This was easily the most challenging road marathon I have ever run. Nowhere near as challenging as Tecumseh Trail Marathon or Lovin’ The Hills 50k, but several significant hills. Before I get into the details of the race, keep in mind the entry fee was only $25. There were just over 200 runners entered. My brother dropped me off at the start area at 5:30 for the 6:00am start. I did about a 10 minute warm-up run then stretched a little. The sun wasn’t up yet but it was light enough to see the road, still they gave us a blinking light to wear. None of the roads were closed to traffic during the run so you had to pay attention to the passing cars. Lots of runners, myself included, had friends or family driving ahead on the course to stop and cheer for us. I started out at a pretty good pace, around 8:40/mile for the first two miles. Then I got a little carried away and got a lot closer to 8:00/mile. In the first half I even had a couple miles that were under 8 minutes.
The 13th mile was all up, the steepest hill on the course, around 200 ft elevation gain. Assuming the miles were marked correctly I completed that mile in 9:10. Not sure why I didn’t walk up that hill. From there to mile 23 there were perhaps three significant hills and I ran up all but part of one. During this section I was still cranking out 9 minute miles even though it didn’t feel like I was running that pace, I felt like I was struggling and slowing, but was surprised at each mile by the time. By mile 23 I was starting to fade, but was determined to come in under 4 hours so I didn’t walk, until… mile 24 was a huge up hill so I did walk some of it but was not ready to give up on the sub 4 hour finish. Finally at the top of the hill I had 2.2 miles to go with 28 minutes to do it and no more big hills, mostly downhill in fact. At this point I ran as much as I could, did I say run? Ok I shuffled along as much as I could but I did have to walk, but I knew I could do that and still beat 4 hours. Finally made it to the last turn onto the road where the finish was. I was shuffling along the sidewalk. With about a quarter mile to go a guy told me I needed to finish on the road. I moved into the road and could see the big blue finish arch. Then my left hamstring started cramping, but I made it to the finish line. I was beat. They had two large pools of ice water. After a few minutes I went in up to my knees. That felt great on some very sore feet and knees. After getting out of the pool I went over to my sister’s house to take a shower. My brother and I then went to Shakespeare’s Pizza for the after race feast. Free pizza for me and my family was included in the cost of the race. Ray and I probably ate $10 worth of pizza. We then headed back to Ray’s house for some recovery time including some ice cold Schlafly Hefeweizen.
Overall this race was done very well. The race t-shirt is excellent, chip timing, free pizza afterward and only $25 entry fee. I can’t complain at all.
Here is the interactive map with elevation profile.