On Sunday, October 15, we did the Niagara Falls International Marathon. This was our second, and final, marathon of 2017 (and our second total).
Registration Cost: We were on the fence about registering for this race, due to having completed our first marathon in the end of May. Once we decided to enter, the race registration was about $100 (USD) by the time we were done (tax and processing fees), though we did have a $10 coupon code.
Packet Pick-Up: We went to the expo on the afternoon before the race, located at a convention center in Niagara Falls. Getting there was pretty quick and easy, even with crossing the border. It cost $5 to park for the event, but they did make change (in Canadian coins) for the currency exchange, which was unexpected.
For the marathon, we needed to show our passports to border crossing guards before picking up our numbers. This allowed us to cross the Peace Bridge from Buffalo, NY to Fort Erie, Ontario during the race. The process was very quick and easy, with the guards just checking the passports.
The numbers also needed to be scanned to verify our information and (maybe?) activate the timing chips. Shirt pick-ups were done at a separate table, but that also went easily. An exchange table was available if needed for a different size.
We browsed some in the expo, which included trying some shoes. We ended up leaving without any purchases.
Pre-Race: We had a friend pick us up and take us to the race start location, near the Albright-Knox Art Museum. This was because we had left a car on the NY side of Niagara Falls on our way to packet pick-up. Getting dropped off made it so we only needed to retrieve one car 🙂
The museum had a lobby open for people to enter, but they couldn’t get further into the building. Porta-potties on the lawn were the only option for restroom facilities. The pre-race area had bottled water, bananas, and some donut holes available. There was also a lot of room to wander as this is near the Delaware Park area in Buffalo, with some pond-side seating.
Course: The course was pretty well-marked, with volunteers and/or police officers at most of the intersections. The roads were mostly closed throughout, as well. The highlight was getting to run across the Peace Bridge, therefore crossing an international border en route. This was probably the only time we will do that–especially with the border guards out applauding for us as we crossed.
Charcoal’s big excitement on the Peace Bridge was seeing a tractor-trailer full of celery! She wanted to chase that with peanut butter 😀 (Violet didn’t have as exciting of a time there… just ran across, even though it was time for a walk-break! It seemed fitting to run across and not walk until getting to the other side!)
Once we were in Canada, the course went mostly along the Niagara River and Parkway. This provided a scenic route that was relatively flat, too. The roads were a bit slanted in the earlier portions of the race, which we felt in our knees and ankles for a while. Overall, it was a good course that offered some scenic areas in both Buffalo and the Niagara-Fort Erie region of Ontario.
The aid stations had several volunteers. The offerings included water, Nuun, and Clif Blocks (at some); toward the end of the race, some of the water stations had run out of water. The stations’ spacing was about every 2km. Near the end, one of the stations had bananas and oranges available. At the half-way point, one of the stations had baby wipes available.
Porta-potties were available along the way. There were also some musical performers along the way and some crowd support, but not as many spectators as there are at some other races.
Finish Line: There was an announcer at the finish line and crowd support for the final turn. The announcer left at 6 hours on the dot. There were mylar-type blankets handed out right after crossing the finish line, along with the medals. Water and cartons of chocolate milk were also given in the finishers’ chute.
Post-Race: There were bagels, Nuun, and more bottled water near the finishing area. A tent with results, awards, and beer was nearby. Tim Horton’s was one of the race’s sponsors and was giving away coffee and hot chocolate near the finish line as well.
At the end, they were trying to clear out some of the extras so we ended up with a couple spare bags of bagels and a case of water. We were offered bananas, but declined due to having to cross the border with them (U.S. customs is fussy with produce)!
Weather: This was a challenging element! In the week leading up to the race, the weather reports had been forecasting a warm, windy day with an 80% chance of rain! By last night, the forecasts were predicting temperatures in the upper 70s with a wind advisory from 2-11pm. The rain was supposed to roll through with a thunderstorm in the late afternoon. This made deciding what to wear a tough call.
Apparel: Charcoal wore a pair of C9 compression shorts with Nike running shorts and a tank top, with an Old Navy 1/4-zip shirt for the first 4ish-km (after that she rolled it up and tied it around her waist). For shoes, she wore Saucony iSO Triumphs with Balega socks. She also used her Nathan Trail Mix water belt, her Roo Sports pocket, and a running cap.
Violet wore Marika compression shorts with Asics pocket shorts over them (with the pockets full of nutrition), a mesh-backed tank top, with another C9 tank top over it. She had a zip-up long-sleeved shirt that she got from the Salvation Army to wear and toss when it got too warm–this morning, that was at the first mile! Her footwear included injinji 2.0 women’s toesocks and Saucony Guide 10 shoes. She also carried her Nathan ExoShot bottle.