Since I ran this, the course has been changed a bit. You can view the official course here.
This September, State College is going to have its very own full marathon. The Mt. Nittany Marathon will be a scenic 26.2 mile certified course winding around the area of its namesake – Mt. Nittany. Utilizing local bike paths and roadways, the inaugural marathon will be on Sunday, September 1 of Labor Day weekend. Historical average temperatures range from a low of 50 degrees to a high of 77 degrees Fahrenheit it will start at 8 AM and has a 7 hour course limit. Based on current qualifying dates, the Mt. Nittany Marathon will also serve as a last-chance qualifier for the 2014 Boston Marathon.
Many of the sections of the planned course I am familiar with and today I decided to run the first half. It starts on campus, goes by Jim’s work at the 1 mile point and slips down onto the limited access Big Hollow Rd for a spell – very nice. The next few miles follow sections of the Nittany Valley Half Marathon route but backward. Fox Hollow to Orchard (the Spiral of Death) takes you down this time to skirt Millbrook Marsh and onto a local bike path. I run this bike path about once a week so it was strange to exit on the little covered bridge. It was well before I was used to and it was different to run through Lemont. The narrow road around the base of Mt. Nittany has very little shoulder space to offer and I had to stay very alert as it snaked its way through the quarry and came out in Oak Hall.
At about 8 miles, Jim met me with some water before I started the RoLlInG hIlLs on Brush Valley Rd, past Mt. Nittany Winery and cut through Linden Hall. This cuts back another section of the same valley so it was a surprise to me to realize I had been running with a tail wind on Brush Valley Rd. The next couple of miles along Linden Hall Rd. were a real challenge today but my over all pace was ok.
I would say as a training route it is challenging because of needing to stay very alert for traffic more that half of the run, pretty much the last 7 miles. As a race, it won’t be an easy course but it is BEAUTIFUL! I am still deciding if I am going to sign up for it – I suppose I could run it 2 months prior to the NYC Marathon as a training run if I am very careful.
As it turns out, Jim didn’t have to go anywhere from the 8 mile point because just after 13 the course kisses and I was able to come right back. It was a good length and it really demystified how I would feel on the hills which, until today, I had only every biked before.
Click here to read my review of the Mt. Nittany Marathon – second half.