It was a gorgeous sunny day. A bit of a nip in the air which called for a Tim Hortons coffee stop part way through to warm up but otherwise, no complaints.
Doug and I arrived at the start line in plenty of time. Especially considering that the race start was delayed by 10 minutes to allow time for all the buses full of runners to get from the finish to the start line. Apparently there's a lot of traffic in Hamilton on a Sunday morning.
We met up with Scully who had come out to cheer as well as Barb, Cathy and John, some pretty amazing runners from St. Catharines.
Once the gun went off, our race stalking plan went into action. We raced to the 8k spot where we met up with Erin. Hi Erin! Despite the fact that we were freezing, Doug and Barb handed off vests and jackets when they passed. I guess standing around doesn't burn quite as many calories or create quite as much heat as running does.
Next stop - right at the top of the Red Hill Expressway. That's where we caught up with Klari with her perfectly coordinated Boston attire and matching cowbell. We were at kilometre twenty-two and as soon as the runners passed us, they turned right, ran down the on ramp, ran on to the expressway and headed down down down the escarpment to the beach strip. No wonder Hamilton Marathon is one of the fastest races in North America with such a huge downhill stretch.
Doug, right before heading on to the Red Hill.
It's hard to believe they shut down a highway for five hours.
Our plan was to race down Centennial Parkway to catch the runners again when they came off the highway at kilometre thirty. Well, apparently all roads in Hamilton are pretty busy on a Sunday morning because, by the time we got there, we had missed Doug. Off to the finish line we went.
Standing at the finish line of the Niagara Falls marathon a few weeks ago, we saw all sorts of runners who were in obvious pain and distress. But we were watching the runners who were running a marathon in over four and half hours. Many of them were running their first marathons and, even for experienced runners, running 5+ hours is hard on the body. The finish line after 4 1/2 hours is not always a pretty sight.
Standing at the finish line of a marathon waiting for four people who, combined, have run over 80 marathons is a whole different ball game. They know what they're doing and they make it look (almost) easy.
Doug was hoping for a 3:45 finish time. He got a 3:38, placed first in his age group and got a guaranteed entry into the 2012 New York Marathon
John finished in 3:57.
Cathy ran a 4:03
And Barb did a 4:04.
But the craziest thing of all was this kid who beat the pants of all of them.
There was some confusion as to whether he was 13 or 15 years old but, either way, holy bananas! He finished in under 3:30.
I have yet to stand at the finish line of a race and not feel all sorts of conflicting emotions as I watch person after person complete whatever journey they were on to get there.
Hamilton was no different.