“When you are weak, you are strong!” – Hatfield McCoy Marathon Weekend, Part 2

Team T-Rex woke up bright and early for the Hatfield McCoy Marathon on Saturday. Well, three quarters of Team T-Rex woke up bright and early. I didn’t wake up at all, because once again I didn’t sleep at all despite Kristen giving me half an Ambien. Fortunately, I am getting pretty used to running marathons on no sleep. We woke up at 5:15 so we could be out the door by 6. The race start was half an hour away, and it started at 7. None of us are really into getting to the starting line mega early, so we figured this was the perfect amount of time.

We figured wrong.

We parked the car, hopped on the shuttle, and got to the starting line by maybe around 6:40. The Maniacs picture was supposed to be taken at 6:45, so perfect! We started messing around and taking pictures with Devil Anse, because a pre-race photo with a historical figure is nothing short of perfection.

Kate and Amanda missed the “suggestive pre-race pose” memo.

They called for the Maniacs photo, which we were delighted to discover we had not missed for once!

Probably 25% of the runners were either Maniacs, 50 Staters, or Fanatics. Kind of excellent.

We all had to go to the bathroom after the picture, but the lines for the porta potties were forever long, so we decided to try and go into the grocery store (the race started in the parking lot) and use the bathrooms. Apparently we aren’t any smarter than anyone else, so we weren’t the only ones in there. As the start ticked closer and closer, Kate finally said she wasn’t going to miss the start and she would just stop along the course. Kristen, Amanda and I didn’t care about missing the start – yes, my pre-race prep is now THAT LAZY – so we watched as everyone ran out of the bathroom, leaving them open to us. Excellent.

So we started the race about 2 minutes after everyone else. Since there were so few runners, everyone had already gone and we run under the starting line like elite athletes, completely alone. Kristen pretty much took off like someone who hasn’t figured out pacing yourself during a race a bat out of hell right away while Amanda and I went straight to our comfortable pace and stayed there, steadily catching up to all the walkers, walk/runners, and slower runners. I told Amanda not to worry about Kristen running a lot faster than us because we would see her eventually. I wasn’t saying that to be mean, I just know my Pea. We must have passed about 300 people in the first two miles of the race. I have never felt so fast in my life.

You know you’re a slow runner when you don’t mind missing the start of the race because it means you actually get to pass someone for a change.

Early on, I decided to adopt my friend Sally’s tradition of taking a picture at every mile marker along the course. Amanda and I had decided to stick together no matter what for the whole race, so we had nothing but time – literally, since the race had no time limit. We were both so excited about the race, so we just wanted to have fun and take a bajillion pictures. Mission accomplished. Don’t worry, I won’t make you look at every single mile marker picture.

I knew the race would be interesting when around mile 2.5, we passed a pony standing in the bed of a pick up truck.

If you have a cage for your pony in the bed of your truck…you might be a redneck.

I mean, who does this? Isn’t this what horse trailers are for? I had so many questions, but we were busy running or whatever. We caught up to Kristen again a little after mile 4, as predicted. She laughed and said “I bet you guys were taking bets back there on how long it would take me to burn out.” Looks like she knows me pretty well too.

It’s never too early in the race for a Tebow hamstring stretch.

One of the coolest things about the course was that as it crossed back and forth between West Virginia and Kentucky, you got to see many of the actual sites where different events in the Hatfield-McCoy feud took place. Obviously I stopped and read every single historical marker and took pictures of them.

The level of geekiness reached an all time high during this race. I am such a nerd.

The course is known for being tough, but the toughest part is a long hill called “Blackberry Mountain.” Let me tell you, people in Kentucky do not stint when it comes to talking about mountains. Kristen was already complaining about her legs feeling heavy when we caught up to her at mile 4, and the hill began at mile 6 and was said to last until 8.5, or so we thought. Amanda and I chugged ahead and every once in awhile I would turn around and run backwards and yell to Kristen to keep going while she envisioned murdering me in her mind.

Damn you Blackberry Mountain!!

We took a short walk break at mile 7 because we couldn’t imagine running up the mountain for another 1.5 miles. Little did we know that we were actually almost at the top of it! Amanda and I were a little disappointed because if we had known that the summit of the great peak was that close, we would totally have kept running, but oh well. Unfortunately at this point some parts of the road were very narrow and not closed off to traffic, so we had nowhere to run. I saw my life flash before my eyes at least 4 times, not unlike when I took my first cab ride in New York.

