Hamilton Marathon Road2Hope
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Start Date/Time November 5, 2017 @ 9:30 am
End Date/Time N/A
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I did the "Run the Hammer" Challenge. This challenge was to run the 5k, 10k and Half Marathon. The 5k race was fine. The 10k was fine, but they ran out of medals. What? How can you run out of metals for people that registered far in advance? Seems the race was oversold, so some people didn't get metals. How is this fair? Race day entry should mean that you have to wait for a metal. Why punish the slower runners? The half marathon was fine, but there were some fairly major intersections left without volunteers....and one where the volunteer sat in their car and made runners fend the traffic on their own. Granted- it was raining- but does that not mean the runners needed an advocate even more??? The final medal for the Hammer challenge was very disappointing. A special "hammer" metal turned out to be a small, non-excting metal. They could have done something very epic with this, instead, it is ordinary and I don't feel a reflection of the energy, determination, and perseverance of what it takes to run three races in two days. Will I return? Probably not.
Expo - personally didn't mind the expo being in one of those large tents. Kit pick-up went without a hitch, a few vendors were present. All good
Race Shirt - I'll reserve comment on that one
Pre-Race - plenty of buses to shuttle you to the start. No hassles. Good that we got to wait in a gymnasium until the race started.
Course - extremely fast. Lots of straight-aways, couple of uphills within the first half. Running on the freeway was interesting. Liked the fact that you could ease up a bit and still keep a good pace. However, it was extremely wet race day, and I found that you could not get much grip on the asphalt. Mainly ran on the side of the road where it was concrete, but better grip. Last 10 km on the lakeshore was good.
Volunteers - awesome, awesome, awesome.
Finish area - never appreciated soup so much in my life. Lots of food at the finish area.
The reputation that this is an excellent Boston qualifier was well justified. Qualified for my first Boston this race. So thrilled.
Overall - would definitely recommend this race for those that want a fast race, good scenery and the chance to hit a Boston qualifier. Volunteers definitely made this race great. Not a lot of crowd support for most of the race, but that was cool. Will likely do it again next year.
Awesome race !
This was my first full marathon - great route for it.
The KM's were coming fast in the beginning with some rolling hills. The 1/2 mark takes you onto the highway, this was windy, but major downhill.
The last 10 k, was a little boring - but great finish line excitement.
Would run again.
Weather was superb this year.
Aid stations were well stocked. Would have been nice for another gel station, only one at 28 k
A excellent well run race,venue,water and volunteers-Please-less carbs are required at the end of the race IE:Apples,Banana's-more protein.
The best race ever very kind people and a ton of fun
Ran the half marathon. Luckily I had my GPS watch on because the kilometers markers were off by 1 kilometer until 17K where it finally corrected itself. For example- my watch said 13K & the marker said 12K. I confirmed my watch was correct with runners around me but it still left a niggling of doubt in your mind. Very strange that no one caught this before the race started.
Husband & I both found our watches said the course was 300m long. Liked the jackets they gave out at the finish.
This was my 76th full marathon! Toronto runners are lucky to have so many fall marathons within driving distance. PEC, London, Toronto, Niagara Falls and Hamilton. That doesn<t include the new marathon in September on Leslie Street. Hamilton is a gem. Quick and easy race kit pick up, free parking on the day of the race and nice 7 km decline after the 21 k point of the race. The problem? Water stations that ran out of water after 31 km (I cramped up soon after) and the use of Honey Max instead of Gatorade or a more popular drink. some of the mile markings were off and I would like to see more water stations (every 2 k like PEC). More power gel stations as well would be nice.
Fierce First Race Runner
While this may have been my first long distance race, I have been to many events and found this one to be very well organized. Many Volunteers make this event run amazingly smooth - shout out to them!! The variety of terrain keeps the run interesting and the wide route provides lots of room to move up....or be passed!
A couple of quick points about this race:
-on-line registration was simple and easy to do.I liked the monthly, then closer to the race more frequent event info. emails.
-the race kit bags had very little in them besides a couple of samples and adverts; a bit of a disappointment.
