This was my third time running the Hamilton Marathon.
This was a wonderful Sunday race day experience, Saturday had some room for improvement.
The Friday-Saturday expo was a great setup at the Confederation Park finish area with sturdy, heated tents. It was likely perfect for locals, offering Friday and Saturday daytime kit pickup. For out-of-towners, the hours were not so great. The Saturday expo closed at 4:00 and if you wanted/had to pick up your bib on Sunday, you had to fork over $25.
By the time we got there in the late afternoon, most of the vendors had packed and and who remained had little left to pick through. Good for them, bad for us. The worst part was the race shirt. If you are going to ask for my size as the organizers did upon registration, then come kit pickup day, I expect my kit to have the size I ordered. All of the men’s shirts were gone and the women’s were down to XL. Not great if you want folks wearing the shirt of the alternative Toronto Marathon around the bigger city next door.
Sunday was flawless, as per usual.
Pre-race vehicle dropoff and bus loading at the finish was well planned and went smoothly. A guide came aboard the bus as we loaded to thank us and tell us some of the start line specifics, which was a great touch. The bus ride to the start was smooth and we were greeted by Race Director Gord Pauls on exiting the ride.
There were lots of port-a-potties at the start, though most of us preferred the horribly long restrooms lines in the heated rec centre.
A split start of 7:30 (marathon) and 7:45 half marathon was great. Why jam the course as many events do?
The start was smooth and the course was a significant net decline – as promised. There is quite a few ups and downs in the current route pre-15K. Not unlike other marathons but not something often noted with Hamilton. A varied course – 15K country, a bit of city to the 6K freeway and some trail to the 12K waterfront trails. This was all good except for the trail from Barton Street to the beach – running on sideways concrete blocks at varied angles was a strange and challenging surprise.
A quick course – but 150 metres of net decline is not the only thing going on. Quite a few, like myself, were not up to our planned paces with the seemingly light headwind 14K to 36K. But this is why point-to-point courses are like a box of chocolates. Still a quick route though.
The finish was solid. I was announced by name entering the finishing chute below where you can take your cheers, it was easy to meet my travelling companion, who got in position to take the chute photo without issue. And the medal was nice.
All-in-all a solid marathon event. Perfect for those in the area. If outside of Hamilton, better to make a weekend of it, travel and hit the expo early and enjoy the quick course.