathon race started at 7am. Personally, i would have preferred a 6am start. Sunrise was right around 6:30 and 6am would have been fine–that’s how we did it in Myanmar. I knew it was going to get hot during the day,. Nonetheless, 7am wasn’t a problem.

Just before the race started, all the half marathoners were packed into a few buses and taken to the half marathon start, which was about 2.5 miles into the marathon course. The half marathoners left and we had a few minutes to settle down before the 7am race start. 7am came and off we went.


Isalo is a high desert. The elevation was about half a mile and the course is generally flat. Morning temperatures were comfortably cool. I ran in a running singlet with arm sleeves. I would have been ok without them, but I wanted the sun protection later on. Definitely put on the sunscreen! The majority of the course is on sand. Sometimes the sand is packed, but much of it is loose sand. You’re going to feel it when you run. This is not an easy course. There are some small sections–maybe two miles combined–of paved roads, but for the most part, it’s a trail race and much of it is on loose sand.

The scenery is beautiful, especially on a clear day. Isalo is a wide-open arid grassland punctuated with massive rock outcroppings. While the sun was low, we ran a lot through the shadows of the big rocks and the shade was appreciated. Once the sun rose above them, the course was extremely exposed. Trees are sparse and runners will be running out in the open.

There were a handful of water crossings in this race. All of them happened in the second half and they ended up being a blessing in disguise. As long as you didn’t skirt the muddy perimeter, the crossings were sandy and not boggy at all. The water was cool and ranged from ankle to knee-deep. I feared they would cause problems later in the race, but there ended up being nothing but upside to them as the cool water refreshed my tired legs.

The course also runs through three villages. I’m pretty sure the locals didn’t know what to think of us, but the kids thought the spectacle was great. Reactions went from bemusement to enthusiastic support as we traveled through the villages on our way.

-Water / Nutrition-

The race director makes it very clear from the beginning that due to the nature of water and the environment, runners will be responsible for their own primary hydration. There will be a handful of staffed water stops along the way (ours also had Coke, but that’s not for me), but you should not expect to be able to complete this race comfortably relying solely on aid station water. I ran the race with a 2L hydration pack and a 20oz bottle of water. Even so, I ran dangerously low by the end of the race despite hitting each of the water stops hard. Bring salt tablets. Bring electrolyte drink. Bring water. That being said, you won’t be left to die in the desert. Race staff on ATVs constantly passed me in both directions asking runners were ok. I never felt like I was in any danger of anything other than a long day.

-My Race-

I’m normally a 4-hour to 4:15 marathon runner. Admittedly, I did not train properly for this one, so I knew it would be slower. Exacerbating this, I came down with a stomach bug about 24 hours before the race started. Fortunately, the doctors with our group had just what I needed and my stomach gave me no issues during the race. However, I did not have much appetite the day before and I went into the race in a serious calorie deficit. All of that, combined with a hot sunny day, meant I ended up running out of gas and walking the last seven miles to the finish line. This was the slowest marathon I have ever run in my life.

And I still loved it! If you want to challenge yourself in a beautiful and exotic land with a race that is tricky challenging, but well-run, this may be the race for you. And the rest of the trip is just the icing on the cake.

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Mingalaba and welcome to my review of the Bagan Temple Marathon. First off, this race is incredible. The location is beautiful, exotic, tourist-friendly, and the people seem genuinely happy to … MORE

Mingalaba and welcome to my review of the Bagan Temple Marathon.

First off, this race is incredible. The location is beautiful, exotic, tourist-friendly, and the people seem genuinely happy to see the runners out on the course. I absolutely recommend this race for the runner looking for adventure and something your fellow runners back home will want to hear about.

Now let’s get down to the nuts and bolts. This is not an easy race. I rate the difficulty at 4 out of 5 because I’ve had worse, but it was tough. The good news is that the course is pretty flat. I really don’t remember any hills worth noting. Now the tough stuff. Bagan is a warm place, even in December. This isn’t the tropical jungle you might expect out of Thailand or Cambodia, but it’s a warm dry race. I live and train in Houston, TX and I didn’t find it all that tough, but people from cooler climates may struggle a little on account of that.

When i ran the race in 2015, the course was mostly paved roads, but I would say there was somewhere between 5-10 miles of sand you had to run through. That made things very tough, so be ready for that. The sand is not all at once and rarely is it more than a mile at a time, but you will be running on and off through sand pretty much the whole race. Because of this, my overall time was about one minute per mile slower on average than I expected.

The scenery is incredible. You run through the temples of Bagan at sunrise. Dozens of hot air balloons will be in the sky in the morning and it’s a lot of fun. I don’t remember how frequently the water stops were, but i do remember they were always reasonably spaced. I ran this race with a hydration vest because that’s how I do hot races. Many people did not bring supplemental hydration and that was fine too. The staff takes medical care very seriously and even though i had no medical issues, it was very comforting to know that English-speaking medic crews on mountain bikes were never far away. At one checkpoint, they made each runner verbally acknowledge that we were good to go. I liked that.

You will run through several villages and it seems like every little kid in the village is there to wave at you and high-five you as you go by. I do remember that toilets could be a bit tricky to come by, but there are lots of bushes and places to step behind a tree. Obviously, don’t pee on a temple! If you are prone to stomach distress, then I definitely suggest you have a little bit of paper on you just in case.

Overall, it’s a well-run race. The swag is nice. The pre-race pasta dinner was top notch. The post-race chillout area was pretty good, but I was in kind of rough shape so I didn’t take advantage of too many amenities. Later that evening, we had a massive dinner and awards ceremony on a large sandbar in the river complete with a boat ride out to it. There was live music. There were fireworks. There was beer 🙂 The food was awesome. It was a pretty great way to cap off a good race day.

Oh, one last thing, and this is just a piece of personal advice. I highly recommend you schedule a post-race massage with your hotel. The Myanmar style of massage is a bit vigorous, but certainly not violent. I hobbled in and came out feeling like a new man.


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