-really liked that they gave out a long-sleeved shirt; found that to be a nice change from most races. And I did take advantage of that finish line service where they imprint your finishing time on your shirt; a really nice touch.
The volunteers were very helpful and seemed to know what they were doing (which isn't always the case) and the water stations were well stocked and no waiting which was great.
The finish line ‘jacket’ is SO much better than the foil blankets you normally get at races. I hope this catches on at other events. Such great idea!
Overall, this event met or exceeded my expectations.
If you're looking for a fast marathon course and don't care too much about bells and whistles, than this race is for you.
Although, the course is mostly flat, it is not boring. The course starts at the top of the Niagara escarpment, providing a beautiful view of Hamilton and Lake Ontario below. The course also includes about a KM of soft trail late in the marathon which was a welcome break for my tired legs. Also, the last few KMs are along Lake Ontario which was a welcome distraction.
The race kits are not fancy and I wasn't impressed with the post race food. However, the participant medal was nice and expo had lots of friendly volunteers to help you with any questions.
First marathon ever. Second race ever entered (2014 around the bay back in March). A coworker suggested that I had trained for the ATB I should continue and run a marathon. I set three goals: Finsh (I did), Run the entire distance (I did) and do it under 4 hours (a little too optimistic for the first). First half was under 1:50, start the down hill is when my left leg thigh went into spasm. I trained for the downhill but not after running a half marathon, that is my warning. Over the next 8-9 Km's spent 30 minutes stretching it. All I can think after that is that this was an awesome experience. For a first timer everyone was great, from someone showing me how to drink from a cup on the run to the talking pace bunnies who give adivice on the go and people who see you stretching and slow down to make sure you are okay. I am sad that at the end I missed the warm up jacket, but I almost missed the medal as well until someone grabbed my arm and said don't you want your medal you made it. I train down by the lake and finishing down there was like going into cruise control after the loss of time on the hill it was a nice way to finish.
This was my 1st R2H and my 5th marathon, although I ran the 10k here last year. My goal was to BQ, which I happily did.
I registered early online - simple and easy to do. The course is well laid out and, although the North wind this year negated a part of the downhill advantage, those 5k come at the mid-way point and are a treat (if you train for it). I do NOT like that short, steep drop on the dirt path after you exit the Expressway. I'm glad I had checked it out in advance and so was expecting it. But ouch!
There is a fair bit of congestion along the lake shore as you catch up with the walkers and the half-marathoners. Wouldn't be so bad if they didn't run/walk 2 or 3 abreast, but worse were the non-participants - cyclists and pedestrians using the trail. Too bad it wasn't closed to them.
Agree with the other comments re: the cheesy shirt and medal, but it didn't matter much to me - my goal was Boston, not bling or clothing. And I did take advantage of that finish line service where they imprint your finishing time on your shirt. A nice touch.
The volunteers were as good or better than at any other race I've been at. No issues at all with the aid stations. At the finish line, my legs briefly gave out. A volunteer caught me as I was falling and helped me to the food tent and sat me down and got my food for me. Excellent. I couldn't put much into my belly at that point, but other volunteers brought me 2 bowls of hot soup which I could manage. The hot soup I have never seen at a finish and it was a nice touch. No complaints with the food (pizza too, which I couldn't eat). That tent is heated nicely, and the family meet area is directly adjacent to it.
The finish line 'jacket' is SO much better than the foil blankets you normally get at races. I hope this catches on at other events. A great idea!
Although I was initially annoyed at having to go through so many photos to find my own, I now appreciate this service. I am long past the point of buying race photos - so the four free ones I found of myself were a bonus and my family and friends appreciate having them sent to them.
As far as pacers go, I had none running my pace and was disappointed by that - would have helped keep me on track. Fortunately, my GPS was able to do that for me.
Oh, tangents! SO many runners didn't run the tangents. You could even see that in the photos taken on the expressway. Some must have run significantly longer than 42.2 km. I was pleased to see that my GPS showed me having run only 100 meters further than the measured distance. That's actually quite good - but it did require a very conscious effort to run those tangents.
