So. Here’s what went down. The day was perfect for running: 6 degrees, overcast, only a slight wind. It was a bit chilly for a start, but I was in singlet and shorts and feeling fine.
I lined up at the front and got a good start. I stayed relaxed, established my rhythm and didn’t encounter any people congestion problems. Things went well around the Citadel, and then we scooted down Maynard. Here we encountered a horde of 10k runners and had to start weaving in and out of traffic – not something you really want to be doing when you’re racing hard, but no problem.
The front end of the half had spread out after a couple of k. There were two in front and then a pack of four of us vying for third. We grouped together and were content to carry each other for awhile.
On the first loop through the north end of Halifax, the course turns right at Russell St. On the second loop, the course keeps going on Maynard and turns right at Columbus. You would imagine that making that right turn on Russell St. would be important enough to warrant stationing a course marshal there to instruct runners to turn. Alas, there was no such course marshal. As it turns out, the four of us ran right past the turn and went all the way to Columbus without a single person telling us we were off course. With this misdirection, the four of us added 5 or 6 minutes of running.
By the time we rejoined the pack streaming down Russell St., we were hundreds back. Not fun. So we picked up the pace and just started passing people. By the time I got to Point Pleasant Park, I’d dropped 2 of the other “misdirected” guys, and I’d finally caught up with the 1:30 pace bunny. With half the race left to run, I knew that I would at least get under 1:30.
I kept going and eventually dropped the other “misdirected” guy. My pace felt good and my legs and lungs were doing okay, but I didn’t have that extra energy that comes from being in a race for the podium. I worked hard and ran what would’ve been at least a 1:18 (a friend ran with me for about 10k and all the splits he took were 3:40 or faster), but ended up 11th with a 1:24.
So it goes.
Here’s the thing, though. There has been a bit of press recently about the bad blood between race organizers and faster local runners. Very few competitive locals are willing to run this race, but I wanted to run it to help start building a bridge between the group of fast marathoners (most of whom I know and train with) and the Bluenose. I wanted to be able to say: “look, they’ve fixed the logistical problems and organized a much better race.” But the fact of the matter is they haven’t. In fact, the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place marathoners all went way off course as well. Every year, there is confusion on the course, and the organizers have not been able to fix the problem. Part of the problem is that four races all intersect in odd and confusing ways. Runners get in each others’ ways and fast runners are forced to add on mileage weaving through the crowds. It’s disappointing.
In the end, the event is great; the race is not.
Oh well. I’m not sure if this fires me up to run the thing again or if it makes me want to stay away from the race forever. All I know is that I can’t really help mend the break between the race and faster runners. But perhaps something positive and constructive can come from this – the race’s problem is not the course; it’s the logistics. And those can be ironed out with good planning.
If anyone cares enough...