|I, training in Ontario, Canada|
Travelling by bus to the start line was good in that we had the chance to analyse to route that we would be using to run the first 20km. It was frightening at the same time as we noticed it was taking long for the bus to reach the starting point, yet that would just be less than half the distance we would be covering while running.
By 6:30 we were already at the starting point. There was a sea of athletes warming up and it was turning out to be a bigger race than we had imagined it would be, being an inaugural one. The villagers had turned out in large numbers to witness the race, and more were brought by the arrival of not just one, but two choppers. There was a heavy presence of security personnel on the ground and we understood why when the deputy president himself showed up and began warming up as well with other senior government officials.
The women were called to assemble at the starting line, so I left my wife to quickly change as I continued to jog. A short speech and the women were off. 30 minutes later and it was our turn. Things were happening much faster, I felt I needed some more time for a short call, but the gun was already pointed at the sky, then off we went.
I was happy to go in a relaxed pace as I had planned the race to be a normal long run for me and it was amazing to see the sea of athletes ahead of me already opening up a long stretch on the road with the red light of the clock that was mounted on the lead car marking the end of the stretch at the front. Soon, after the first one and half kilometres, I started overtaking some athletes who had gone too fast at the beginning. It was a great feeling. Some would stick with me for a while before they would let me pass them. The course was a net uphill from the start up to about 18km and was glad to have not been able to hear my watch peeping, which meant I was safely within the range of 3:25/km pace that I had set. After a slight downhill towards the town, we soon joined the highway going into the opposite direction as the leading ladies when they crossed the 30km mark. I met my wife around there for the first time and we gave each other thumbs up. She looked OK.
The journey became tougher at the 29km mark as we slowly climbed the slope back to town. By 30km, it began feeling like a really tough race as many athletes began dropping out. We were beginning another climb out of town again, which was both challenging physically and psychologically. I was able to hold my pace to a decent speed, but it was no longer an easy task as thoughts of dropping started to grip in. But, at around the 37km, we reached the end of the hill and it was now a relatively flatter course back to town. That was the point I learnt that I was going to finish the race. I saw my wife at a distance ahead of me. An ambulance was slowly following her and I knew she must have been getting tempted to get into it, so I quickened my steps a little hoping to get to her before she could stop. Luckily for me, the ambulance stopped and I was able to reach my wife first, slowed down a little and I told her she only had slightly over 2km to finish her first marathon and to just keep going at her own pace. I told her I would be waiting at the finish line and proceeded ahead.
After the 41km mark, a lot of people started lining the street as I neared the finish line; some were calling out my name. I could recognise others, but was too tired to keep looking around as the last few hundred meters seemed quite endless. I increased my pace a little as I saw the finish line with 195 meters to go. With excitement, I finally crossed the finish line of another marathon!
I wanted to stop just at the finish line to wait for my wife, but more athletes were coming in and the officials needed to clear the finish line for the medical staff and to be able to give out the positions to the coming athletes. So, I went ahead out of the finish area and waited at the end of the finishing chute. It was taking slightly longer than I had expected her to arrive and was beginning to get worried.