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#11 – Yuma Territorial Marathon

Marathon Man with Tom Podruchny

26 January 2013 – 4 hrs 38 min

Following a few days at the Stratosphere Hotel in Las Vegas to take care of domestic duties such as washing, and to rest a little following a busy Triple Crown Marathon schedule in San Francisco, it was soon time to get back on the road towards the marathon mission that would take me towards the Yuma Territorial Marathon. The drive to Yuma ended up taking me more than 6 hours with the guidance of iPhone Maps.

I had been pushing to make the pasta dinner and registration on Friday night, although with rain falling it was soon clear that this would not happen. I arrived into Yuma close to 9pm and found my way to the Olive Garden Italian Restaurant for a late night pre-marathon lasagne. It was nice to find people all in the swing of a fun Friday night out after such a long drive through nothing but desert. The greeter who guided me to the table was fascinated by my accent and revealed that she was looking to travel to Australia.

Marathon Man - Yuma Territorial Marathon Start

Another pre-dawn start

The priority was for a quick meal, to recharge the drained battery of my iPhone following the use of the maps for guidance, and then find the hotel and get some rest prior to a very early start. The Olive Garden is a chain of restaurants in the USA and this was a positive first impression with the food quality quite good and fair value.

The hotel was thought to be close by and I soon found a supermarket to top up on supplies with liquids and snacks the priority for pre race and then the drive to Phoenix Airport following the marathon. The hotel booking for the Knights Inn & Suites had been completed online, and when looking for the address the hotel was nowhere to be seen!

Following a number of trips up and down the street both my frustration and the intensity of the rain was building. After the long drive the urgency to get sleep was at the front of my mind as every minute that ticked by was a moment of sleep lost.

I finally stopped into a hotel to ask for guidance and was told simply the street number of the hotel was clearly written on the building. The clerk was very pleased with this information. Seriously!!!

I ventured across the road to a nicer looking hotel and was told that my hotel was just down the road, and that there was a large yellow sign that looked like a castle. I finally stopped into another hotel and found a little Indian man who mentioned it was across the street.

Marathon Man - Yuma Territorial Marathon

Celebrating at Yuma Territorial Marathon

In pouring rain I drove into a hotel car park with no signage and poor lighting and put the window down to ask a staff member mopping water out of the ground floor units what the name of hotel was. He mentioned it was Knights Inn & Suites!!! Woo Hoo… Finally,  after 11pm!

It turns out that the signage was actually Yuma Palms Inn with totally different colour and logo and there was absolutely no reference to Knights Inn & Suites. In the wet I checked in for a few hours sleep prior to a massive 48 hours ahead. I set the alarm for 4am and packed bags for the start of a long day.

After making my way to the start line at Cocopah Casino in Somerset and registering I met up with a runner called Tom Podruchny from Ontario, Canada. He had one of the firmest handshakes, and I had a sense that we had met before – somewhere.

Both Tom & I were planning to start the marathon early at 6am. On the walk to the start line I mentioned that I was sure we had met before, and it turned out that we had indeed met prior to the Cadbury Marathon in Hobart, Australia back in 2009.

This sure was a random meeting on Australia Day!

Tom is an inspiration as a 75 year old still pushing out a marathon and after we both lined up for the official start it was soon clear that he was planning to walk the majority of the marathon. For me the priority was to make it across the finish line as soon as possible to be sure I made the afternoon flight to Miami.

The challenge with starting any event at 6am in the pitch black is clearly the limited lighting and this was certainly a challenge with the out and back road course along a highway. The opening 6 miles was well marked with cones on the side of the road to the Half Marathon turn around point although after this there were few markings to protect runners from the passing traffic. This is always a real issue for me – that personal safety should be a priority. It was good to see the Police presence along the way.

The best part of starting early is that heat is not an issue. Although there is no support or fellow runners on course, so it is important to stay focused to keep it together over the back half of the course. The scenery during the majority of the marathon was rural farmland with a number of lettuce plantations sighted along the way. This was one of the few events where I was leading the marathon all the way past the Half Marathon turn around point and it was not until the 14 mile stage that I spotted the 7am start group leaders.

Marathon Man - Time To Fly!

Marathon Man – Time To Fly!

It was great to see other runners taking on the marathon and half marathon on the way home and this really helped keep me on track with the time a huge focus for me. I had to make it across the line and jump in the car to make the flight to the Miami Marathon, so I was pleased to come home in 4:38:25 and have time for a few quick photos prior to jumping in the car and heading straight for Phoenix Airport.

The drive was another 3+ hour adventure through the desert with one sign noted with interest reading “Dateland”. Now it did cross my mind for a moment that perhaps by stopping in to this remote little town there may be the possibility of finding a date along the way. Alas as often is the case, time was against me on this day and I soon found myself in another race for the airport check in counter to make the flight. It was a good drive although there was no time for food and I only had time to stop to refuel the car close by the airport before making it to check in my bag minutes prior to the flight boarding to Miami via Charlotte.

2013 Statistics:

Marathons Run – 11
Total Distance Run – 464.1 km / 288.2 miles
US States Completed – AZ, CA, NV, TX
Total Drive Distance – 1,096 km / 681 miles
Total Flight Distance – 3,121 km / 1,940 miles

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