Good thing I started my diet before this race! Jeez.

Eventually Kristen stopped crying we started descending down the mountain, all feeling quite pleased with ourselves. It was at this point that I realized how critically unfair half marathons are. At mile 8, we had just made it through the toughest hill on the course, but Amanda and I weren’t even a third of the way done. Kristen, meanwhile, had 5 miles to go. My grandmother can run 5 miles. Or at least power walk them. Thus, I drew the obvious conclusion that half marathoners are intellectually superior to marathoners.

What hill?

After the mountain/hill/torture chamber, Kristen was feeling pretty bad, so sometimes we ran with her and sometimes we ran ahead while she walked. Along the way, we saw what is probably not a true world record holder – Sparky, the world’s smallest horse. Allegedly.

Sparky and his clubbed feet live in someone’s front yard in Goody, KY.

We ran past a yard with a sign in it proclaiming that Sparky, the world’s smallest horse, lived there. He is 17 inches tall, 23 inches long, and other measurements as well. So there you have it. The world’s smallest horse lives in Goody, Kentucky. And now you know.

One of my favorite parts of the whole race came at Mile 10, when we reached the Moonshine Stop. It featured an elaborate setup and all the volunteers were wearing overalls. One man was covered in coal dust and I can’t decide if he is actually a miner and has the Black Lung or if he just dressed up for the occasion. It’s too hard to say.

God I miss my overalls. And the 90s.

I loved this race so much because they basically wrote my blog for me. “Here, you want a million things to take pictures of so you don’t even have to write anything? Here you go.”

The beauty of running slow is that moonshine doesn’t affect your performance. Please note the baby in the playpen near the man with the possible black lung.

Kristen went even further downhill after that and was hate spiraling even worse than usual. I run with her a lot, so I’m pretty used to her grumbling, but she was exceptionally whiny even for her. Hey, I’ve been there. I’m there pretty much every marathon. Amanda and I mostly trotted along ahead in a feeble attempt to pull her along with us, since it was clear that if we stopped and walked with her she was never going to start running again. At one point she told us to go ahead and leave her – I think around mile 12. But I know Kristen, and I know she would have sat down right in the middle of the road and pouted for awhile before walking to the finish line, so that wasn’t happening. So I hit her with some our inspirational verse from the tiny Bible. “WHEN YOU ARE WEAK, YOU ARE STRONG! SAY IT!”

What you can’t see in this picture is the unspeakable hate which Kristen is spewing at me in her mind for not leaving her to sit down in the road.

The half marathon finished in historic Matewan, WV, which was a really cute little town. It was pretty cool because we literally got to run across the finish line with Kristen and then keep going instead of having to turn off before the finish like we normally do. I have never seen someone look so angry at the end of race with the possible exception of me after the Bataan Memorial Death March. Normally she looks happy crossing the finish line, at least, but not this time. I think our mile photo at mile 13 was a good indicator of her feelings.

Only a tenth of a mile to go! Suck it up.

Amanda and I were in great spirits and running a little faster than 5 hour pace, so we kept chugging along , chatting, and taking in the sights. Along the course, there had been little signs made for all of the runners who had done the race before and had returned to do it again. So imagine my surprise when I saw my very own sign, considering I’ve never done the race!

I felt so welcome, yet so confused.

I eventually realized that the confusion probably occurred because I was signed up for the marathon back in 2010 when I broke my hip. I tried to defer my entry, but apparently they never got the memo, so they thought I was a returning runner. Perhaps I shall do this more often so that I can get signs at other races! Race directors, if you’re listening, please make all signs out to “T-Rex Runner” in the future. I’m changing my name legally, Metta World Peace/Chad Ochocinco style, as soon as possible.

Around this time, I also got to swing on a tire swing that was hanging from a tree at a local fishing hole. I cannot make this stuff up.

Most fun I’ve ever had at a marathon, hands down.

It’s also worth mentioning that the course was absolutely beautiful. It wound all through the mountains and next to the Tug River and the occasional coal mine. I absolutely fell in love with this part of the country, and I left thinking that the people who live there are very, very lucky. They may not have a real mall, but they have nature, and that is so much better.

