Gettysburg North South #Marathon


Well there’s no backing out now! I signed up for my third marathon, the Gettysburg North South Marathon at the end of April. I’ve been trying to decide on one since the Marine Corps Marathon in October, but was having trouble as there are so many to choose from all around the same time.

First I was leaning toward Vermont City Marathon in Burlington at the end of May. However, I wasn’t sure I’d have anyone available to go with me. It’d be a fun trip overall as I’ve only been to Vermont once and it was to ski for a weekend. It’s still on my list though! Then I thought, “Well I’ll just do Pittsburgh since it’s close and I did want to do the half anyway.” The problem was I just wasn’t excited.

You’re probably wondering what that has to do with anything. Don’t get me wrong, I want to run the Pittsburgh Half in the future. I just remember watching the marathoners two years ago when I was in the city for the race and thinking that I didn’t think I wanted to do the marathon. The course is not easy (not that that’s a good excuse) and it’s been consistently hot in Pittsburgh that weekend the past couple years. Running and heat are not my cup of tea!

Anyway, I felt like if I was going to do a marathon and make it through the training and ENJOY the whole process, I should be excited about the race I was preparing for. When I didn’t feel that way about Pittsburgh, I decided to look for another race and keep my plan of running the Pittsburgh Half down the road.

A friend of mine had mentioned the Gettysburg Marathon awhile back and I had decided that maybe I’d run their 10-miler. But when I was googling marathons I saw it was listed and immediately felt the excitement I wanted to feel. I gave it a bit of thought, consulted my friend who had originally suggested it and soon after we both registered.

So why Gettysburg, besides my feelings of excitement? First, I have a fondness for U.S. history and have visited Gettysburg many times. It was only a short 90 minute drive from home so we’d often do day trips. I remember one time my mom and I watched the movie Gettysburg and then came up and drove the battlefield. It really brought it all to life for me and gave me an even better understanding of what each side was fighting for.

Two years ago I did the same with Gabe, watching the movie and then going there to share it with him. Here’s a few photos from our trip.

The view of the battlefield.

The view of the battlefield.

The view of the battlefield from atop the Pennsylvania memorial.

The view of the battlefield from atop the Pennsylvania Memorial.

Sitting at the Pennsylvania Memorial.

Sitting at the Pennsylvania Memorial.

One of the cannons at the Copse of Trees, the focal point of Pickett's Charge on the final day of the Battle of  Gettysburg.

One of the cannons at the Copse of Trees, the focal point of Pickett’s Charge on the final day of the Battle of Gettysburg.

While you don’t get to run the whole battlefield in the marathon, you do get to run part of town and through the battlefield before heading out onto rolling country roads. I think it’ll be a gorgeous course.

The race will be a lot different from the other two marathons I’ve done that were both rather large. I looked at last year’s numbers for Gettysburg and less than 500 people ran the marathon. I did notice that a nice chunk of people ran it in the time frame I’ve run the other two so hopefully I won’t be too alone out on the course. Another thing that’s different is you’re not allowed to wear earbuds. Portions of the course are open to traffic so it’s for runners’ safety, which I completely understand. I might have my phone play music and have an armband if I really think I’ll need it.

I’m planning to prepare for this difference in a few ways just to be safe. While I normally run with friends making music unnecessary, I do sometimes have music when I’m on long runs alone during daylight hours, and always in long races. I rarely use music on short runs, during short races, or at night. I do actually enjoy hearing what’s going on around me. I also might try to do some of the long runs alone. I’m sure this will be necessary anyway, but when you have someone to talk to the miles and time sometimes seem to pass more quickly. Both of these will be good challenges to help me prepare.

One thing I am excited about is the cool medal. Last year’s was really nice!

Courtesy of the Gettysburg Marathon Facebook page.

Courtesy of the Gettysburg Marathon Facebook page.

I also love the competition between the North and the South. You pick the side you want to run for with most people picking where they live. I picked the North because I live in PA, although I’m from Maryland originally. Maryland never seceded from the Union, but had many people sympathetic with the cause of the South, as well as with the North. It definitely fit its role as a border state.

Anyway, bibs are uniquely colored to represent each side and there’s a scored competition. Last year I think they took the times of the top male and female finisher on each side to determine the winning side. You get a big beer mug if your side wins. Apparently the North, as it did in the Civil War and in the Gettysburg battle, has won each of the previous years.

So that’s the news! I’m looking at a few spring races that I haven’t registered for yet. They include the MCM 17.75K, the Rumspringa Half Marathon, and hopefully some small local races too. I’m hoping my friend and I will get to be part of a team for the Ragnar Trail Relay in West Virginia in June. I might have to throw some trail races in to prepare!

Question: What spring race are you looking for to?



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