Trinidad Marathon - Karen Downey

Well Roger and I finished the Trinidad Marathon on Sunday January 25th and it was a great! I highly recommend this for next year!

I must tell you a little bit about the race…..

Registering for the race
Well registering for the race is a registration is supposedly available however if you go to the website it is always under construction so the best way to register is to call down and give them your name. Yes that's how we got registered. Me (being a nervous freak) kept asking Roger "you’re sure we’re registered right?" and he assured me that he talked to "the guy" and we were good to go.

Payment and race kit pickup
So the race is sponsored and run by an Insurance Company "Clico". This is where "the guy", actually his name is Brandon asked us to meet him. So we show up at Clico go to reception and Brandon comes down to meet us...we go to the teller and pay our registration fee. Roger registers as a local for $30 TT which is equivalent to $6 USD yes I said $6!!!!. I, being a foreigner, get the expensive registration fee of $30 USD. So now we head up to Brandons office (cubicle) and sit and fill out our registration forms and receive our race kits as there is no expo. The $30 registration fee covers the race fee + t-shirt plus a personal tour of the race course and also personal drive to the starting line (such service!). You see I'm a foreign participant so they treat you very well. Brandon handed us our bibs and Roger was #9, so now he is feeling like Mr. Elite with his single digit #..... I got #409 which is really #9 as the women's numbers start at now I’m feeling like Mrs. Elite….I think Brandon thought we were elites since we travelled all the way from Canada. He kept telling me that I was going to come in 3rd place. Did I tell you I really like Brandon!

Race Day
The race started at 5:30 so we got up bright and early at 3am...jumped in the cold shower to cool down as its hot even at that time of night. We ate and off we went to the start line. We arrived at 4:30am and got our timing chips and waited for the race to start. There were approx 300-400 registered for the marathon and we were all nervously excited to begin the race. They announced everybody to get to the start line. Roger and I did a quick warm-up run and headed to the start however we didn't see a start line so weren't sure we were in the right place but then we saw the chalked line on the road and also at about 1 minute to the start two men pulled out the start banner that was held up by two very large bamboo polls which they had to manually hold up. There were some marshals there who were trying to get people seated properly telling us to go to the front because we were "elites". The gun shot blew and off we went.

Our plan was that Roger would run with me for the first half and we would do 1:35 and then he would speed up and do 1:25 and I would slow down and do 1:40 so he would come in at 3:00 and I 3:15. The first part of the race is dark and you run through some residential neighbourhoods and surprisingly people were up and out on the street giving lots of support... it was great!!!! If they weren't up they would be soon as everybody in Trinidad owns a dog so when you have 300+ runners coming down the street there is alot of dog barking...I mean alot!!!!! There was not alot of traffic at this time of day so that was good. Oh did I mention that they don't close the streets for the marathon...hey maybe thats why its only $30 to register?. The course was a point to point run so you start outside Port of Spain and then head into town. Roger and I were running at a good consistent pace and we were on pace for our 1:35 half way point. My concern was that I had some stomach pains at the start but tried to ignore them the best I could. Well at about mile 8 (still on pace) Roger sees some porta potties coming up so he says to me "do you have to use the washroom?" okay now is where I lost it a bit, I think my response was "NO! DON"T EVER ASK ME IF I HAVE TO USE THE WASHROOM IN A RACE!!!"....I was a little mean (if you can believe it) however that's one thing you can't ask me during a marathon. Not to worry I've apologized since but I have a feeling he's never going to ask me that again.

Now we are approaching mile 10 and this is where our support crew was going to be (Rogers father and his friend Calvin). I was feeling good at this point as the sun was just up and there were still a few clouds so not too hot yet (probably only 28 degrees) and I felt even better when our support crew gave us cold towels which felt really good!!!!! Our support crew also let me know my place in the race “you are the 7th woman and the next woman is two minutes ahead”. So we continued running maintaining our pace with our support vehicle driving behind us. Yes many people had vehicles driving right beside them. And then the stomach started acting up again....I told Roger "I think I gotta go" and so unknown to me Roger runs back to our support vehicle and suddenly I see the car zoom up the road. I'm really not aware of what’s going on but a few moments later Roger says “There’s my Dad he’s found you a washroom”…His dad drove a half mile up the road and found a house where a lady would let me use her facilities. It was hilarious...I see my support crew waving their hands up and down….the stomach cramps had passed so I did not stop however I did appreciate all the hard work on finding me a place to go vs. having to drop my drawers on the street. So finally we are at mile 13 and we our right on pace…. we past the half way point just over 1:35. I say good-bye to Roger who has been a great running partner as he handed me all my drinks and kept me on pace for my goal.

The second half of the race is downtown on the main street with lots of traffic! It was not the safest course however there was a lot of encouragement along the route and all intersections were blocked off. The sun was super hot as it was probably around 35 degrees at this point. The course had lots of water and Gatorade which was great so I was hydrating like crazy. At mile 20, I saw my support crew up ahead, they confirmed that I was in 5th place which I had figured since I passed 2 women since I last saw them. The last six miles were hot and a few inclines made it seem hotter. My pace slowed down a bit however I knew I could still come in around 3:15. I just kept running as best I could passing a few men but no women in sight. Oh well I thought “Fifth is pretty good”. I was finally on the final mile and could see the stadium where the finish line was. As I entered the stadium I saw Roger and I knew the end was near. Of course you get in the stadium and you have to do a full lap on the track to get to the finish line….I ran as fast as I could which probably wasn’t very fast but I knew I needed to run it out to hit the 3:15 mark…well I crossed the finish line at 3:15:47 and a damn good looking Trini handed me my medal and gave me a big kiss. You can guess what his name was.

Post Race
Now this is when I began to feel like an elite. I got a lot of congrats and then the award ceremony where I got to go up to the podium to accept my 5th place award. I received an envelope with a letter in it that said I had won $635 USD and that I could collect it after all awards were handed out. So after the award ceremony, the Clico staff escorted all the winners up to the elite lounge where they had free drinks and food. It was a different world. I felt like a world class athlete. Picture this…me sitting with a Nigerian, a couple Kenyans, a Polish woman who weighs all of 70 lbs and me – the pale fat Canadian girl! I was then called to the back room where I was handed $635 in crisp U.S. cash! Sweet…I love Trinidad.

Attached are some pictures of the day!


Okay so my next race is the Chilly Half in Burlington….I have a feeling I’m not going to get this royal treatment anymore! Damn!