Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 12:16PM
Hello Road2Hope Coordinators,
I just wanted to write to say Thank You for an amazing marathon weekend in Hamilton! I was one of the New York marathoners who ran the Road2Hope Marathon on November 4th. I'm sure you have heard many of these stories in the past few days, but I wanted to share my marathon experience with you and thank you again for everything you all did.
My father is a marathon runner and it has been my dream since I was 13 years old to run the Boston Marathon. After qualifying for the 2012 New York Marathon at the Ottawa Army Run, I set my sights on re-qualifying for 2013 New York Marathon (like Boston, the qualifying times were raised this year) at the Ottawa Race Weekend half marathon. I followed a longer, more intense training regime, desperate to beat that elusive 1:27:00 time. The training went really well and I was feeling very confident as the date approached. Then, two weeks before the race, I was hit by a car while returning from one of my speed runs. The driver failed to stop at a stop sign and, already halfway across the street, there was nothing I could do to get out of the way. As well as many cuts and bruises, I tore a ligament in my ankle. For the first time since I started running, I was on the sidelines for race weekend, cheering on my Mum as she ran the race I had been training for. After three months of physiotherapy (and countless hours spent on a stationary bike) I was allowed to start training for New York. The week before the race had me glued to the weather network and New York Marathon website, checking constantly for updates on Hurricane Sandy. After seeing the devastation I was sure it would be cancelled but when the announcement was made that the marathon was officially on I was absolutely overjoyed. On Friday I caught my flight from Halifax, where I am at university, to Ottawa to meet my Mum. The plan was to drive from Ottawa to New York. Just as we were pulling out of the Ottawa Airport, my Mum's cellphone rang. It was one of her colleagues informing us that the marathon had just been cancelled. To say that I was devastated would be a massive understatement. I had already experienced training for a race only to be unable to run it once this year and that was quite enough. Undaunted, we drove to the nearest Running Room store and asked about marathons that weekend. As they only have access to Running Room sponsored events, we were informed that the only race this weekend was a half marathon in Markham. Upset, I called my fellow running friend, who lives in Toronto, and told her that my marathon had just been cancelled. Her response was immediate: there was a marathon in Hamilton this weekend, why not run that one instead? She looked it up for me and found that I could still register at the Expo the next day. Determined to be there right when the Expo opened, my Mum and I got in our car (this is at 9pm, mind!) and drove from Ottawa to Hamilton, arriving at 3:30am. By the time we found a hotel and checked it it was 4:00am. We got up the next morning at 6:30am and went to the Expo before it opened. When we arrived, hassled and panicky,the volunteers were absolutely amazing. They told us right away that an extra 250 spots had been opened for New York runners and not to worry. Euphoria. That is the only way to describe my feeling upon realizing that all of my training had not been for nothing and that I was going to be able to run a marathon after all. I then found out that this race was the number one Boston qualifier in Canada...even better! I had been prepared for 12 degrees and sunny in New York and the forecast was calling for cloudy and 2 degrees in Hamilton. Fortunately, I was able to buy a pair of longer pants and a long-sleeved shirt at the Expo so I was all ready for the race. The actual race itself was incredibly well organized, especially for a race which was operating over-capacity. Because of all the mayhem in New York, I would have had to have caught the bus to Staten Island at 4:30am, then waited around in the cold for five hours before my start. In Hamilton, I arrived an hour early and was able to sit in a nice warm gym before the race started. Everyone was so incredibly friendly. In line for the portapotty, I met another New York runner running his first marathon and another lady who had run 14 marathons, including Boston 8 times! Everyone, it seemed, had a story to tell. The race itself was a beautiful course. I had no idea there was so much lovely countryside around Hamilton! I was amazed at how smoothly the water stations worked, especially since they weren't expecting quite that many runners! My goal time was to qualify for Boston (3:35), although I was hoping to beat 3:30. In the end, I ran the marathon in 3:14, absolutely smashing my previous personal best and qualifying for Boston in style. Not only that, but I won my age category so I got a little bit of extra hardware to take home with me! A special thanks must go out to the 3:15 pace bunny who I stuck with for the entire race. All in all, it was the most enjoyable race I have ever run. The atmosphere was wonderful. I have seen since that this little race has been getting a lot of publicity and you absolutely deserve it. It seemed that everyone was going out of their way to accommodate the stranded New York runners. Throughout the day, the person on the loud-speaker kept thanking the New York runners for coming. However, it is US who should be thanking YOU. This race absolutely saved the day. The first thing I did upon getting my bib and realizing that I was, after all, running a marathon this weekend, was to make a donation to your chosen charities. I sincerely hope that other runners did the same and that you greatly surpassed your fundraising goal. After everything you did, you can be sure that I will be back to run this race again next year. What's more, I'm definitely bringing my whole family (we're all runners!). After the despair of thinking the hurricane would cancel New York, followed by relief that it was on, followed by heartbreak when it was ultimately cancelled and then euphoria at finding another race, I can promise you that crossing the finish line at the Hamilton Marathon was a hundred times sweeter than finishing in Central Park could ever be.
Thank you once again for everything you did. I will definitely be spreading the word about this race to all of my running friends!