Overall, this event met or exceeded my expectations. If you know you are running a smaller event with limited spectator support along the route, and your goal is simply a PR or BQ, then you will have a good crack at it here. As advertised. But don't take it for granted. Train for the downhill and run the tangents.
Half Marathoner for Toronto
Loved the course (e.g. small trail section). It's prettier and more interesting than the Toronto Waterfront Marathon.
Good organization throughout.
(No waiting at race pick up, at bus transportation to start, at bag pick up and drop off. Good course marshalling)
Liked the fact that the money goes to charity.
The race tshirts and medal were ugly though.
I would be embarrassed to wear the shirt in public since it's such a walking ad.
This was my 2nd year running the Road2Hope half marathon and I had a great time!!! I loved the course and it was a well organized race. My only complaint was the ugly race t-shirts. I will be racing again next year!
My 62nd marathon!
Congrats to Dr. Raymond on his 315th marathon! Jamie on his 162! Thomas on his 201st! Amanda on her 2nd.
This is a great race. A good course, easy course pick up that has free parking and close to the highways. The water stations are pretty well stocked. The only complaints was the lack of emergency contact information on the back of the bib and half marathon starting to close to the full. If they space apart maybe we can smaller line ups for the washrooms.
This was my 1st R2H. I chose to run this marathon because of its reputation as the quickest BQ. I achieved my goal qualifying for Boston. However, I personally found no advantage of the downhill. It was actually the opposite as it slowed me down. Disappointed that there was no split time at the 1/2 way mark or other intervals. Considering the training, & efforts required for a marathon the organizers should invest in a better medal and shirt - they both seem to be lacking. Disappointing that you need to scroll through hundreds of pictures to find your own. The volunteers were enthusiastic and should be commended. Some great views of the town near the beginning and sufficient water stations along the route.
Overall a quick race for a BQ. An event for a great cause!
This is a well organized race, but there are some problems with course congestion around the 14k mark on the waterfront trail. The shirts are also hideous, which may be minor, but now I have another ugly race shirt that I will never wear again. Pacers were easy to find and mine was accurate. Post race food was plentiful and good.
Not great, the route was ok… but the shirts, medals and food was awful. I would not run this again or recommend it to anyone. So low budget for the entry fee
This was my second marathon. I thought the course was great. I found the first half to be scenic and flat, and I always had lots of company at my 3:50 pace. The downhill along the expressway is fun and fast, however it was really windy with the headwind off the lake. You also have to stick to the tangents or else you could add a lot of distance to your run! The last 10k is pretty challenging given the short rolling hills through the park, and then the fact that you basically have to run past the finish line. However by this point there are more spectators around and you get to see the speedier runners on their way in. All in all very enjoyable.
Overall, I found all the logistics to be professional and well-executed. Nice to have a building to wait in before the race. The water stations and course marshals were great. Lots of decent food at the end to refuel. Volunteers had lots of enthusiasm which made for a fun race. It is definitely a fast field, but I also found it to be friendly as I chatted with quite a few other runners along the way. Nice medal and attentive volunteers at the end. I would recommend this race to others looking for a late-fall event (be prepared for a potentially windy and cold day).
My only complaint is that I arrived early on race morning to get my kit and was disappointed that I did not get a shirt in my size, even though I had registered well in advance. Only men’s large and extra large were left. I don’t think that is fair when you are paying upwards of $80 for a race. If you can’t guarantee shirt sizes, make the race registration $50 and sell shirts at the expo for those that want a souvenir. But that is an issue that hopefully will be worked out in future years and did not taint my overall positive experience at the race.
I thought this was a great smaller marathon. The course is quick and the entire event is well organized. There were no hiccups with the buses to the start and bag check went smoothly on both ends. One of the most important things to me when I race is to have a good crop of runners at my speed that I can work with and I certainly wasn't disappointed. I had a great bunch of guys to work with for most of the run. The finish line staff were friendly and helpful and I thought the thermal suits were a great idea. I would be happy to recommend this one.
