I thought I should start ramping up for the fall 24-hour race season and registered the week before the Canton Marathon (race date 6-17-12). Canton is a smaller city about one hour south of Cleveland. What possessed them to start up a marathon and schedule it for mid-June? Not sure but the timing worked out well for me so I got sucked in to signing up!
Canton is the home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame… so everything about the race had a football theme… which is a bit interesting for a running event. The race started by the Hall of Fame and the finish line was on the actual infield of the football stadium. Likewise, the shirts were designed to look like football jerseys and the medals were shaped like footballs. Quite unique.
I arrived at the 6:00 a.m. starting line well ahead of the actual start. Anticipating hot weather, the early start would give us a bit of a break before the sun started scorching us. Apparently worried about the possibility of super hot weather, right after I registered I was given the option of “deferring” until next year. Hmmm…. I think if you sign up for a June race in Ohio you can pretty much expect hot weather. I guess they were being EXTRA cautious.
While we all lined up at the Hall of Fame for the start, we were then directed down a hill and by a river to where the real starting line was, about a ½ mile away. This took a bit of time so we actually got underway about 6:15. Deciding that this was only a “training run” for me and I didn’t want to suffer too much, I opted to start with the 3:45 pace team (8:35 minute mile). Before the start, our pacer, Amy, mentioned that there were a few “rollers” at the end of the race….. Otherwise I was clueless about the course. I hadn’t bothered to look at the elevation or where we would actually be running.
Luckily for us, there was substantial cloud cover once the sun came up. The race had water stops every mile, which was also fantastic. And although Canton is not a big city, there were a surprising amount of people out on the course to cheer people on. As the race progressed, it became very clear that this was not a flat course and in fact we were either running up hills or down them….. Nothing flat at all. Having done all of my training on flat ground, this was not the best course for me. My hamstrings were getting very sore toward the end of the race from all the uphills and I started losing steam. Around mile 20 I started fading from the 3:45 pace team (that now only had two runners with the pacer) and I was just trying to hang on. At mile 24, the heavens opened and it stormed like crazy. I thought it might hale! Within minutes, I was soaked to the bone and I gained 10 pounds of water weight from drenched clothes and shoes. As soon as it started, however, the rain stopped and it was no longer raining when I finished at 3:51 in the stadium…. While I liked the stadium finish, I could have done without the “up ramp” to get into the stadium. I had had my fill of uphills by the end!!! After I finished, there were volunteers with buckets of ice water who dumped a bucket over your head with your permission. When asked, I said of course, and then promptly screamed when the bucket was dumped on my head. Boy did that feel good!
For an inaugural event, things were well organized. Although I was hoping for a faster time, I would run it again but would plan to do a little hill training before the race!!