Bismarck Marathon 2014 – Race Report

Marathons: Paul #42, Leah #32, State #26 : Bismarck Marathon 2014
20th September 2014, Bismarck, North Dakota, USA
Finish Time = 4:22:13

Usually with marathons we fly in, spend some time exploring the city / sights, run the marathon and head home. Bismarck was the opposite way round. With a Saturday morning marathon we flew in on the Friday evening and made it to the expo within the last hour. Then straight to the hotel for sleep.

In the morning we drove over to the start which was well organized with an easy bag drop and plenty of portaloos. This was the first marathon where we were planning to run a little slower in the hope of reducing our recovery period, knowing we would have another just 7 days later.

The weather was nice, the sun was out but it wasn’t too hot. We set off on time and settled into the run.

Spot the Pipers

Spot the Pipers

A guy had some kind of flying drone thing which I think had a video camera mounted in it and he was flying it over us as we ran, presumably to record footage. It was funny as you would just suddenly hear a loud buzzing which sounded like a huge swarm of bugs coming for you.

Speaking of bugs, we had no idea how many mosquitos were going to be on this course. There wasn’t any mention of it on the website or in previous reviews and we later found out that it was an odd year where they had a lot of them. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many before. We ran through swarms of them. Luckily we had put some bug spray on that morning as we had noticed them stuck all over the white car we had rented, but Leah still got several huge bites. Luckily they seem to dislike British blood.

Trigger Happy TV Moment

We were trying to keep to a slower pace but it was hard not running in a way that felt natural, and it was also affecting our form which was becoming more sluggish than normal. We got to the half way point a few minutes over 2 hours, where we had to then turn around to run part of the route back the way we came. As we ran back past a woman her phone rang, which she then answered with a loud voice and said “HELLO?! …. NO! I’M RUNNING A MARATHON!!”, if you’re from the UK I’m sure you’ll appreciate the instant flashback I had to the days of Trigger Happy TV and Dom Jolly.

Once we hit 15 miles I was feeling like I would normally expect after around 20 miles. Even though our pace wasn’t that much slower than normal, thinking about being slower was making me plod heavier on my feet, impacting my legs more and just mentally thinking that I must run slower than normal was making it drag. The wind started picking up and eventually got pretty strong, we had read that it was going to be up to 20 mph that day. We were running through a nice pathway with autumn (fall) trees around us, the leaves were falling and as the wind was so strong it was battering us with leaves to the face! You definitely couldn’t help but notice that fall was “upon” us.

I put on some music for the last few miles to try to ignore the pain and eventually had to stop to stretch out my hamstrings. When we finally hit 26, we could see the finish ahead and sprinted towards the line. I’m not sure if it was the adrenaline, as often when you start running to the finish pain disappears, but running quickly felt far better than any of the previous running throughout the race!

South Dakota and now North Dakota, complete

South Dakota and now North Dakota, complete

Although we had finished around 25 minutes slower than usual it had been more painful than faster runs. It definitely didn’t work out how I expected.. back to the drawing board on how to run back-to-back weekend marathons.


After going back to the hotel to shower we then had the rest of the day ahead of us. We went over to the North Dakota Heritage Museum and had a look around. It was free to enter and had some really interesting exhibits on the native Indians and how they lived their lives back in those early days. We also went over to the State Capitol building. After that we got some great pizza and some of the best homemade ice-cream ever.


We finished the night with a bottle of Duck Horn Cab while watching a movie in our hotel room, it doesn’t get much better than that after a race.



Elevation Graph from my running watch:


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