Race Report: The Heart of America Marathon

img_0828Editor’s note: This report was sent in by MTA fan Stephen Johnson.

Greetings MTA community! I have been listening to MTA for the pat two years and Trevor has inspired me to share my race experiences. Therefore: Now is the time for my first ever Not-Quite-So-Famous Race Recap.

On Labor Day this past September I ran the Heart of America Marathon in Columbia, Missouri. This a smaller race with only 142 runners who finished this year.

The race was well supported for its size.

The Heart of America Marathon

There were aid stations every 3 miles starting at mile 4. Also there is a 6 hour time limit. Headphones are discouraged since much if the race is run on 2 lane roads with no shoulder. All runners received a Brooks Technical race shirt and a cool finishers medal shaped like heart.

The Course

The Heart of America (HOA) starts at the highest part of town right next to the University of Missouri Hospital and heads south on Providence Road. The first half is significantly easier than the latter half with a few uphill portions but a mostly downward descent to part of the Katy Trail which runs adjacent to the Missouri River. There is a little Thai food place where cyclists and canoers stop for a bite to eat called Cooper’s Landing.


The second part starts with an ascent up the ironically named Easly Hill. It’s the hill that keeps on going for a good quarter mile or so. The course rolls up and down smaller hills at it approaches Columbia again. Just outside of town the course dips way down into the Rock Bridge State Park and up another big hill on the way out. At this point the course returns to Providence Rd and head back towards downtown Columbia.

The finish line is at the Ultramax Sports which is an awesome local running store where I have found a supply of fueling products mentioned on the MTA podcast.

At the finish line there were a few kiddy pools filled with ice water for sore
muscles. There was water, soda, bananas, and cookies from Hot Box Cookies. (This company bakes cookies and delivers them directly to you door or college dorm room.). There was also an award ceremony at Shakespears Pizza where runners get all you can eat while winners medals are handed out.

My Race

img_0921This was my second full marathon and it was much more difficult to complete than my first marathon -the Missouri Cow Bell in 2015. I was feeling great throughout the first half of the race. It is a primarily gradual downhill part of the race and I made the classic mistake of starting out too fast.

Half way up Easly hill I started to get tired and the heat started warming up. The temp was 65 degrees F at 6:00 am when the race started but by 8:00 am it was mid 70’s and rising. It was 85 by the time I finished. I trudged a long waking at times when I needed a rest. I walked at every aid station to rehydrate (but not too much thanks to Dr. Tim Nokes 👍).

By the time I hit mile 22 I had just climbed the big hill coming out of Rock Bridge Memorial State Park and grabbed half a banana from a man dressed in a banana suit I felt exhausted. I had the, “Why did I sign up for this?” Thought at this moment. I pretty much had to walk run from this point on. My left foot hurt to run on, the heat was intense, and I began getting muscle cramps in my quads.

I was using Tailwind to fuel because it advertises electrolytes but it was obviously not enough because I was sweating buckets. At mile 25 I was passed by a woman who was using a struck Galloway method with a distinctive gait. Her head full of long silver hair bobbed wildly side to side as she left me in the dust.

I finished in the middle of the pack 73/142 with a finishing time of 4:27:05 and 13th in my age group. My average pace was 10:12 per mile. My Runkeeper App said there was 2072 ft of elevation change during this race. Even though this time is slower than my first marathon time, I feel good about it considering the course. (My first marathon was
4:18). I felt destroyed after finishing this race and I even had practiced on the course! I don’t plan on doing it again…but you never know.

My kids made me a banner when I got home.

My kids made me a banner when I got home.

Thank-you Trevor and Angie for all the great podcasts that help me get this far. I share your podcast with any one who will listen.

Until next time,

Stephen Johnson
Ashland, Missouri, USA

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