Marathons: Paul #33, Leah #23, State #18 : Little Rock Marathon 2014
2nd March 2014, Little Rock, Arkansas, USA
Finish Time = 3:51:27
So the point of running Southern State Marathons at the beginning of the year is you should get to run in warm, sunny conditions. But the crazy winter weather this year and Storm Titan had other ideas. When we arrived in Little Rock the day before the weather was nice. We went over to the expo to pick up our numbers and bags…
…and then we put on shorts to go out for a training run.
However, the next morning when we started the marathon it was already beginning to rain and the wind was cold. It’s depressing starting a marathon knowing you’re going to be out for 4 hours in miserable conditions, although we had no idea how bad it would get!
On a whim we grabbed some bin bags that the hotel were giving out, thinking we’d use them to keep ourselves dry while waiting in the starting corral. We didn’t realise just how important they would become.
The combination of being rained on and the cold wind meant that as we ran we progressively got colder, the opposite of what usually happens. When the rain was bad I would wear the bin bag, when it was just drizzling I wrapped it around one of my hands and arm, with my wristband over my other hand. It was the only way to try to keep the wind off my skin as I was only wearing a t-shirt. Leah wore her bin bag for the entire run. We later found out the temperature had dropped 20 degrees F (-7C) during the race.
At around 23 miles storm clouds came in, thunder started and the clouds just opened up. It absolutely poured down with rain and was so bad that we had police officers shouting out that the race had been cancelled and from now on we run at our own risk. We had visions of running all the way to the end to find it closed, with no official time or medal. It was bad enough having to run in these conditions but it would have been worse if it didn’t end up counting for anything! We picked up the pace, desperate to finish before it was too late.
After what felt like the longest 3 miles in absolute pouring rain we reached the finish line and were relieved to see it still open and the clock still going. We had completed another sub 4 State. We later found out that other people we know were pulled off the course at 18 miles and not allowed to finish. I can’t imagine how frustrating that would have been.
I couldn’t even feel my hands when we finished. We tried to pick up food but ended up heading straight back to the hotel. It took well over an hour to actually start warming up again. The misery didn’t end there, as that evening our flight home got cancelled due to the weather and we were stuck in Little Rock. The only way we even got a bed to sleep in that night was due to a kind couple we didn’t know who drove us to the crappy hotel the airline had put us in, but had no transport to, as the roads were too dangerous to drive on. Long story short, it ended up taking us over 24 hours to get back home, by which time I had to unpack, repack and fly back out for work.
Did we just do an Aquathlon?
In summary it was the most miserable marathon I’ve ever run. With the amount of rain that came down on us while running, if they had just given us bicycles at the end they could have made it a triathlon event. One item I missed off my packing list – goggles. And perhaps a wetsuit.
But if the weather had been good the event itself was well organised and it was a good course. On the positive side we still managed to achieve what we came to do: Completed a marathon in Arkansas and also the stretch goal of running it in under 4 hours.
I just hope we never have to run a marathon in conditions that miserable again!
Elevation Graph from my running watch:
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