My Profile

@paula.a.banks

CANADA Raving since 2017 Boston Marathon finisher active 11 months, 3 weeks ago

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My Races

Organize, track & review your races and personal bests here.

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Half Marathon

Marathon

Ultramarathon

(Marathon or Ultra) + Half

Marathon + Ultra

Other

Future Races

Personal Bests (1)

Race Distance Location Date Result
Marathon Hamilton, Canada Nov 2, 2019 3:20:00

Future Races (0)

Race Distance Location Date Paid

Past Races (4)

Race Distance Location Date Result My Raves My Performance
Marathon Hamilton, Canada Nov 2, 2019 3:20:00
Marathon Hamilton, Canada Nov 3, 2018 3:38:00
Marathon Mississauga, Canada May 6, 2018 3:24:00
Marathon Hamilton, Canada Nov 5, 2017 3:26:35

My Raves

This is a race that I've been doing every year for the past few years. The only variable in terms of quality is the weather. The rest of the day … MORE

This is a race that I’ve been doing every year for the past few years. The only variable in terms of quality is the weather. The rest of the day is fantastic, and just keeps getting better year after year. The scenery is lovely: the first half is largely open fields and slightly rolling terrain, run on quiet rural roads, with a couple of particularly beautiful stretches along the edge of the escarpment, looking out over Lake Ontario to the distant Toronto skyline. Then you head down the closed Red Hill Expressway for a gentle descent over about 6 kilometres. Then 2 kilometres of gravel trail, with a couple of the shortest yet steepest hills of the course. The final 10 kilometres are run on Beach Boulevard and the Waterfront Trail, right beside Lake Ontario. The wind will always be a factor in this race, given the geography and the open terrain, however the fact that the course takes a rough figure-8 shape means that you’re never always battling a headwind, nor profiting from a tailwind. This year, the principal headwind came on the 7 westbound kilometres of Mountain Road (kms 14-17), though the wind was strong enough that the north-ish roads perpendicular to Mountain Road were also pretty windy. But there was a nice tailwind down the Red Hill (last year that was a headwind) and also an assisting wind for the final 7km along the waterfront trail. This race can give you any kind of weather conditions: I’ve run it in warm sunshine, cold rain, warm rain, strong winds, and light snow. While the weather can’t be controlled, what’s really nice is that you have a nice, warm recreation centre to hang out in until 2 minutes before the start. And there are tents, hot soup, and parking right at the finish line waiting at the end (you park at the finish and are bussed to the start).
This is a fast course, but not ridiculously so. The descent is gentle and I have never found it punishing on the quads or the hamstrings. My Garmin shows an elevation gain of 143m and an elevation loss of 290m. Compare that to Mississauga, which does not feature a descent of the escarpment, and which I would consider largely flat in feel, with a gain of 90m and a loss of 167m. Yes, Hamilton is a downhill marathon and a good option for a BQ, but it’s not extreme by any means.
Finally, I want to thank the race organizers, the volunteers, police and spectators who all contribute so much energy and enthusiasm to make the runners feel welcome, supported and happy.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
4

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

I've run this race several times now; it's becoming a yearly tradition. I love the energy of the race, and the passion of the organizers and volunteers. The weather can … MORE

I’ve run this race several times now; it’s becoming a yearly tradition. I love the energy of the race, and the passion of the organizers and volunteers. The weather can be a crap shoot, but that’s part of the fun, and part of living in Canada. And the beautiful thing is that you can stay warm indoors at the recreation centre until 5 minutes before start time. The only fly in the ointment this year was the long lineups for the bathrooms, both indoors and also at the start line port-a-potties. I liked that they sent the half marathon runners off first this year; it alleviated most of the congestion in the latter kilometres of the course. The morning was simply beautiful, and the views out over lake Ontario extended all the way to the Toronto skyline. The first 15k are rural and slightly rolling; very pleasant. Just after the halfway point, you start the descent down the highway, which is usually a treat to look forward to, and some guaranteed fast splits, however this year was straight into a brisk headwind, and it was demoralizing. The 2km along the trail made for a nice change of pace and terrain, then back into a rigorous wind for kms 31-36. I crashed and burned at around 32km and had to run-walk it in. I’m faulting my own training and conditioning for the most part, but the wind can take some of the blame too 🙂 The people along the waterfront trail were super supportive (spectators and volunteers) and the post-race was excellent. The only 2 criticisms I would have are: a couple of the water stations were more than 4km apart, and there could be more people at each station to help move things faster. And secondly, I did not like the huge advertisement for the dental practice on the back of the race shirt. Thank you to the Pauls family for all of the effort and time that you put into this wonderful race.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
4

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

I ran Mississauga in 2007 as my very first marathon, and managed to qualify for Boston there. In the intervening years, Boston has become my spring marathon. But this year … MORE

