Dead toenail count: 4
Oh my, what a race! Ok, so the actual race kicked my butt in a huge way. All the reviews were right, this is an incredibly difficult course with hills galore. None of them really steep, but get enough gentle rolling hills and it starts to hurt, with one of them over a mile long at about mile 7. There was another one at mile 23 that was about half a mile long that hurt as well. The weather was a factor as well, with the start at ~70 degrees and ~80 by the finish. Now that I learned my lesson regarding hydration during marathons, I carried a 20 oz bottle of Gatorade with me and still drank water/Gatorade at every one of the 25 some odd water stations throughout the course. I still felt a little dehydrated at the end.
I finished 5th overall, but I will admit that I had to take walking breaks starting at mile 18. Even with all of those, I lost only one place between there and the end. I sweat like a pig, which was fine except for the fact that my feet got very wet (even with ‘running’ socks) and so I got a 4 big honkin’ blisters. At three separate points in the race it felt like someone chopped off one of my toes (each time a different toe) but after 10 minutes the feeling passed in each instance.
The course might have been rough as can be, but the hospitality of the community and race officials is beyond compare. I paid $30 for this race and I got a ok t-shirt, a fabulous pasta dinner, a respectable finishers medal (better than Boston), a free lunch of pulled pork chips and soda, and an 18” trophy for finishing 1st in my age. That’s the material benefits, the people running the race were kind and friendly. Everyone from the ladies helping at packet pickup, to the people serving pasta to the many many water stations volunteers, to the sweet ladies who gave my Gatorade, cold towels and cold sponges at the finish. I can truly see why this marathon has the great reputation it has.
The race is not that popular with less than 250 runners, but they all have an interesting story. I saw a whole bunch of people who are members of the marathon maniacs as well as the 50 states marathon club. I met one guy who was running his 100th marathon, all of which were after he was 51 years old. I met a whole bunch of people who run marathons for fun, not for the competition. The guy who finished 6th overall lives in Columbus, OH and is trying to run 12 marathons this year, one every month. Me, I am just trying to run 7 in total this year. Maybe next year I will try 12. In other words, this marathon draws the marathons ‘wackos’. Understand that I use that as a term of endearment as I am becoming one of those wackos.
This area is economically depressed ($3.50 for a matinee movie, yeah!), just like the entire state of Michigan, so they depend a lot on tourism. You can tell traveling around the area that the whole Hatfield-McCoy thing is something that they play up to get people to visit here. If you ask me, the energy they put into this marathon is worth so much more.
This was one of my lesser marathon finishes, but it will be by far one of the most memorable.