Fast and scenic race with few spectators (about: 2011)|
Tim Pearson from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario (9/25/11)
6-10 previous marathons
| 1 Sault Area Chamber Chase Marathon
I just ran the Sault Area Chamber Chase, and I can tell you it's one of Michigan's best kept secrets. The race starts with a breathtaking stretch over the St. Mary's river, which connects Lake Superior with Lake Huron. Running across the International Bridge is simply awesome. The view of both the Canadian and American Sault is fantastic. It's so good, you barely recognize the double rises of the bridge going both ways. Aside from the bridge, there are no hills on this course. It's nearly pancake flat after the bridge component. Temperatures on race day were cool, and there was only a slight breeze, making this a great Boston qualifier course given the time of year. The race date though means that you won't qualify for Boston until the next year though. The Sault Eagles hockey team and a huge team of enthusiastic volunteers manned regular water stations every couple of miles. Water, Gu Brew and Gu gels were readily available. The downside is the number of spectators and competitors. If you're looking for a race with a big city feel, this isn't the one for you. There were only a few spectators along the course, but they were very encouraging. The race follows the St. Mary's River (out and back) making for a very scenic, but very quiet race. This year there were only about 40 runners in the full, meaning that you might find yourself alone a lot of the time. Lots of pylons mark the way, so you won't get lost, and traffic is almost non-existent along the route. I was impressed by the number of port-a-johns available on course. You never had far to go if you ever need a pitstop. Other marathons could learn a lot from this! The course was accurately measured and certified and the race was chip-timed. The finishers' medal is really well-designed with a pretty good race shirt. No swag though. The entry fee is one of the lowest around, but the organizers don't offer prize money, draw prizes nor sponsor prizes to anyone. Age division recognition goes 3-deep, with a very unique slice of International Bridge I-Beam fashioned into a trophy. You won't see another trophy like it anywhere! It's a good race, but don't enter for the prizes or fanfare. Go for the fast and scenic course. The twin Saults are also a nice place to visit if you're looking for a destination race that's not too crowded.