My First Marathon Experience- Bitter Cold

My first marathon experience was on January 16, 1994. My husband and I where running the Great Valley Marathon in Chambersburg Pa. At the age of 24 I only had one half marathon under my belt and that was not a good experience, making me a little nervous.  Race day we woke up to a temperature of -2 degrees with a wind chill factor of -20 degrees. Crazy one might think for even thinking of running a marathon. We drove out the night before so figure we might as well run since we are here.

The race director met with all the runners at the starting line for an important pre-race meeting. He told us to be careful while running the race. If you have any trouble out on the course , or want to stop, look for a car with there flashers on and they will drive you back to the warm building. He also said If you’d prefer not to start the race to see him and he would gladly refund all of your registration money. No one took him up on the refund offer. I have never been to a race that they would give you your money back but then it was freezing.

The race was a quick start literally line up and GO! I made it through 20 miles in 2:35 (pace to run 3:25). Shortly after 20 miles I started to hit the wall and started walking. The race volunteers where quick to tell us to run or get in the car for fear of runners getting hypothermia. At mile 22 I got into a car depressed that I was not going to finish  for the first time in my running career. Something positive came out of me DNF (didn’t finish) as the car pulled into the finish area I heard on the walkie-talkie the winner was approaching and it was my husband. I got to see the last 1/4 miles of his marathon win.

As I watched the runners finished I saw several men finish with beards that had icicles forming down. One guy had about a dozen icicles on his beard and each where several inches long. I wish I had my camera to take pictures because if you told others they would laugh.

The race had 105 runners register and only 70 show up to start the race. There where 64 finishers.  This is a good reason to pick a marathon not in the winter. Well unless it is in a place that would be a little warmer.  I was glad I had my gore-tex jacket on.  I had only bought it the month before and almost didn’t get one.


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