Awesome! For me, the race lived up to it's BQ cred. It was coolish and bit windy, but I love the course. Some complain about the undulating trial, but I found the variation great!
Volunteers - Awesome
Pre-race wait - Awesome
Post-run - Not a fan of the pizza, but I found plenty to fill me up.
I'm headed to Boston because of this race!
This was my second half marathon. I have to say it was one of the most enjoyable running experiences in my short time as a runner! I kept with the 1:40 pacer and wish I had gotten his name...he was excellent. Lots of great stories that had us laughing more than once. The race went by really fast because of all the stories! I finished with a new PR and will be back to run the full marathon next year!
This was my first marathon, and it was actually a comeback after I bailed on my goal race (Scotia) two weeks previous. Really glad it was still possible to get in! It was a great first marathon experience in a lot of ways:
- fairly easy, scenic course
- kind and helpful volunteers (I had one lovely helper who Sherpa'd me around to the baggage tent and then the massage tent after I staggered away from the finish line)
- lots of aid stations, so you weren't screwed if you missed on
- nifty choice to give disposable jackets instead of Mylar blankets at the end of the race. Comfy, keeps the hands free, and you can use it as your throwaway gear for the start of your next cold race.
- a nice medal - whatever complaints there may have been about previous years' medals seem to have been resolved.
Portapotty lineups happen, no matter how many there are. They've been a fact at every race I've been at, and they were a fact here. It's really important at a bigger race to budget more time than you think you need for bag check and bathroom, so you don't run the risk of starting late (or needing to peel off into the bushes during the first 10k, as I saw a few runners do).
I would have liked to see a timing mat at the half marathon mark. It seems as though the only mats were at start, finish, and the turnaround near 35-36. It's nice to be able to track our splits.
The cold weather did a number on me - I don't normally train outdoors when it gets much below 5C, and since it was below freezing for this marathon it affected my performance a little and I was coughing for the rest of the day after I finished (still with a great time, under my B goal). As such, if I do another marathon, I may choose to run one in the spring, or earlier in the fall, or further south. But if you don't mind running in what could be some pretty chilly weather, this is a great place to set a PR, and the organizers and volunteers will make you feel welcome while you're doing it.
This was my first year running this particular race. I can say that the race was very professional and well organized. In the morning I was dropped off at the finish line and was able to immediately board a bus to the start. There were plenty of buses, no issue here. The first half of the race is run through a rural area. You literally run through corn fields and vineyards. At best, there would be minimal spectators. Given that the temperature was hovering around freezing (with a strong wind), the crowd was virtually non-existent. The run down the Red Hill should be the fastest part of the course. However, with a brutal North wind in your face, this really taxed you for the final 15K. I cannot say enough about the volunteers. They were friendly and enthusiastic. You could tell that they had been well trained in how to dispense liquids. There were a couple spots where a marshal would have helped to clarify the route. My impression is that this is a race for those trying to BQ. Essentially this is very much a race for 'elites'. I felt somewhat intimidated and out of place. Running near the back of the pack in a small race, i have to say that this was the loneliest race I have ever run. There were times when I did not see another runner for 10 - 15 minutes - in front or behind me. Having no one to pace with, and no crowd cheering you on makes this is difficult race for those that are not competitive. Also, the out and back section in the last 10K can be very discouraging as you share the waterfront path with many more runners going the other way as they approach the finish (an hour ahead of you). I did record a PB by over 5 minutes so I would agree that this is a fast course. In more favourable conditions and with some encouragement, I likely could have chopped off another 10 - 15 minutes. All said, this is a well-run race. If you are a 3:30 - 4:00 marathoner looking for a fast time, this course favours you. As wonderfully as I was treated, this probably was not the best choice for me. I likely won't enter the full marathon here again. But these are solely my issues, not anything to do with the race itself. Thank you again to all the volunteers. Not only were they fantastic, they also had to double as spectators...
This was my first half marathon and was a great experience, very well run by the coordinators! Everything from kit pickup to finishing, what an experience!!! I will do it again next year!!
