When I decided to visit family in Pennsylvania I found the River Towns Marathon which was only 2.5 hours away from where I was staying.
As a bonus, it was easy to convince my youngest sister Autum to join me for the race. Here’s my recap (with pics!).
The River Towns Marathon
The River Towns Marathon is located in Danville, PA and was held on May 3, 2014. This small marathon is in its seventh year and is not a Boston Qualifier. They offered packet pickup at a local middle school the night before the race and also had race-morning pickup at the start line (I went with this option).
I stayed with my sister and brother-in-law the night before since we had to leave so early in the morning. The clock went off at 3am and I found out that my brother-in-law wakes up quickly. I’m used to living with Trevor who is a non-morning person and it was weird to hear the song “We Will Rock You” blaring from the stereo at 3:15am and have eggs and lattes brewing by 3:30am.
The drive was fairly uneventful until we missed a key turn and had to go a few miles out of the way. Fortunately we still arrived in time at the middle school where parking was located, easily found a spot and were directed to the starting line about 4 blocks away. They had tents set up and I easily got my race bib, timing chip, race shirt, did bag check, and was able to use the plentiful port-a-pots. It was very convenient.
There were around 100 full marathoners and we milled around the starting area waiting for the race to start. The race director gave a few last minute instructions before the 7am start time.
I visited with a coaching client, Foti from NJ, who was representing in his MTA Release the Kraken shirt, and saw Jim and Terri, long-time MTA listeners at the start. They were on their way to NYC and came to see me at the start of the race.
The weather was ideal with temps starting in the high 40’s and a light breeze. The course was a beautiful out and back which wound along the Susquehanna River through the towns of Danville, Catawissa, and Bloomsburg, crossed the river in a couple sections (one on an old railroad trestle) and went through a wooded trail section.
The half marathon (which had around 400 runners) started at 9am and they did an out and back which joined the full marathon course at mile 19.5. As the morning wore on it warmed up to the high 60’s.
There were very few spectators along this course except for the volunteers at the aid stations and at the Rupert Covered Bridge at miles 11 and 15 (Jim and Terri were there to cheer me on). I ended up running by myself 95% of the time and tried to cheer on other runners along the way.
The aid stations were good for most of the race but fairly basic. Unfortunately the last two aid stations got rather overwhelmed by the half marathoners and started running out of water.
I used a new fuel during this race that didn’t work very well. I started having energy issues and blood sugar instability around mile 14 so I resorted to sugar “trickling” with a gel I’d tucked in a pocket for the last few miles. I was able to run the whole race (hills included) but my legs felt heavy and I didn’t have my normal finishing kick. My time was 3:55:04 and I was the 6th overall female. I will definitely stick with using Generation UCAN from here on out!
The winner of the marathon was Paul Riley, 28, of Texas who set a new course record in 2:32:45! Olivia Kelly, 28, of Maryland was the first woman in 3:32:53. The marathon finished in downtown Danville where they were holding a spring fling festival with around 200 vendors. The race gave out water, beer and small medals (we’re talking tiny here) at the finish line. I had brought a banana from home and was almost mobbed by runners wondering where they could get one.
After my sister finished the half marathon in 2:06 we walked through the festival and spent the $5 voucher the race gave in lieu of post race food. I indulged my love of kettle corn! Then we drove to Williamsport where we ate at the Bullfrog Brewery before heading home.
This marathon has a lot going for it with good organization and a scenic course. I think that with a few minor improvements to the medal, aid stations and post-race food it could become a much more popular event.