on Friday, May 20, 2016 at 10:15 PM

While talking with Kenny at the start of the Goodlife marathon a few weeks ago, he mentioned that he had considered doing the Whitby International marathon as his after Boston race which is taking place this weekend.  I had never considered doing Whitby, but it's timely placed and a relatively flat course.  I started thinking about maybe doing Whitby shortly after finishing Goodlife.  I'm not sure that a 45 second BQ cushion that I had at Goodlife would be enough. Would have liked to have at least a minute or something similar to what I had last year.  I would have had a good three weeks of rest and recovery between the two races. While I've done 2 weeks before, it wasn't ideal and I think three weeks would totally be doable. 

However, I did have to take stock of what my fitness level would be and what time I could reasonably run.  While Goodlife was a net downhill course, Whitby is a flat  course that starts and ends at the same place so no net elevation change.  I honestly think while doing Goodlife that I was more fit than I was doing Goodlife last year and if not, for the crazy headwind over the last 7 km I would have at least matched my time from last year.  The question however is how that fitness would translate onto a flat marathon course and that I'm not sure of. 

Crunching the numbers from Goodlife, the only time I was able to really bank under 3:15 was a result of the downhill drop of Goodlife.  If I eliminate the first half of Goodlife, from the 21.1k mark to the start of the wind at about 35km, I only averaged about 7:29 pace over the flat section which would have put me at a 3:16 marathon if extrapolated to the full distance. Goodlife though was a crappy day with rain weighing down my clothes and I had a side stitch issue so maybe I could knock a minute off of that in more ideal conditions.  If I look at my time in 2015, I did the last half of the race at about 7:25 pace which would put me at a 3:14:36 marathon, still slower than the time I had this year.  Could I do more? Sure, maybe if I hadn't pigged out on food in the last few weeks and put on about 2-3 pounds, so it was looking like that trying to do Whitby in the hopes of bettering my BQ time would not be in the cards, until I started doing some digging around in Garmin Connect. 

While the Whitby marathon claims that it is a certified course and a Boston qualifier, I'm not too sure.  I say this for two reasons.  Firstly, the Whitby course doesn't appear on the official list of certified courses in Canada.  While the list does have an entry for the WIN marathon, this was for the course in 2010 which is not the same route that is shown on the WIN marathon website or the same route that was used last year.  There doesn't appear to have been a measurement of the new course that was certified.  Now this isn't necessarily an issue if the course actually is the marathon distance as you can always get it certified later, if need be. 

However, there's a possibility that it's not even the right distance which leads to the second reason why I don't think the course is certified.  While scouting around on Garmin Connect to see what the actual route looks like based on previous people that have run the course, it appears that no previous Garmin has measured the course at being at least 42.2km

Less than 42.195km "marathon"?

While 5 people running is not a big sample size, the fact that none of them show a distance of at least 42.195km is a bit of a concern.  Now GPS isn't precisely accurate, but generally, based on past experience, GPS measurements of marathons are longer than the actual distance, not shorter.  While I'm not sure how actually short the course is, the longest is about 80m short while three of the routes show 200m short.  200m short would be about 55 seconds of running that I wouldn't have to do, which would be a big bonus for someone like me who's on the bubble.

Of course knowing all this could potentially taint any supposed BQ time and I'm  not sure I would be willing to benefit from this.  Would it be cheating if I intentionally ran a BQ time on a course that I knew was short?  That's a good question, and I'm not sure it's something I want to have to answer.


Jeffrey Tran said...

The minor trail turns cause gps to draw straight line and erases distance x4 for each turn. I have done the course multiple times, and it is accurate if you cover the intended distance set by the course director. Being a small course in earlier years my intuition is new folks to the area and to the course could have easily missed a portion by turning early or at the wrong spot. I am hyper familiar w area and maps and have never missed an inch of that course - it is correct. I speculated in 2013 possibly there were a group that turned early as I saw lots of people who were surprised by their PB or BQ. I think it is an excellent course and true distance. Tends to be a tad warm and that impacts on me. I recommend the course as the advantage is knowing where you are during the second loop. This helps w pace management. Trust me, all rise tiny little turns and curves on the trail don't get picked up by gps!