The race forms part of the Bermuda Marathon Weekend Challenge. The full challenge involved a mile race on Friday, 10k on Saturday and the marathon on Sunday; the half challenge substitutes a half marathon for the full. 81 runners registered for the full, and I was one of 50 for just the marathon. Nearly 1000 were to run the half marathon which started at the same time.
The expo was held in one of Hamilton’s top rated hotels, The Fairmont Hamilton Princess. It wasn’t really an expo, just 2 separate rooms where the bib then t-shirt were collected. Unusually we were issued with 2 bibs the instructions were for them to be attached to the front and back; but why?* Even more unusual was the front bib having 2 timing chips attached, no-one knew why.** The goodie bag stall for the marathon wasn’t manned, so I sorted out my own bag; not too difficult as there was only one with my size t-shirt!
The hotel chef started work at 6.00am and cooked the gluten free porridge I had brought with me. My OH had decided to come in for the start, getting up so early isn’t usually her thing, but the 4 hours time difference made it easy, we were both awake well before 6.00am. There wouldn’t be much for her to see, except the runners passing after the first circuit, then the finish. Most of the shops in Hamilton don’t open on Sunday, except those serving food. Being a bit of a foodie, the full Bermudian breakfast of salted codfish, boiled potatoes, banana, boiled egg and avocado (with a choice of sauce) was her obvious pick. It probably took as long to eat as it did me to run one circuit of the course.
We don’t usually take taxis but it was the only way to get to the start, the buses didn’t start running until 10.am, not because of any road closures, it’s just the way Bermuda works. There were 2 other runners staying in our hotel, one doing the full challenge, the other the half marathon. The start organisation was very relaxed, no pens, no particular starting order, just get yourself to where you are comfortable, but as the field was small this wasn’t a problem.
I have completed a number of half marathons where the full was run at the same time and involved going round the same course twice. In all of them I could not imagine being able to do the 2nd circuit. So as this was one of those, with 2 circuits of the island, I was very apprehensive before the start. And of course the number of runners decreased dramatically after the first lap such that there would be very few others to run with.
Over half of the course involved running with stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean, and the general consensus was that that course was hilly; undulating is a better description. I’m sure hardcore marathoners would say it is not a difficult course and during the 1st circuit I would certainly agree. Magically all of the gradients seemed to magnify 2nd time around, especially the major hill that occurs just before the 4/17 mile mark (McGall’s Hill?). And the course designer was cruel at the end of the circuit; as we were coming down into Front Street, with the finish line just coming into sight, there was a detour of 200m off at a right angle clearly needed to make up the distance. It would have been much kinder to have added this somewhere else in the course!
Weather conditions were much better than might have been expected. Those running the 10k on the previous day were almost drown! People I spoke to said they had found it difficult to get their trainers dry for the marathon. Locals said usually it is wet and windy for the whole weekend. It was sunny this year, with a moderate wind in our faces along the north shore
There were water and red Gatorade (ugh) stations every 2 miles, but no gels, fruit or sponges. Great support around the whole course for the first circuit, and in pockets during the 2nd circuit where Bermudians were clearly in party mood.
Checking times after finishing I was so pleased to have produced an almost 17 minutes pb (OK, from a low base in Athens), and my time for the first half was faster than my time in the Jerusalem half marathon 11 months previous.
Post scrip: 7 weeks after the race, the evening before I was due to fly out to my next marathon, I received an email from the organisers of the Bermuda Marathon informing me that they had a trophy to send to me for finishing 3rd in my age category! They arranged for it to get to me, so this is now sitting proudly with my medal. Thank you very much for taking the trouble to send it to me.
* The person that organised for me to get my trophy told me the back bib was so that runners of the half marathon could see, when behind a marathon runner, that it was not someone they were ‘competing’ against.
** The same person said the 2nd timing chip was a back-up, just in case the first one failed.