Welcome to Brookings, South Dakota and one of the oldest marathons in the US!
I woke up at 4:10 am, five minutes before the alarm clock went off. I slept eleven hours straight. I had stayed up 37 hours the day before, taking a train, two flights and dealing with time differences: I really needed to sleep. I was well rested in the morning and really eager to run. I took Immun’Âge®, ate breakfast, drank a fresh fruit juice and got dressed really warm as it was 25 °F outside! (The day before it was 82 °F in New York City!)
Two layers on the legs and three on top, gloves, ear muffs, turtleneck, I was quite ready for the fight. The run started in the little town of Brookings fifty miles away from my hotel in Sioux Falls. I took my rental car to the highway that was just 50 meters from my hotel and after 50 miles on a long straight road I got to Brookings. I parked next to the start and finish area at Brookings’s Pioneer Park, picked up my runner’s packet with my bib and got back in my car to keep warm a half hour longer.
At 6:45 I dropped my bag at the gear check and went to the start area. It was freezing cold with occasionally strong wind gusts. There were about 300 participants, I would say, to run the marathon, the half marathon and the marathon relay.
At 6:50, we heard the national anthem beautifully performed a Capella and at 7 am the run started. I decided to start with a faster pace than usual (8 min/mile) to rapidly raise my temperature as it was really cold. We started with a loop downtown, then traversed the sport areas, beautiful parks, gardens, and residential neighborhoods.
I passed km 5 in 27 minutes. It was a rather flat, rolling course with quick transitions (we hardly ever ran straight stretches to their end) which always gives boost to runners’ morale.
I reached km 10 in 55 minutes. I felt great, the sun was shining unfortunately without warming us up, but the places we ran through were so very green that the run turned out to be very pleasant. I got a lot of comments on my outfit, talked with several runners during the run, and was encouraged and congratulated frequently which made me very happy. Despite the cold weather, there were many well-wishers by the roadside. I am very thankful as it was quite courageous to be there.
I reached km 15 in 01:25. At km 18, the half-marathoners split off and we continued together with the relay runners. The residential neighborhoods and parks we were going through were beautiful there too. I reached km 20 in 01:57 and the half-marathon in 02:04. I felt well, the run was beautiful, and neither wind nor cold changed this great feeling. I felt well physically and mentally, and was in high spirits. There are days where everything goes well.
We left downtown and ran a stretch on a trail before following a superb golf course. It was quite pleasant to run on this very green course.
I reached km 25 in 2:31. I slowed down to a 9.66 min/mile pace which suited me well at this point. We ran through more green areas and residential neighborhoods where everything was very well maintained, with a lot of flowers.
At km 28 we had to run for the first time against the freezing wind which pushed us to not linger. I don’t know whether the organization had planned this in advance, but fortunately we always got to run with the freezing wind at our back and occasionally at our side making things much easier for us runners.
I reached km 30 in 3:10. My pace had dropped which is normal, but everything was going well and I knew that I would finish under five hours which motivated me and I did not need to work at psyching myself up: It just sort of happened that day! Roads were open to motorists in certain areas with the organization, police and army personnel controlling traffic. Everything was well organized and cars ran very slowly making sure runners had enough space to pass by. We could feel how much respect these people had for us runners. The transitions were as fast as before, except for a few long straight stretches on bike paths that were protected from the wind and in very green scenery making conditions quite acceptable.
I reached km 35 in 3:50. It went by quickly even though I enjoyed the beautiful scenic course and took a lot of pictures, stopping for a little pause at each aid stop. We arrived on Main Avenue where I heard the announcer on the mike far away, I ran a last curve and arrived back at Pioneer Park where I passed the finish line in 4:49:29 (Official time was 4:51:49).
In the finish area, volunteers wrapped us in warming blankets. A great idea! There was a lot of food. A restaurant owner was also there cooking delicious hamburgers for us (I ate three of them!). I got my bag back, talked to several runners but did not linger and went back to my car to get warm.
As you can see, everything went quite well that day: a beautiful, fast, rolling race with a varied course, a beautiful sun and a blue sky, a great and friendly atmosphere, and a very fine organization. Even the freezing wind did not spoil the day. My motivation for running and my fitness were at a top level and I was in high spirits. I did not feel tired when I finished the marathon. So everything was all for the best in the best of all worlds.
The organization of this marathon shows that organizing a very beautiful race and making sure that nothing is missing is possible with runners paying half the prize requested for other marathons ($76). Kudos to the organizers and volunteers, police and military personnel. Many marathon organizers should adjust their way!
I’m going to eat a good buffalo steak, drink some fire water and smoke a pipe!
See you next Saturday. As I was not cold enough today, I am going to North Dakota to check out the weather there.
Have a good week!