First half of the course
Organization - buses, arena (nice and warm)
Volunteers - some of the best and friendliest
Second half of the course
Gravel path with major undulations
Narrow trail that joins the tail-end of the half-marathoners plus the general public. Weaving in and out to get people out of the way was pretty bad and it is unbelievable how many folks refuse to move aside or choose to take up the width of a narrow trail
Great race! It was a nice course, and very fast. A few too many hills at the end, but the downward grade for 21-28k was sweet.
was my first and very happy with my achievements...although some changes shall be made
1. for those that register right from the beginning I found it unfair that when we show up to get our shirts on sat. afternoon, we had to take a mens cuz all the ladies mediums were gone. (the kicker is the last minute registered runners got what they wanted if they showed up sat morning)...NOT RIGHT
2. I believe i finished a respectable marathon 4:24:09, there was still lots of runners behind me (not everyone is an elite), by the time I got to the food all the cookies and bananas were gone, really only pizza and soup, not even a lousy banana. NOT RIGHT
I don't like complaining and taking away from the great volunteers that help out throughout the day, however races are getting more expensive and sometimes it comes down to the races that you get more for your money...but the shirts are great and it was a true dissapointment when you cannot even get the one that was suppose to come with your registration (which was many months ago)
Half Marathon course which was excellent was chopped up and murdered. Marathon course is incredibly boring and uncreative. With so many great places to run there is a series of aimless loops and out and backs that are not worth coming out for. Organizers are resting on promotion of the scenic 4km downhill on the expressway which is very cool but the rest of the course is poor at best.
Shirts this year were pretty decent, color choice nice touch but still ugly as sin which is becoming the norm nowadays however swag was totally absent, for $100 I expect more.
Sadly like most races price goes up, up, up and services and event quality goes down,down,down.
I've run this event from its infancy back into its own demise. Wont be back.
I ran the 2012 Half Marathon (as did my son and husband). We all enjoyed the new route (Yeah! No trains!!!) and we all got personal bests, due to the downhill stretch along the Redhill Valley Parkway. (I would not, however, want to be running the full marathon and have to pass the half marathoners along this narrow stretch.) There didn't seem to be enough porto-potties, but that could be due to the inclusion of more runners coming from the cancelled New York City Marathon. Many runners were forced to use the woods behind the high school. Bundle up for the expo, as it is always in tents outside. Overall, this half marathon was a fantastic experience for the three of us!
This was my first year running the Road 2 Hope half marathon. I absolutely loved the course - downhill and fast! Of course, I didn't have to do the extra loop near the end that the marathoners had to deal with. The race did start a bit late due to issues getting the buses to the start line. Course support was great - plenty of aid stations and I loved the drummers on the Red Hill Parkway. The trail was a bit narrow to have both the half and full going through together but I suppose this is a better option than being stuck by a train for 10 minutes. The medals were great this year. Food was just okay. I'll definitely be back again.
This was my first time running the Hamilton Marathon and what a beautiful route and a great race! Got started a few minutes late which was no big deal as there was warm indoor facilities at the start. Plenty of water stations! The last 7 km along the lake was spectacular - gorgeous views! Will definitely do this one again next year.
My first time running the Hamilton Marathon
I never attended the expo so can't comment on that. The start was reasonably well organized albeit there were issues getting people to the start line via the buses but the start was delayed a few minutes to accommodate that - which was fine.
The course is what will I say - interesting! While having such a dramatic 4 to 5K portion of the course probably helps everybody's time it really beats up your legs - I have never had such sore legs after a marathon.
There were also parts of the course where it got narrow and with marathoners meeting half marathoners this became a really big issue. Not easy to resolve but maybe a few more marshals reminding the slower runners and walkers to move to the right and even a mention on the website. In most cases runners were good when they heard us shout 'on the left' but occasionally it had no effect - those wearing earphones and those who simply would not move!
