When the alarm clock went off at 3:30, I was feeling well as I had gone to bed very early. As I had eaten well the night before, I was not very hungry and only took my three packets of Immun’Âge®, ate one banana, and drank a fresh fruit juice for the road.
I had been staying in Boston overnight and the marathon was two hours away in Keene, a small city in New Hampshire, home to Keene State College and Antioch University New England. It took me quite some time to get out of the Boston suburbs: I got a bit lost as there were no street signs. I drove very carefully because of the wildlife in New Hampshire countryside and finally arrived in Keene. The Clarence DeMar Marathon honors former Keene resident Clarence DeMar, “a seven-time B.A.A. Boston Marathon champion, an Olympic medalist, and an international running icon. No one has ever broken his record number of Boston wins.”
I parked my car on the Keene State College campus where I picked up my bib and runner’s packet and waited for the shuttle bus to the start of the marathon. I stayed as long as possible in the Bib & Packet Pickup room as it was 37° F outside. We boarded the shuttle at 6 a.m. and arrived at the start about fifteen minutes later. We were able to wait and warm up in the Spaulding Gymnasium to shield ourselves from the cold. At 7:50, we walked down to the starting line. I took place at the end of the runners’ pack as I did not want to be in the way of my fellow marathoners: the previous week had been quite busy and I was going to take it easy that day with a slow pace.
The gun went off at 8 a.m.! We ran on a road alongside a creek. The scenery was very beautiful but the course had rolling hills from the start and the road surface was in a very bad shape. I passed km 5 in 36 minutes and km 10 in 1:17. At this time we took a new road and ran facing moving traffic without any cones nor signs warning drivers of the on-going race. As always I find this incredible and very dangerous. I could not fully enjoy the beauty of the green countryside as I had to focus on the cars coming in my direction.
I reached km 15 in 1:47. We reached the Surry Mountain Dam that offers great views. I was able to take a few beautiful pictures as we ran across the dam and turned around. I reached km 20 in 2:38 and half marathon in 2:47. The slow pace suited me well allowing me to enjoy the scenery. The rolling course had climbs and downhills that were not always easy to manage. We headed more and more into the countryside and ran along a superb golf course.
The sun was shining but not heating us. At this point, I passed many runners reclaiming a few places for the final ranking as my pace remained regular. I reached km 25 in 3:20.
We went back on a road with more traffic where police officers were managing the big crossings. At this point, we were running, however, on a bike lane with our back to the cars. I reached km 30 in 4:01. We ran through a residential area, a park, a small downtown, and – strangely enough – a cemetery.
The course was varied and pleasant but quite rolling. I reached km 35 in 4:42. We got closer to the center of the town. After a few uphills and long straight stretches I reached km 40 in 5:22. I sped up a bit and crossed the finishing line in 5:43:59 (full distance in 5:40:50).
I received my medal, I grabbed something to eat and got a massage.
I found this marathon very pleasant to run, with a varied course – and a few difficult stretches – and the stunningly beautiful New Hampshire countryside. There was only one slightly sour note: safety! More security would have been welcome.
Let’s meet next week after a few days in Saint Martin, French West Indies, for the marathon of New York State that I finally will be able to run, with a friend accompanying me half way. Have a nice week.