I ran Mississauga in 2007 as my very first marathon, and managed to qualify for Boston there. In the intervening years, Boston has become my spring marathon. But this year I did Mississauga, and it was wonderful to return to the ‘scene of the crime’ so to speak.
The weather was ideal, with a start-time temperature of 10 Celsius, and little wind. As the hours wore on, the temperature rose by a few degrees, and the wind increased a bit, but if anything the headwind was appreciated as a cooling factor.
The first 5k are unremarkable, along Burnhamthorpe road, a typical commercial street, but closed completely to traffic, which is good, since the half marathon (around 1800 participants) and the marathon (around 800) all go out together.
Then you turn south and the scenery is very pretty along Mississauga road.
At 16k, the half marathoners head out toward the finish line and the full heads west. Kilometres 20 to 28 are in an industrial area and mentally can be the doldrums. It’s an out and back, so you can see the runners ahead of you and behind you on the course as you cover this stretch. I saw the lead woman just exiting the small lakeside park, on her way back in, as I was still heading out.
Gels are supplied at 17km and 32k-ish. Nice to have a couple. Water stations can be as much as 4km apart, but are well-organized and supported by enthusiastic and efficient volunteers. On a hot day, you might want to carry your own fluids.
The last 14k dips several times between lakeshore road and the lake, and is very pleasant and scenic, with pretty residential areas, a (mostly paved) path right along the lakefront, and some minor hills before things flatten out completely at 38k.
One thing that was a really pleasant surprise was the amount of spectator support, cheering stations and some musical entertainment. As well, this is the first and only marathon where I’ve seen the traffic-control police smiling and clapping and cheering as well.
Marathoners be aware that you share the first 16k of the course with half-marathoners, plus there is a 5x8km relay for the marathon, so don’t let yourself get sucked into racing those who are covering shorter distances.
The finish line is at the end of a spit of land that curves out into Lake Ontario. The finishing chute was very efficient.
Kudos to the organizers and the city of Mississauga for creating a really pleasant race experience.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
4
SWAG
4

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?

I've run the Hamilton Marathon three of its ten years, and I love it more each time. The course is touted to be the fastest Boston qualifier in Canada, and … MORE

I’ve run the Hamilton Marathon three of its ten years, and I love it more each time. The course is touted to be the fastest Boston qualifier in Canada, and it certainly is a course that lends itself to a BQ. That said, it is NOT a breakneck, quad-trashing, ridiculous descent that some ”fast” marathons choose to use, but rather a gentle, easy descent over 8km. I’m writing this the day after running the marathon and my legs feel better than they have at any other marathon, in fact I’ll be going out for my usual 10 miler tomorrow.
There is so much to love about this race. It’s small and intimate as marathons go, which I happen to like, though I admit some people do like the crowd support of the major marathons. That said, there were a surprising number of people standing out in the wind and battering rain yesterday to cheer on the runners, all along the course.
The staging area for the start is a rec complex, which means a warm place to wait and yes, indoor plumbing. You can go out the doors to the start line 5 minutes before start time and it’s as easy as that.
The course is in a word, lovely. The first 15 k or so are all on rural, largely flat country roads, with a few stretches of splendid views out over lake Ontario, all the way toward Toronto. Then you do 8k in rural/suburban but still quiet areas before heading down the Red Hill Expressway at 22km. This 6km descent is entirely closed to traffic, and it’s quite fun to run down the highway as the traffic in the upbound lanes beeps horns in encouragement.
At Barton Street (28k) you leave the expressway and do 2km on trails, which is a really nice change of footing. Nothing technical, but a great way to change it up and give the legs a bit of a rest.
Kilometres 31 to 36-ish are done along the waterfront trail and Beach Boulevard. There is a timing mat at the 36k turnaround, then you head back along the waterfront trail toward the finish line. You are literally running right alongside Lake Ontario. There could be few prettier places to run a marathon.
Yes, weather is a crap shoot. November in Southern Ontario could be anything from Summer to Winter. Roll the dice and see what you get on race day. The three times I’ve run this race were basically three different seasons. And the 2017 version was VERY windy and VERY rainy. Yes, the wind is a factor. But look at the course map and you’ll see that headwinds and tailwinds basically average out. There will be some tough kilometres. But there will be some easy ones as well. Last year, 2016, we had a headwind going down the Red Hill, and it seemed to mitigate the speed of the descent. This year, 2017, we struggled against headwinds from kilometres 9-14 and again from 36-42, but kilometres 22-30 down the Red Hill were a sturdy tailwind.
The post-race care is exceptional. Right at the finish line there is a big tent with people handing out soup and pizza and other comfort foods to help warm up the cold, tired runners.
The very best thing about this race, though, is the intangible, human factor. The Pauls family is a running institution in Hamilton; they are all passionate runners and triathletes; they operate the Runners Den stores, they have sponsored and supported African runners who need to find their feet in Canada, and they have organized this race and others such as the Ancaster Old Mill race, for many years. They have always been inspirational for what they give back to the local community and to other charities, such as relief work in Haiti in the case of the Road2Hope races. They have created a cadre of dedicated volunteers who genuinely want to be at this race and make sure that the runners have a positive experience, as was witnessed at the 2017 edition of the race. Given the weather conditions, I fully expected some water stations to perhaps be understaffed, because volunteers had cried off, but this was far from the case. The people standing out there in the rain were enthusiastic and kind and very much appreciated. And I think it’s this quality that speaks to the city of Hamilton as a whole. They’re simply good, kind people.
I almost want to be selfish and not post this review, because I feel like the Road2Hope marathon is indeed a little gem of a race, and it’s like a secret that I want to keep all to myself. But at the same time, they deserve the accolades for what they’ve accomplished. Thank you for another wonderful running experience.

DIFFICULTY
3
PRODUCTION
5
SCENERY
5
SWAG
5

1 member marked this review helpful. Agree?