By Karen Kwan
On Sunday November 5, 2017, runners took on the Hamilton Marathon (pegged at Canada’s #1 Boston Qualifier) and Half-Marathon. The forecast earlier in the week called for 9 degrees Celsius and a mix of sun and cloud. But as the race day approached, it looked like it was going to be a rainy day. And sure enough, it called for light rain.
Morning of, runners gathered and kept warm in the arena before the race start, and we would doubt that anyone who ran the marathon would call the downpour the greeted us at 7:45 a.m. light rain. With many decked out in ponchos and garbage bags, the runners took off for their 42.2k race. The rain would be intermittent throughout the race, which made some of the roads slippery. And the rain wasn’t the only thing to contend with: there was strong winds (reportedly gusts of 49 km/hr at some points) so the conditions were not favourable for the marathoners.
Described as flat and fast, the rolling hills in the first half of the race caught me by surprise (despite having watched the course video), as did the Red Hill Expressway, which I anticipated to be a significant descent for the entire parkway (when the descent is rather minor other than the ramp to get onto it), although some runners do feel significant impact running this stretch of the race. After the Parkway, the rest of the route is flat as you work your way to the Confederation Park portion of the race along Beach Blvd. and the Waterfront Trail.
With the conditions as they were (and possibly the remoteness of the route for the first two-thirds of the race), there was little cheer support along the route until you got to Confederation Park, where a booth from MIzuno and some friends and family, including one dressed as Thor, helped to perk up the mood on this cold day. The route is scenic along the back country roads when you run along the escarpment, and the lake offers pretty views as well at the end.
As evidenced on Instagram, many people struggled with the conditions and many people also had fantastic races, and many got their BQ. Bonsa Gofa took first place for the men with a chip time of 2:23:33 and Jane Weber was the first woman to finish with a chip time of 2:58:49.
At the finish, after receiving the hefty medal, runners fueled up on apples, bananas, hot broth (which many added the package of hemp hearts to) and pizza (what a nice departure from plain bagels!).
Despite the conditions, it’s definitely a race we’d consider doing again given it’s timing in the season (when the weather is cooler, which is our personal preference),and it can be hard to resist the draw that it’s the number one Boston Qualifier in Canada! Congrats to all the runners!
Karen Kwan is a regular iRun fashion and travel contributor, and you’ll find her running fashion posts every Friday on Instagram. She contributes to a number of publications and you can also follow her travel and running adventures at Health & Swellness.