Amanda in front of the Tug River, or possibly some other river.

You might right now be thinking that it sounds like I am doing really well in this race. I’m having a good time, nothing appears to be hurting, I haven’t thrown up on anyone. Well, it was only a matter of time. The course turned onto a dirt and gravel road for a few miles, which violated my strict NO TRAILS policy that was instituted after Bataan. A little ways after that, past mile 16, it became impossible for me to bend my right knee. Try running up hills without the ability to bend your knee. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

The last happy photo. Appropriately, I chose to do the sprinkler.

This was pretty much the end of my good feelings. Amanda’s feet had started to really bother her, so we were both perfectly happy with walk/running for the rest of the race. We were having the best time talking to all the volunteers and the people we met along the way. One of the very interesting things about this race was that all of the volunteers and spectators only wanted to know one thing – “where are you from?” They were fascinated to hear where people had come from to run this race in their little towns. We literally had people sitting on their porches that would yell to us as we ran by and ask us where we were from. It was clear that the runners mean a lot to the area and that the locals truly embrace this race, not just tolerate it like some towns do.

The race is famous for having runners cross over a swinging bridge. I had heard about it and I didn’t think it would be that bad. Oh no, that shit swings. It is serious. Amanda and I ran across it out of sheer principle, but it was a little scary.

We’re smiling because we hadn’t tried to cross the bridge yet.
I don’t have a story to go with this picture, I just really like it.

At Mile 19, we met the nicest volunteers in a race ever. I know, I know, I said the nicest ones were in Minnesota. Those people are REALLY nice, but this was on a new level. They had a little tent set up with fruit, all different flavors of Gatorade, etc, and as soon as they saw Amanda and I coming, they started cheering. Exactly what you need at Mile 19! They asked us where we were from, of course, and we stayed and chatted awhile and ate grapes. I don’t even really like grapes, but I really liked them right then. Maybe I just didn’t want to run anymore.

The last 6 miles felt like they took just as long as the entire first 20. It just wouldn’t end! I met a lot of great Maniacs though, including Vrnda the “Boom Box” who sings during races. She had run Columbia and saw me on the course and apparently I inspired her to be a Maniac because I looked like I was having so much fun! That’s one of the best compliments I have ever received 🙂 While talking to the surrounding Maniacs, and I overheard a woman say that she was from New Jersey.

Me: “I heard you say you’re from New Jersey. What part? That’s where my boyfriend is from.”

Lady: “Do you know Jersey? Central part.”

Me: “No, I just went there after the Delaware Marathon. He’s from Edison so we went into the city and then stayed there.”


Clearly they didn’t know each other, but I found it quite delightful that the only town I know of in New Jersey is where this lady was from.

Attempting the Dave Mari jump at Mile 20. I look like a flying hunchback.

My back was absolutely killing me by this point and Amanda felt the same way about her feet, so we started setting verrrryyy small goals. Like, run to the next electrical pole, walk to the one after that. That kind of thing. We were still in great spirits because we were having so much fun, but we were ready for the fun to end. ASAP. So we just kept repeating “when you are weak, you are strong!” over and over. Hey, a mantra is a mantra, even if it comes out of a tiny Bible.

We did decide that we were going to run from Mile 25 to the end – or pull a “Cupido,” as my friend Anders has named it. Yup, that’s right. The last 1.2 miles are now officially named after me. I didn’t name it, he did. It’s in Swedish Runner’s World.

It seemed like we would never, ever see this sign.

I’m pretty sure Amanda seriously regretted telling me she would run the whole last 1.2 though. In fact I know she did. But we passed a hell of a lot of people in the last 1.2 miles, and we made a game out of it. We just took a picture of mile 26 as we ran by with blinding speed. And the race director himself was out at mile 26 directing traffic. It’s just that kind of race.

We cruised into downtown Williamson and all of the spectators on both sides were cheering in all the runners, which was a great feeling, because you could tell many were locals who had come out just for this. Amanda and I held hands crossing the finish line, of course, and as I looked to my left, I saw Kristen standing in line for food looking like a freaking supermodel. Seriously, I was literally crossing the finish line thinking “holy shit, her hair looks AMAZING!” Turns out she didn’t even wash it after the race.

