I had no real expectations for the Marshall Marathon in West Virginia. This wasn’t a state that I was particularly excited to visit, and I figured that it would be a fairly “blah” small town race. I was pleasantly surprised by the entire experience.
Huntington, West Virginia is a seven- hour drive from Saint Louis, but it’s fairly scenic and there were still some pretty fall colors in Indiana and Kentucky. Jim and I had a great brunch in downtown Louisville, and overall the trip wasn’t a bad one. We met up with several members of our 50sub4 group for a pre- race dinner on Saturday evening. It was a fun event, and we had a great time getting to know some other runners from around the country.
I heard that the Marshall Marathon was fairly flat, though rather boring. In a state as hilly as West Virginia, this sounded perfectly acceptable to me. The course ended up being much nicer than I anticipated: It’s a double loop that winds around the town of Huntington, Marshall University campus, Ritter Park, and the Ohio River. Both the park and campus were scenic, and running through the town wasn’t as tedious as it had been described. There was a stretch of the course where runners were both coming and going which also added some interest. (I like watching other runners.) The second loop was actually more enjoyable than the first because I knew what to expect with each mile. There were some small hills, but nothing that felt difficult. This isn’t a huge race, but the half and full marathon runners stayed together through the first loop, so there were always people nearby. Once the half turned off at mile 12, the race got pretty lonely. There are a lot of turns on the course, and I tried to keep someone in my eyeline as often as possible to be sure that I was going the right way.
For a smaller marathon, this one was very well supported. The weather was also absolutely perfect; the day started out a bit chilly with temperatures in the high 30’s but warmed up as the morning progressed. (Note to self: You wore capri pants and a long sleeve shirt that you took off halfway through the run. You probably would have been fine in a t- shirt from the start.)
The best part about this race is the last mile. As we entered campus for the second time, we were handed a white carnation in memory of the victims of the 1970 plane crash which the film We Are Marshall is based on. We carried the flowers for 200 yards and then deposited them in a basket near Memorial Fountain. The race ends inside the stadium, and upon entering participants have the option to grab a football and run it into the finish. This was a really fun way to end the race, and I had a ton of fun standing behind the finisher’s chute watching the other members of our running club cross the line with their respective footballs.
I had hoped to come in under 3:30 in this marathon, but thanks to a good course and good weather, I finished in 3:25:52, which is my fastest time since June. It was also good enough for a 3rd place master’s and 8th place overall female finish.
Sub 4 State: 47, BQ State: 47, Sub 3:30 State #24
Finish Time: 3:25:52
Place Within My Gender: 8/141 (1st in my age group)
Favorite Race Day Song: “American Beauty/ American Psycho”
Total Training Miles: 9,331.65
Shoe Total: 29