It was with some consternation that I signed up for the Via Marathon. http://www.viamarathon.org
The race occurs at the tail end of the summer during the month of September, so the issues of heat and quality training to complete the distance floated around in my mind. However, the appeal of the event was that it is the final Boston Qualifier for the calendar year, and truthfully, with such an early race, the appeal of enjoying a rest period during the fall was very strong.
Similar to the Hamilton, Ontario (Road to Hope) marathon, the event is designed to give competitors the best possible chance of running a fast time – a competitive qualifying time that may result in a trip to Boston to run the Boston Marathon. Bart Yasso, of Runner’s World fame (http://www.bartyasso.com) was the principle designer of the course, and the event has lived up to its reputation as a fast Boston Qualifying event.
I drove down to Pennsylvania with Ray and Will (T.R.F members ~ Orangeville) on a Friday evening. The drive is scenic, but long, however with the company of good friends, we found ourselves in Lee Valley in no time. The three of us visited the marathin expo Saturday, collected our bibs, loot bag and customary race technical T. The design on the shirt is fantastic, however, the loot bag’s content was poor. As with any marathon, the cost to participate is competitive (and if you’re fortunate to register early, the price is down-right cheap!) Let it be known, that the price is in American dollars.
Race day morning, I boarded a shuttle bus which delivered me to the starting line. There were ample busses, and race marshals ensured that everyone knew what was going on.
The race started on time, and I was fortunate to run under some great conditions. The course lives up to its reputation as fast. It’s a good mix of tarmac, and hard pack trail surfaces. Crowd support was sporadic along the race route, however, at key locations such such as the 1/2, the crowds were large and enthusiastic. Aid stations were clearly marked, providing runners with both hydration and energy gels. Unlike other marathons that I’ve competed in, I never found myself out in “no-man’s land” – running solo. There were always runners of similar ability by my side. This was a tremendous psychological help and made the mile markers fly by. Speaking of which, the mile markers were not accurate, and I relied on my Garmin to keep track of my progress.
My goal was to run another Boston Qualifying time, and I was fortunate to do so. Moreover, I ran a PR, and knocked off a near two minutes from my previous marathon attempt. I recommend this event to all runners. The experience was enjoyable, the course is fast, and well organized. I will remind all readers, that with any destination race outside of Ontario, the cost to run “down south” is something to consider. Between the race registration, travel and accommodation costs, food and beverages for a weekend, setting aside a few spare American dollars will be required.