And finally the '2 loops' at the 28K mark. Now I can only assume that it was not possible to come up with a route that didn't have these loops because it really was not much fun. Being at the 28K mark and then passing a 33K sign is not good mentally. It also meant we had to run and weave through slower marathon runners during the 2nd loop. It also requires the marshals to be really on their game when it comes to directing people where to go (I know of one runner who went off course here and would be surprised if others didn't as well). When I had completed my second loop there was a helper in my path because they were still expecting most to be on their first loop.
Water stations were good but at some water and eload was mixed as opposed to water at the start of the station and eload at the back. Also the amount of water in the water cups was a bit small but I am nitpicking here.
The finish area was well setup and good announcing of people as they came in, great massage tent, good food and plenty space for everybody to meet fellow runners and friends and family.
So aside from the not ideal course it was a well organized race.
Great race if you were running the half marathon! It's definitely a fast, downhill course. The finish line was a nice straightaway this year and the shirts are much nicer (long sleeved) than they have been in the past. However, if you were an elite marathoner you are probably going to be very upset with the course. They tunneled the half and full marathoners together on a fairly narrow trail. Totally frustating and unfair for the full marathoners who were shouting people out of their way. Also, I don't know if it was the added last minute additions but the traffic getting in Confederation park was terrible. Fortunately, they were kind enough to hold the buses for the late arrivals.
I have done this race two years in a row now and last year, it was my fastest half marathon I have run. I did miss the cheering crowds but I loved going downhill for such a large portion of the race. I thought having such a wide variety of colour choices for the shirts this year was a nice touch, with the option of long or short sleeves. There are plenty of water stations and it is a great course to run. The finisher medals were also much nicer this year than last year. I would highly recommend this well-organized race.
This is a great race. I ran the half marathon and I love the fast downhill pace of the course. I am going to run this race every year!
Ran this race (half-marathon) for the first time in 2010 when it was ~400m too long in order to accommodate the marathon finish. Having to run that much extra is seriously not cool.
I did it again in 2011 this time at the 1:30 pacer.
Both years were good weather wise (sunny, cool, breezy) and the course is really enjoyable (with ~5k of serious downhill) which makes it ideal for setting a PB (albeit a downhill one!). The organization is pretty good for the most part, but it seems to be willy-nilly in some regards (the train incident and the course length mix-up, but it seems to get better each year. Very expensive for what it offers, but what race isn't these days?! Other options means I won't be going back for a few years anyway.
Excellent race! Careful not to overdue it on the long down hill point, and try to stay consistent. Good luck!
The race was well organized. Great spirit amongst the fans.
Hopefully they can find a path to avoid the train tracks.
I wouls run it again.
Being from the "Hammer" I have always loved doing my hometown Marathon/1/2 Marathon race. Great scenery, warm and friendly people, and dedicated race organizers make for a fantastic fall running experience! I can't wait to find out who our featured Celebrity runner will be next year - we've had Simon Whitfield and own very own Reid Coolsaet. Come down to the Hammer in November and be part of this great run!
The road to Hope race was amazing. The weather was great, the race was well organized. We are Hamilton thumpers and you are not a Hamiltonian if you haven't participated in one of the Hamilton races. The only negative we had for this race was the bunny for our time was not consistent and got stuck behind the train and then he had to make up for lost time. A bit of an annoyance., otherwise amazing
The Road To Hope is one of my favorite races. The 1/2 marathon is truly a pleasure to run as a first timer or one that has raced many races.
The team of coordinators work tirelessly at making sure every detail is taken care of.
I would highly recommend this race to racers... enjoy the scenery!
Great race for my first marathon. Not a huge crowd, so didn't feel overwhelmed like some of the other big races. Beautiful scenery along the way. Wasn't too excited about the medal, ribbon seamed a bit cheap and the front of the medal was scratched up. I will definitely participate in this race again.
I ran the full marathon and It was a wonderful first full Marathon for me. There was not to many people doing the race which was great for me. The route was nice and the people were wonderful. The medal could have looked a little nicer, It looked really cheap. Mainly because it was my first Full I would have loved a really nice one. All in all I loved the race and am looking forward to doing it again this year.
I ran the Half Marathon at the Hamilton race weekend and overall found it a well organized event.
