A week after running the Toronto Marathon, I decided to take part in the Niagara half. On race morning, I drove to Niagara and parked illegally in Travelodge beside the race head quarters. After picking up my race kit, I felt a sudden urge to hit the toilet! It turned out to be a good decision or else I would have been on my haunches 10 kms into the race. The bus took us to the starting line and we started the race in cold & windy conditions. The whole race was run along Niagara parkway. The scenery was awesome, with Niagara river on one side and beautiful estate houses on the other. The water stations were on every kilometer and the volunteer support was amazing. However, there weren’t too many locals cheering us on as most of the race was run thru parks and non residential areas….not to mention the constant drizzle and high winds. Finally, after over a two and quarter hours and totally drenched, I crossed the finish line. There was a warm blanket and a medal awaiting my arrival. I had some food and then the bus took us back to the race hotel. After changing into drier clothes, I drove back to Toronto.
This was my first marathon in the home city. My boss, Mickey Dearson was over from London and he decided to run the half. When I went to the race head quarters to pick up my race kit, I was interviewed by City TV news team. In the evening, it was broadcasted over national television. After picking up Mickey from Royal York Hotel, we proceeded to the race start at Mel Lastman Square. We barely got in time for the start of the half and the full marathon was 15 minutes later. One mistake I made was not having anything substantial to eat, which came to bite me later on in the race. The race route was a little boring as we circled around the north york area before heading down Yonge Street towards downtown. By the time I reached the half way mark, I was starving and low on sugar. Passing by Yonge Street where most restaurants were serving breakfast made the matters worse for me. I wished I had some money on me ! Luckily, I found Bill Premdas, my squash partner, who was there to support his wife complete her first marathon. Bill advised me that he’ll arrange some power bars and meet up with me at the 30km mark. So, I walked ran for another 5kms thru Forest Hill and found Bill at the corner of Yonge / Rosedale. Those bars gave me the necessary energy to go through the last 10 kms and I finished the race in 4:47. Bill and his wife were at the finish line cheering me on. At last, I finished my first marathon at home. A lesson I learned was to eat properly and carry a lot of power bars with you in order to avoid hitting the wall!
Ziyad Rahim is an adventure-runner from Pakistan. He currently holds 10 Guinness World Records in long-distance running, ranging from marathons to ultra-marathons.