I know she ran the half and not the full, but whose hair looks like that ever? Ugh.

Kate had just finished a few minutes before Amanda and I did, so we all got in line to get our mason jars that had our actual finisher’s place on them. I LOVED this idea, but the execution was the only fatal flaw in the whole race, because you had to stand in line in the hot sun for half an hour after finishing a marathon to get the jar. We eventually made it up to the front of the line. My only goal had been to have finished in place 299 or higher. I figured with 312 runners in the race, this was an achievable goal. No seriously. But Amanda and I were 188 and 189!! Better than my wildest dreams.

I was literally at the table collecting my jar when all of a sudden the woman behind me started shaking and almost fell over. I grabbed her arm, asked her if she was ok, and the woman next to her yelled “MEDIC!” We had been handed cold wet towels so I put mine on her forehead and steadied her while another runner grabbed a chair. Then we all started dumping our water bottles on her as the medics came over. It was about 80 by the time the race was over, so pretty warm, and I think she was overheated. The medics took her away and I think she was ok, but it was scary! I’m glad I’ve avoided that so far.

My ‘shine jar and medal

Team T-Rex made it back to the hotel with literally 2 minutes to spare until we had to checkout, so I sweet talked the lady at the front desk into giving us 15 more minutes because we NEEDED to shower. We jumped in the car and headed on our way home, all happy and tired and sore, except Kristen, who was possibly just tired and sore. Kristen is one of those people who literally wants to stop at every single roadside attraction on a road trip, so she begged us to stop at the Natural Tunnel State Park on the way home. I got overruled, obviously, so we went.

Kristen: “Hi! So, what does the park involve? Like, can we drive through the tunnel?

Park Ranger: “No, you drive your car up to the lot and then you can hike to the trail or take a gondola.”

Kristen: “Oh, we have to walk? Nevermind.”

Team T-Rex only runz and drivez, we never walkz.

We all got a frozen yogurt craving, so we decided to stop and grab some on the way home. We were all wearing matching shirts, and every place we had stopped so far, we had attracted a lot of attention. Possibly because the shirts were neon orange. So what’s a Team to do? Take a picture in the fro-yo place, of course.

You know you want to run with us.

Overall, it was an awesome trip. I absolutely loved everything about this race. I can’t say enough about it. If you run, you better run this race. If you don’t run, you better start so you can run this race. It is the most fun I’ve ever had over 26.2 miles, and that’s saying something, because I have a lot of fun during marathons. So that got me thinking that I just need to only run races that have these kinds of reviews and this kind of praise. Why settle for anything less?

Seriously. Do this race.

And now, runners, walkers, etc, tell me  your favorite marathon or half marathon. Sell me on it. I’ve got 2013 to start thinking about. Leave me a comment and tell me where I should run next year. We’ll hang. It will be fun. Everyone else, you can leave me a comment about whatever you want. Maybe about how you think I look thinner. However the Lord moves you.

48 thoughts on ““When you are weak, you are strong!” – Hatfield McCoy Marathon Weekend, Part 2

  1. This race was already on my “hope to do” list but because of your report it has moved to my “must do in 2013” list.

    I highly recommened the marathon in Steamboat Springs, CO for you to get CO out the way. Fantastic race, beautiful scenery. I’ll have pics up on facebook shortly…including me looking like a T-rex (unintentionally) while running. I blame your blog for this. 🙂

    1. Excellent! I don’t have a race picked out for Colorado yet, so thanks for the tip. Maybe we can make running like a T-Rex a national running trend!

  2. Why don’t you do Grandfather Mountain in a few weeks? There are still a few spots left and you can stay in the dorm for cheap. Hatfield-McCoy has been a perfect training run for me to get ready. Don’t let it intimidate you, the worst climbs are in the first 10 miles and there are a lot of flat landers that run it every year. Here is a link and let me know if you need any more info. I will be doing it for my fifth time. http://www.hopeformarrow.org/gmminfo.htm

    1. Thanks Phillip! I thought about doing it since it is so close to me, but I will be going to Missoula this year instead and the races are on the same day. I will definitely keep it in mind for next year though!

  3. This race sounds awesome! Especially after recently watching the Hatfield/McCoy mini series on the History Channel, it’s definitely getting added to my list of need to run!

