Barefoot Rick's Hospital Hill Half Marathon Report - June 7, 2008

I have said it before but it bears repeating -- any race with "hill" in its title is a race to not take for granted! I have ran Hospital Hill in early June several times before. Not as many times as some of the few that have ran it every year of its 35 year existence, but enough to know that it is the "mother" of all half marathons in the Midwest. The race has touted being the Half Marathon National Championship qualifier in years past. My point is that this is a BIG race and it gets bigger every year, with registration topping over 4,000 this year for the half, 10K, and 5K events.

My expectations were a bit subdued on race day from what I thought I might be able to run. Years ago, Hospital Hill Half was my fastest half to date. In 2001, I ran the course in 1 hour 27 minutes. Seven years later, I was hoping for a 1:40 to 1:45. I thought that was realistic since I had ran a 3:35 St. Louis Marathon in April. The weather would have different designs on my intentions, as I would soon find out.

It was already hot and humid when I showed up at the start line around 6:30 a.m. I met up with a friend (Jesse) and his girlfriend as we waited for the race to start. As I mentioned, the heat was already a factor and there was a monsoon-type wind blowing from the south at a constant 25 mph with gusts of 35 to 40. Since most of the race is north/south, I knew that an already challenging course would become even more so with the weather conditions. We started right at 7 a.m. and headed north for about a mile, turning east at the Sprint Center and then an immediate right to head back south, right into the wind! It wasn't so bad, at first, because we had a lot of the buildings giving us wind cover. Where I felt the wind initially starting to push us back was topping Pershing/Gillham hill. This is a monster incline that goes for about a half mile. Once we topped it, I could really feel the wind resistance. We continued on down Gillham encountering our next big hill of consequence around the Nelson-Atkins Art Museum. However, the one that I thought was the toughest today was Rockhill hill, in front of the University of Missouri-Kansas City (my alma mater!). It just seemed to go on forever!

Turning west on Meyer Blvd. around the 7 mile mark, the hills were a series of up and downs until we turned north on Brush Creek. This boulevard is a nice down hill that goes for a couple of miles and allowed runners to regain their composure after battling the south wind and the heat and humidity. Soon, we were on the Plaza area and we turned for our last large series of hills on Broadway. This year, Broadway's two miles of mostly up hills did not seem as bad. I'm sure a large part of that was the wind pushing us and actually cooling us down some as it blew and gusted from the south. Finally, we turned east on Linwood and then north on Main. We pushed up the last hill and then it was a straight down hill shot into Crown Center and the finish. I did a lot of hand slapping on the way in as the crowds were thick at the finish. I crossed the finish line at 1:51:24. Certainly not what I was hoping for, but given the conditions it was acceptable.


Finish Time - 1:51:24
Pace - 8:31
15th Place (Age Group 50-54 Males)
Overall Place - 286 out of 1812 finishers


Click Here (or the link below) for a brief rundown of my Half Marathon history.


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