Taking part in Napa Vally Marathon was very different from any races I did before. Firstly, because it was limited to 3000 runners. Secondly, to get to the start line, we had to take a school bus from the finish line to the point where the races started.
Early in the morning at 5 am on March 1st 2015 my brother drove me to the Vintage High School in Napa Valley to take the bus going up the valley. Taking the bust to the starting point felt like riding the Coca Cola Christmas caravan. It was terribly cold and exciting at the same time. 40 minutes later we were at the start of Napa Valley Marathon. Or the point were the start was about to be set. At that time, it was pitch dark and no sign of the marathon. Even finding a porter-loo toilet was a mission. Once we found them, they were all cable tie locked.
In no time, a massive starting line sign was inflated as runners were queuing for the toilet, trying to stay warm in the bus or starting their own individual warming up routines.
I gave my bag to be brought to the finish, did a quick stroll to warm up and lined up to start. We heard the Star Spangled Banner and took off down the Napa Valley. Downhill for some parts at least. My brother was constantly telling me how easy the Napa Valley Marathon course was – all downhill. I would call it undulating at best. For every downhill there was an uphill requiring more energy each time I had to climb one.
At least the course had an astonishing scenery. As the sun was rising, the sight of grape fields and wineries was astonishing. Running along these wineries for four hours, only hearing deep breaths and feet stomping the ground (as listening to music was not allowed) was far from easy though. Seeing spectators sparingly along the course was great. Very often it was people from local wineries. It would get more more crowded on some crossroads, and later in Napa.
Just before entering the town there was a straight part of the course that seemed to never finish. I was able to see people far ahead but felt that I am not getting any closer at all. So I had nothing else to do but continue running. Step after step towards the finish line.
I finished the race in 3 hours 51 minutes and 43 seconds. It has been a while I felt this tired. I was not happy about my time. However, I am happy I did the race and do not need to do this one again.