  4. “Thus, I drew the obvious conclusion that half marathoners are intellectually superior to marathoners.” -> So true, it took you this long to figure it out? 🙂

    I haven’t read through your whole history to see if you’ve done this one yet but I know from reviews from friends I’m dying to do the Disney Princess. What’s better than running in Disney and getting a tiara?

    1. I’ve never done the Disney Princess race but I did do the Disney Marathon last year and I think the course is the same. I did not get a tiara though, so I might have to do that one year. It would be so fun! I could finish a race without having a medical emergency since it would be over after 13.1 miles…what a concept!

  5. I wasn’t waiting for food when you crossed the finish line, I was sopping up the lake that was in my purse from the water bottle spilling inside it!! Get it right, yo. I had been waiting for you FOR-E-VER and you come strolling in the one time I turn my back. RUDE. 🙂

  6. This ‘race’ totally had me fooled…were you running or playing?? Ha ha just kidding, it’s good to know there are nice people in the world, even nicer than in Minnesota! Also, please inform me of your 2013 race plans. I think I already have my January-April planned out…I think.

    1. I’m headed to the Mississippi Blues Marathon in Jackson, MS on January 5 but that’s all I know so far! Of course I’ll be doing the Columbia (SC) Marathon on March 9 in my hometown but that is pretty much all I know right now. What do you have scheduled?

  7. I wish I could adopt your method of running. Even when your body breaks down and life sucks, you seem to be having the time of your life. When I run these races, I’m too focused on exertion, splits, energy levels and other metrics of performance that I often forget that this is supposed to be fun. Alas, alas.

    Also, who doesn’t like grapes? They’re the most benign foodstuff ever.

    Lastly, my favorite race is the ING Miami Half Marathon. I’ve run it three times and love the hell out of it for too many reasons to count. I’ve never done the marathon because I don’t think I could handle 26.2 miles in Miami’s humidity, but nonetheless, I’m sure it’s a fantastic race as well. As a caveat though, I’ve heard that the second half isn’t nearly as festive and energetic as the first.

    1. It’s funny, because sometimes I wish I could adopt YOUR method of running! I sometimes feel like I’m not living up to my potential as a runner since I never actually try and run fast anymore. That being said, I don’t think I would like running as much if I had that kind of pressure on myself. Maybe you could try and run for fun every once in awhile! I’ll be in Chicago, so run with me and we’ll hang. It will be good times.

      I actually was born in Miami and grew up in South Florida and my parents still live there. I thought about doing the marathon last year, but the humidity seemed miserable, so maybe I will do the half. Thanks for the suggestion!

  8. I did the half marathon this year with a couple of friends. One of whom was doing her first half. I am definitely coming back next year too! Seriously….I don’t even have to blog about the race now…I’ll just send everyone to you….you are WAY more entertaining. LOL!

    1. If you did the half, that means you missed the swinging bridge! Again proving that half marathoners are intellectually superior. You should definitely do the full!!! I will probably be back next year. And please send everyone over to my blog! I am going to check out yours!

  9. I see that you will be doing the Mississippi Blues in January!!! That’s my (unfortunate) neck of the woods, but not by choice! Hubby made me move down here because of his job! The Blues is a great time. By far my favorite race, not because of the course or anything (because there is really nothing in Jackson to see), but the volunteers are friendly (they thank YOU for being there), I know TONS of people that do it, and I paced some first timers this past year! And the 2011 Blues medal is my favorite medal in my collection. Excited to see what 2012 will look like!

    The H and M marathon looks super fun. I’ll have to add that to 2013 if possible.

    1. Awesome! I’m looking forward to seeing you there! I have heard such great things about the race and I need a Mississippi marathon, so it’s a no-brainer for me! I’m mad at myself for missing the early registration blitz but oh well. See you in January!

      DEFINITELY do Hatfield-McCoy! You will not regret it.

      1. With the exception of Marine Corps, all the maonhtras I’ve done have been at a location I wanted to visit great excuse to get to go somewhere and see a new city!San Diego, San Francisco, Nashville, Twin Cities and my big trips: Dublin and Athens.I like when the race is right away and then I can kick back and enjoy the rest of my vacay without stressing about how much I’m walking around or what I’m eating and drinking. All have been really cool experiences!

