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Got Legs?

5 tips for a successful marathon in Moncton

By Andrew Wagstaff
Maritime Runner
Sept. 22, 2017

   MONCTON, N.B. – Maritime marathon season wraps up every year in Moncton, N.B. with Legs for Literacy, which is not only New Brunswick’s largest running event, but arguably the only one in the region that helps people learn how to read.
   Since its beginnings 17 years ago, Legs for Literacy has donated $674,000 to local literacy initiatives. That total will grow in one month’s time, when the 18th annual event takes place on Sunday, Oct. 22.
   The Legs marathon route offers runners a variety of terrain and surfaces, including road, sidewalk and trail, stretching through parts of downtown Moncton, Riverview and Dieppe. Being so late in the year, it also offers a variety of weather conditions.
Photos courtesy of Legs for Literacy on Facebook
The crowds in downtown Moncton make for an exciting finish line.
   “Wind!” exclaimed Ryan O’Shea of New Maryland, winner of the 2015 marathon. “The year I ran the marathon, it was really windy, and that race is known for having unforgiving winds. It feels like a big city race, and the support along the route is amazing, but that wind is something that makes it unique.”
   Lee Roy traveled all the way from Bathurst to win the 2014 race, but felt like he had never left home.
   “For me, Legs is like a hometown race,” said Roy. “There is always a tonne of people from northern New Brunswick there.”
   Also traveling a long way to take part in the event was Heather O’Donnell of Middleton, N.S., who finished as the top female in the 2016 race.
   “Moncton is a beautiful city and we had a really fun weekend when we went to that marathon,” she said. “It’s also really nice that the money goes to support different literacy initiatives – I love that.”
   Elita Rahn of Jolicure, top female finisher in 2014, agreed.
   “Legs is a nice fall marathon, and the Laubach literacy organization is such a great cause,” she said. “It’s also nice to experience some of the trails in Moncton. There are hills, despite what you’d think or would like to think.”
   Moncton’s own Jean-Marc Doiron made his marathon debut at Legs in 2016, and was the first marathoner to cross the finish line.
   “As far as I’m concerned, Moncton is a solid, well-organized, smaller-scale marathon,” said Doiron. “I thought it was the perfect place to run my first one.”
Following are five tips on running a successful marathon at Legs for Literacy, from runners who have done it.
Run with a friend:
   If you didn’t bring anyone to run the marathon with you, you might be wise to make a friend during the race, especially if the wind lives up to expectations.
   “You can run by pace, because the course is mostly flat, but be prepared to adjust your pace accordingly,” said O’Shea, who finished with a time of 2:39:54 in 2015. “Ideally, if you can find someone to run with, it is worth slowing down at the beginning, as the savings in energy by sharing the wind are definitely worth it.”
   Doiron, who finished with a time of 2:39:40 in 2016, offered the same advice.
   “You definitely have to be ready for some wind,” he said. “I would suggest working together with whoever is around you, and take turns drafting off each other when the wind picks up.”

Make use of your supporters:
   Having support along the route is important during any marathon, but perhaps even more so during a late October event, when clothing changes could become necessary.
   That top layer you were glad you brought at 8 a.m., might be causing you some discomfort by 10:30 a.m.
   “Because of the quick changes in weather, if you can have someone on course with extra layers to give you or even take from you, it can save your race,” said O’Shea.

Train for the trails:
   Running on asphalt is very different from running on crusher dust or soft ground, and a wise marathoner will prepare for both before tackling Legs for Literacy.
   “A large part of the course was on trail,” recalled O’Donnell, who finished the 2016 race with a time of 3:09:33. “So it’s a good idea to do some training on that type of terrain.”

Be ready for some hills:
   The Moncton marathon is not known for being overly hilly, but it is not without its challenges. It has a total elevation gain of 144m, and many of those climbs come later in the race.
   “Mentally prepare yourself for a more challenging back half through the rolling hills in Dieppe,” said O’Donnell. “The year I did it, it was super windy, so find someone taller than you to run behind!”
   The moderate rolling hills can be found between the 25K and 32K marks, right when things can start to get tough, according to Doiron.
   “But, once you hit the 30+ and you turn on the trail where you can see downtown Moncton in the distance, that’s when the race gets special,” he said. “I really loved the whole run into town from there. If you paced things right, that can be a very special 10K of running.”

Did we mention the weather?
   October in Moncton means a T-shirt and shorts will likely not cut it, at least for the whole race. But you won’t know until the day comes.
   “Get ready for unpredictable weather,” said Roy, who finished the 2014 race with a time of 2:40:07. “I have run this event six times and it’s ranged from -10 degrees with crazy winds, even snow, to +25 degrees with crazy humidity.”
   Success depends on what you are looking for in terms of success, according to Rahn, who finished in 2014 with a time of 3:10:57.
   “A good time and placing can really depend a lot on the weather and how prepared you are for it,” she said. “It’s fall, and anything could happen.”
The 18th annual Legs for Literacy event will take place on Sunday, Oct. 22.
Photos courtesy of Legs for Literacy on Facebook
Jean-Marc Doiron leads a pack of runners in the 2016 race.
Photos courtesy of Legs for Literacy on Facebook
An emotional Lee Roy, after winning the 2014 marathon.