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Where: Edmonton, AB, Canada          When: Aug 19-20, 2017

The friendly marathon. The Edmonton Marathon is a world class race. The course is flat and fast. Many people set personal bests here and the road closures last a long time to allow even marathon walkers enough time to complete the course. The race expo opens on Friday, the kids race goes on Saturday, and the 5K, 10K, Half, and Full marathons run on Sunday.

The kids race was in a different venue this year. We got to go into Remax Field and run around the baseball stadium. They had different events for the kids and bouncy houses before the race. It is so nice when organizers place so much emphasis on the kids. These are after all the runners of the future, so giving them their own special day to shine is so important. On Saturday, the kids are the stars.

Sunday, this was my second year doing the Half Marathon here and the course was a little changed from last year in order to offer more views of the beautiful river valley and to take out the one hill that the course had last year. Edmonton Police controlled every major intersection and the cheering fans along the course did not let up.

The starting corral was packed! So much so that I could not get up to where I wanted to be and had a lot of people to get around for the first 2 kilometres. I wanted to get in front of the 2:00 pace bunnies but ended up lined up behind the 2:30 bunny. The course change this year did get rid of the bottleneck that we faced last year going down a bike path between streets less than 2K in. This year it stayed completely on roads.

The Half Marathon started west on Jasper Avenue at the Shaw Conference Centre. I lost count of the number of water stations along the course. I carried my own water bottle so I skipped the first 2 water stations. As per usual, I started way to fast and was burning up energy quickly for the first 6K. Then I took my first gel and settled into pace. At the water stations I stuck to the water and not the Gatorade so that I could toss the water toward my mouth area as I ran. There were a few short out and back sections, which I enjoy, because then you can see that there are still a lot of people behind you and there is no need to panic. I passed the Kathy’s Run team sponsored water station around the 8 or 9 kilometre mark and saw several friends there helping out who cheered me on.

I broke into my sports beans after 12K and was feeling fatigue from those early fast kilometres. Then, a friend of mine passed me at the 15K mark and asked if I was doing ok. I pushed again to keep up with her and but lost her around the 17K mark. I took my second gel around here. I was learning forward and looking down, not a good sign. By 18K I knew that I just had to keep going if I was going to keep it under 2 hours. Even though I was feeling rough, and staring at my watch often, I knew that if I could just hold this pace, I could do it. The final kilometre down Jasper Ave is still a blur. I had my head down and was picturing the finish line. When I saw 1:59:00 on the clock as I was approaching, I gave it everything that I had left and finished at 1:59:42 gun time.

After I crossed the finish and received my medal, I grabbed 2 water bottles and found a spot to collapse to the ground and gather myself. Then I met up with my wife who set herself a personal best in the 10K. Inside the Shaw Conference Centre they had juices, scrambled eggs, ham, and of course bananas. My body was still in too much shock to eat much so I just had juice and a banana. Outside they had free donuts and Tim Horton’s coffee.

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Tip for next year: Line up in the corals early.