  10. I really enjoyed reading your race review! It’s too bad you ran White Rock for Texas, because the Houston Marathon is outstanding! Great course, great volunteers and spectators, and before the start and after you finish you get to be INDOORS (at the George R. Brown Convention Center). When you’re running your SECOND 50 states, give it a try!

    1. Thank you Susan! I have heard fantastic things about the Houston Marathon so it is definitely one I will keep my eye on for the next time around. Texas is one of those states with so many marathons that it is hard to choose! It’s funny how some states have so many great ones and some states have so few. Unfair!

  11. A social Marathon there you Run together in group in different paces, wishing people you pass a happy new year & the registration fee goes to charity.
    I noticed that their homesite at the moment is down for service:
    So go to Copenhagen 31/12 2013 and celebrate!
    Only 30 minutes by train fr.o.m. your friend Anders home of land-Sweden ;0)
    With Warme Running Love

    1. Wow! What a cool trip that would be! Now I just have to convince my boyfriend that running a marathon in Denmark would be a really, really, really fun way to ring in the New Year!

  12. Casper Wyoming is another FABULOUS run! Small field, incredibly hospitable and friendly staff and volunteers and a finish line / MEAL that is outstanding! I highly recommend it!!!

    1. Thanks Lis! I do not have a Wyoming race picked out yet, so I really appreciate the suggestion! I absolutely love Wyoming so that will be a hard state for me to do just once. I think that’s why I’m putting it off!

  13. TRex, thanks for the blog and photos! My awesome family signed me up for H-M with 4 days’ notice, drove me 7.5 hours to Louisa, KY overnight Friday, then slept in at the hotel while I drove down through the dark mountains for an hour to the start. I echo all you say about the scenery, the community, and the volunteers. This was by far my favorite half marathon (favorite full is Disney). On top of that, I rounded up the family afterwards and we had the best Saturday ever touring the feud sites and talking to people at the festival. As the History channel mini-series reveals, the story itself is tragic but fascinating, and the setting is gorgeous. For those thinking of running this, DO take the extra time to be a tourist before or after (Marathoner warning: You have to hike up a steep dirt trail to visit Devil Anse’s grave, but the setting is something you’ll never forget).

    Some of my own moments from H-M: Blackberry Mountain was a bear, but it sure felt great coming down the back side of it! Also, I’m not exaggerating to say that in my 13.1 I was barked at by approximately 100 different dogs. Definitely a PR. Favorite moment was when a deer popped out of the creek and ran between me and another runner, passing about 20 yards in front of me. Afterward, when touring, the family that lives on the McCoy home site actually waved our car onto their driveway, then tour-guided us to the well Randell himself had dug there. Also, there were souvenirs a-plenty at the Coal House one block down from the finish. Hope you found those…

    Finally, I’ll put in a plug for the Illinois Marathon in Champaign-Urbana, my hometown. It’s only 5 years old but has grown huge and gets rave reviews for organization, volunteer support, and good flat road running through towns and neighborhoods. Run in early May.

    Whoa. Lengthy post. Sorry. Anyway, thanks again for your blog. Hope to see you and other maniacs out at something else soon. Stay well!

    1. Wow! It sounds like you really got the full Hatfield-McCoy experience and made the most out of a last minute trip. I do kind of wish we had taken the time to do all of those touristy things. Maybe next year, since I’m pretty sure Team T-Rex will be back!

      I have heard excellent things about the Illinois Marathon, but I am doing Chicago as my Illinois race. I know, I know, so cliche. I’ll remember Illinois for my second tour of the states…sad that I’m already planning that. Thank you for commenting!

  14. I’ve been meaning to comment, but I loved this one — seriously, this race report reads more like a madcap scavenger hunt, as opposed to a serious physical endeavor THAT THE VAST MAJORITY OF SOCIETY CANNOT COMPLETE. Major props. As far as my two favorite marathons that I’ve run, you’re already doing Chicago and Marine Corps in 2012, so I am fairly useless here as far as recommendations go. If you’re still looking for an Ohio race, the Air Force Marathon in Dayton is a very well-run race which I did in 2011, and significantly less hate-spirally than the Bataan Death March. It takes place mostly on Wright-Patterson AFB (it also goes out into the surrounding city for parts), and there are jet flyovers pretty much the whole time, which provides more than ample opportunity to make Top Gun references the whole time. Each year they pick a different featured military plane to put on the medal and all the race merch, and I’m actually bummed that I’m missing out on the stealth bomber medal for 2012.

