I knew that there was going to be a substantially less number of people especially compared to Mississauga Marathon (around 11,000) and the two Toronto Marathons (around 25,000 for each), but I was not expecting 80 people in total for the full marathon!
That threw me off.
Anyway, the lead up to the race day was just gorgeous. 18 C on Saturday a day before the race and things were looking great. I was psyched and was eager. Got my race kit. The pick up should have given me a heads up on the number of participants. It was a small room with one table. However, I did not pick up on the clues.
On race day, got up early. Had some breakfast. Put on rocking music on the way to Bechtel Park. Parking was a breeze and organisers were cheering everyone. Mood was quite good. That’s when I noticed a lack of marathon runners (based on the reddish bibs the full run were wearing). And when the pipes started playing (yup, bagpipes), I went towards the starting line, that’s when it hit me. There were very few runners for the full. Why this bothered me was that I like the anonymity of a large group of runners. I knew this race would be tough because I am a back pack runner. But because I would be mortified coming in last or among last group, I knew I had to push myself.
Before the run there was a minute silence for Boston. But because they were using a bullhorn, not everyone got the message so there was a lot of chattering all about. The Ed Whitlock spoke for a minute and again no one had a clue what he said. Which was a shame cause I am a great admirer and I hope to be half the runner in the next few years that he is now.
Anyway, the run started and I threw my game book out the window cause everyone literally started to sprint away. I had to kick it up a notch too which is something I hate early in the run.
The course is a rolling course. That is, there are gentle ups and gentle downs from the start to finish. And because this was Mennonite country, there were horse drawn buggies and huge farm lands throughout the run.
The few runners means that for majority of my run, I had no one in my sights and I mean literally no one in sight. Not one person behind or in front. It was erie and quite disconcerting and caused me to question whether I was on the right course. The only action I saw were the volunteers every 3 KMs. They were the soul of the run! The volunteers were fantastic and the organisation of the run was very good. Water, gatorade, gels, fruits etc were available throughout the course.
Finally reached the point where we merged with the half marathon course. The half marathoners were all done by the time I reached that part of the course but this was through a suburb starting with the Blackberry offices. The complaint I have here is that since there were few runners and I was running at the back of the pack, I actually had to stop for red lights! Never saw that before in a marathon.
I rolled in at 4:14:07 to great cheering (since I was the only one approaching the end at that point) and the moment I stopped, my left leg cramped and I had to seek medical help. The para meds helped me through the cramp, got me some gatorade and I was walking back to the car in 20 minutes.
I really really liked the course. I just wish I could have run at my own pace. I am now better prepared, mentally, for the next time I run this race. I just hope that the participation increases.