What an incredible morning for a run by the Lake! On November 4th, 2018 I ran the half marathon at Road2Hope Hamilton Marathon, the week leading up to the race including the Saturday expo had been horrible first real snow/rain storm for the winter season, I was late getting to the expo on Saturday for my race pack pick up arriving mid-afternoon, was sad to see a lot of vendors were packing up. I’m sure the weather didn’t help or they just sold out of their product. The volunteers were very helpful in the tent maze, I missed the very large sign that advised us where to go and get our swag after bib pick up. The long sleeve tech shirt is a fabulous layer for the winter outdoor running months.
Sunday morning was a bright & early morning waking up at 4:30am to head from Orangeville to Hamilton, my stomach was in knots about racing/running but after arriving to the a well-attended parking lot directing traffic and getting onto the bus (so many busses the line just didn’t end!!!) the feeling eased Thanks to one of the course directors climbing onto the bus, wishing us all a great race & thanking us for coming out to run! The quick bus ride up the hill to the start brought us to a warm community centre building where runners could use the bathrooms and stay warm before the race was to begin, music & dj playing in the parking lot pumping everyone up. Race started on time, with a pre-warning about construction that was happening between kilometre 5-6ish the race organisers ensured us that the construction company was nice enough to flatten out the stretch of packed gravel to try to make the transition from asphalt to gravel seamless.
All the water stations are fully stocked with water and electrolytes plus very friendly & supportive volunteers to cheer you on & keep you motivated, loved that the 1st station the volunteers didn’t say “you’re almost there” 🙂 the stations are placed in great spots throughout the entire 21.1km race and pretty close to being every 3km.
One downfall to the course, or maybe was just the weather the cheering squads, people coming to watch the runners was very minimal. Granted about 5+ kilometres are run along the Red Hill Valley Parkway & I’m sure folks don’t want to walk down the ramps to be on the closed highway would have been great to have people cheering you on along other parts of the route. The final 5kms are along the lake shore where small crowds did come out at this point the sun is out and bright but being by the water the winds were chilly. I’m not a super-fast runner but loved that in the final stretch runners that are heading by you are giving high fives or cheering you on to keep going, they are still out there with you but heading in the right direction to cross the finish line! One thing that I’m sure is impossible to control the final 1km is crowded with finished runners and local community using the Hamilton Beach Trail, runners know to move aside as a runner is coming to the finish line unfortunately not all the local “nonrunners” community do so a few extra wide steps to get around the groups gathering on the path but still crossed the finish line injury free.
I would recommend this race to any type of runner whether they are new to running or been running for many years, the downhill fairly flat course is amazingly organised, post race you are offered the standard banana and water along with a warm bowl of soup and pizza bread. Road2Hope Hamilton Marathon is on the list to race again. Happy Running