    The one marathon that has reached “must-run” status for me in 2013 is the Niagara Falls Marathon (http://www.niagarafallsmarathon.com/), which claims to be “the only marathon in the world that starts in one country and finishes in another.” In addition to finishing at NIAGARA F***ING FALLS, the race organizers point out in very bold font that the race is also a Boston Qualifier, because that is very important for people like you and I.

    1. Shit, a BOSTON QUALIFIER? I’ve been looking for one of those. Just waiting to find one so I can qualify and stuff.

      I can absolutely get behind this race for 2013. I like where your head’s at. I’ll put it on the spreadsheet as my international debut. I like Niagara Falls, and it will make me think of Jim and Pam’s wedding episode from the Office which makes me laugh every time.

      Ugh, I really wanted to do Air Force this year but I’m not smart and I didn’t realize it was going to sell out that fast and now I can’t do it. So that will be my September 2013 race, although I’ll still be pissed about being in Ohio. I appreciate the suggestion though because I’ve gotten a lot of Ohio recommendations.

      1. There’s a good chance I’ll be running Air Force again in 2013 — I bonked really hard at Mile 22 last year, and I want another crack at it. I have an admittedly weird thing about not letting any courses “beat” me without me getting some redemption, which is probably why I’ve run Traverse City four times even though I don’t live in Michigan. Plus, fighter jets are awesome. In the interests of full disclosure that you won’t get from the race organizers, there are 2 things that bear mention:

        1.) Outside of the surprisingly festive/buoyant aid stations, there isn’t much in the way of crowd support when you’re on the base, which is where 80-85% of the race is run. This makes sense because, you know, it’s probably not in the best interests of national security to have a bunch of randoms milling about a massive Air Force Base that houses millions of dollars’ worth of jets and weapons. So, know that going in.
        2.) They have tons of parking in the field on the base, but it’s pretty far away from the starting line– again, this makes sense, because they can’t possibly check each car for big guns or bombs or other nasty things, so it makes sense to keep the cars parked far away from the jets and weapons. You won’t notice the long walk on the way in, but you WILL notice the walk on the way back to your car.

        That being said, the Air Force Marathon also has the single-largest congregation of port-o-potties near the starting area that I’ve ever seen anywhere, and I’m including outdoor concert festivals when I say this. There was a small group of 4 port-o-potties with massively long lines when you get about halfway from your car to Gear Check, but on the other side of Gear Check, there was a massive assembly of 100+ port-o-potties, with no lines to speak of whatsover. This may not be a big sell for others, but it was pretty glorious.

  15. Sounds like a fun time! I’m definitely planning on doing the half in 2013. I did the Mayor’s Half Marathon in Anchorage AK this summer and it was very nice. I highly recommend it. I’d have to say my favorite ever was Disney World in January of 2010 because of all the Disney characters etc. but it’s awfully frickin crowded.

    1. You MUST do it! Hatfield-McCoy is awesome. Nothing like Disney World, of course, but a really great experience nonetheless! I did the Disney Marathon this past year and while I really enjoyed it, it’s never going to happen again.

  16. found your blog a few wks ago while looking up info about this race. convinced a friend to sign up – it’ll be my first full…i’m trying to figure out how we can incorporate overalls into our attire. 🙂

  17. OK, this is weird. I am fascinated by this race so I was reading your (awesome!) recap. Then I got to the part where you met the woman from Edison and I was like: whoah, that is where I live (although I am in Colorado now for the summer-long story). So imagine me there with the 2 of you dancing about Edison, NJ. What a world.

  18. I just love this race report! I have read all 3 of your Hatfield McCoy race reports and this is my favorite. I am running Hatfield McCoy for the first time this year. I elected to do it as a double half since I am working toward running a half in every state. So excited!!

    1. Thanks, Nicole! You are going to LOVE Hatfield McCoy! I hate that I cannot make it this year, but you will have the best time! Enjoy every step of the way.

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