Reader Stan was asking for a Mississauga Marathon strategy guide and since we’re about 12 hours to go to the race, I thought I’d oblige with some quick thoughts.
First, I’ve run the marathon there twice, and each time it was a different course at the end. It looks like this year is the same as 2009 when I ran it.
Course in general: It is generally exposed, some hills in the beginning and can be subject to wind since the last bit is on the water. In general, it is a net downhill course, so it is quite fast, especially for half marathoners. For marathoners, the flat and potentially windy (and soul damaging out and backs where you get so close to the finish, you can get a little defeated.
This race report sums up my 2009 version and you can see that I ran a negative split, partly because I was pacing a friend for the first 30 some odd kilometres then bumped it up at the end.
First 10K: You’re running from the city hall/Square One, and it’s a big crowd since you’re pacing with half marathons. I try never to go out too fast but it’s definitely possible to make that mistake. Heading west, you will have both inclines and downhills as you run on wide roads. The second half of the first 10K brings you down Mississauga Rd. which is a lot of fun to run but includes some killer hills that you should get ready for. Before you hit the big downhill followed by an uphill, you visit the U of T campus that’s a nice detour.
10K to half: You run another 5K or so with the half marathoners, then you turn around 15K. I enjoyed getting some peace and quiet when the crowd thins, and it’s a good time to get into the pace. You’re running in neighbourhood so the change in scenery going west is nice. Not much to note other than again when you start hitting south again it’ll be exposed to the sun and wind so plan and dress accordingly.
Half to 16 mile mark: Yep, this isn’t a fun part of the course. Some industrial land. You’ll start to see faster runners who are ahead of you as you hit the lone out-and-back portion of the race. While you should have plenty of energy to go, wind can be your enemy here.
16 miles to 20 miles: Slowly, you leave the industrial part and start heading back toward the finish. Wish it was a straight line but you got a lot of curves. There are hilly bits here and there so be prepared for small rollers. Nothing that will get you but if you haven’t prepared you should.
20 miles to the end: The final bit of the Mississagua Marathon combines running on Lakeshore, where you are running on a main street, running south into a few neighbourhoods. First things first, a lot of people hit the wall on Lakeshore around the 36K mark. They do so because there is a considerable incline. My tactic was always to run it strong and not let the course do me in. Good in a race like this to carry water or Gatorade with you as water stations are not exactly close together (good to check that). The final bit features a lot of running on winding paths, many of them really designed for everyday trail traffic, so it can be quite tight in there depending on when you finish. I've finished a marathon having to wind my way through half marathoners who were just finishing.