The race day bib pick-up was a great option and the tented facilities at Confederation Pk. were well organized and staffed.
The bussing to the start line up on the mountain were on time and staffed by volunteers who had many giveaways to entertain us on the 15 minute ride.
Facilities were good at the high scholl and reminded me of a mimi Boston experience.
The course was scenic for the most part,though the finishing 5k or so were on a bikepath that was open to the public,and I for one,had to avoid a rollerblader hell bent for speed in the last 2k.
The finish line was excellent with water readily available to finishers along with space blankets and medical staff.The tents holding food,massage area and such were adjacent to the finish and parking lot,so very little walking for anything you needed post-race.
The only negative was the age group prizes which was a medal and if you asked,a toque.Small drawback to a quality event
The Road to Hope Hamilton Marathon is NOT a big city marathon , with hoards of screaming fans cheering you onward as you run through the city streets. If you're looking for crowd support you'll find more at your 8th graders soccer game. The streets are sparse at best and empty at worst.
What the Hamilton marathon DOES offer, that aruably no other marathon does in the GTA is an uncrowded screaming fast course with the highest percentage of Boston qualifiers for a Canadian race. As I write this the Road to Hope Marathon is listed as the race with the 5th highest percentage of Boston qualifiers in the world.
This was my 2nd year running the race and it appears that race organisers have addressed many of last years issues. The race "expo" is still fairly pathetic- taking place in a cold and windy tent on the waterfront - no reason to linger too long here. The swag bag could be better without a doubt!
Race morning itself there is plenty of free parking at the finish line - although one wonders how this will shape up as the race gets more popular.Traffic into the park seemed to be a problem too - aim to get there early. Buses transport both the half marathon and marathon runners to the start where they are housed in a warm school with plenty of real toilets and portalets outside. This year ( 2011) the race start for the marathon was delayed by 10 minutes owing to a delay in getting the last few buses to the school on time.
The marathon course follows a rural rolling route for the first 21K. It's relatively uncrowded and very easy to hit your pace early on. There are well supplied and staffed water stations every 3K, but watch out since they have served ELoad for the last 2 years - it's clear in colour and can easily be confused with water - it's also an electrolyte only drink which may not work for some.
After 21K comes the screaming downhill down the Red Hill Valley Parkway - lots of fun and easy to get carried away - views of the lake are pretty spectacular.The first time I ran this race there were no water stations down here but this has now been addressed and there is one at the start, one in the middle and one as you exit the highway. This last aid station was meant to supply gels but i heard a volunteer telling a fellow runner that they had none left - presumably most of them had been given to the Half marathoners - I would recommend bringing your own!
At about 28K the course exits the highway and you run a mentally challenging out and back section along the shores of Lake Ontario - the bonus is that it's totally flat and the latter half very beautiful - if you are able to find beauty in the final 6K of a marathon! The Finish line is pretty underwhelming but there was plenty of food, apples, bananas, oranges, cookies, pizza, bagels and my favourite , chicken soup! It would be nice to offer additional water at the finish on top of the one bottle thrust on you as you cross the line. Results were posted promptly and massages and medical help were available
If you're into medals rather than finishing times then you might be disappointed - the medal is cheap to say the least but this is predominantly a charity race run for a wonderful cause by a very hard working race director.
There has been much talk over the past couple of years about the impact of the train on the race , and rightfully so. I didn't hear anything about the train affecting the race this year and noticed race officials at the train tracks - presumably they were there to take down the numbers of any runners stopped by the train. It would be a good idea for the race director to place timing mats either side of the tracks for accurate timing of any runners stopped by the train.
Whilst on the subject of timing mats - it might be nice to offer runners a halfway split time? I certainly would take this over the boring race shirt offered this year!
Plenty of volunteers at the start, on course and at the finish line - some of the high school kids working the aid station were just phenomenal.
Overall a great smaller local race, improving year on year. Not one to run for the atmosphere, a great shirt or a fancy medal but if your goal is a Boston qualifying time or a PB then it cannot be beaten!