by Chris Bishop, Dave Vona, and Nathan Laing
The big news for the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon and Hannaford Half other than finally being run after a pandemic pause was a change to the route for the MHR Marathon adding a hill in the beginning. I asked Dave Vona, who came 4th overall but first for the local runners in 2:32:30 with an 82.40% age graded performance how he felt about the race and the new course.
In terms of my reactions to the course, as you know, it was only the first 4 miles that changed. The vast majority of the course was exactly the same. So yes, I'd still say it's a downhill course and ideal Boston qualifier. There's no arguing that the first four miles are more difficult, but if anything, maybe it discourages people from starting out too fast. When the biggest hill on the course is before the 3-mile mark, it's hard to complain too much. I'm sure it must have some impact on people's finishing time, but I can't imagine it's overly significant. It's still the fastest course I've ever run.
Nathan Laing who is an HMRRC race veteran who came in 21st with a PR of 2:52:14 also commented on the new course and the race.
Having regularly incorporated hills into my training, the "new" hill, being so early in the race, required a simple pace adjustment which could be easily made up for later on with the net downhill(s).
A 7-minute PR was achieved at this year's MHR marathon (the MHR was also my first marathon in 2019 and my previous PR). In 2019, I met the infamous wall around mile 18-20. This year, I did not feel the same wall until nearly mile 22.
The day's successes came from a combination of factors; significant improvements to nutrition, perfect running weather the day of the race, and a well-executed and controlled plan that limited over-exertion early on to save energy for finishing miles (thanks to coach), combined with the excellent crowd support from friends and community members alike!
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