Detroit Free Press Marathon Race Report

October 22, 2017 /
Updated Mar 2, 2020

Race Info

Location: Detroit, Michigan
Date: Sunday, October 15th, 2017
Distances: 26.2, 13.1, Relay, 5k, Kids Run
People: 26,377
Race Website

Disclaimer: I received a free entry into the Detroit Free Press Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

I tried to temper my expectations going into this race. My training cycle was less than ideal due to a long recovery after Canal Corridor 100 and a nasty, 3 week long flu from my vacation to Russia. Honestly, I was expecting far from a PR.

Then on top of it all the weather called for rain, thunderstorms, and high humidity. The few days leading up to the marathon the most I was hoping for was to NOT get stranded in Canada due to thunderstorms.


I drove up Saturday morning to get to the Expo. There was quite a wait for parking at the COBO rooftop garage. When I finally got up to the booth to pay the lady asked me what I was there for. I said the marathon expo and she proceeded to ask me why I was going to the expo. I was pretty confused with her questioning and said "so I can pick up my race packet?" At that point she told me the parking was half the cost I was expecting. Apparently she couldn't tell me there was a discount and that's why we played a quick game of 20 questions. It made sense, but I'm pretty sure that's also why there was a long wait to pay for parking.

The actual packet pick up was a breeze and there was almost no line with how many tables they had set up for the different races and bib numbers.

The expo had a lot of cool race gear options by New Balance to buy. I debated over buying something as a lot of it was pretty cute but in the end couldn't convince myself that I needed any of it.

I continued on through the expo that snaked out. I passed many vendors. I was looking mainly for free samples and detroit related gear that wasn't the official race gear. I only saw one booth that had free samples of energy bars. They were pretty good (and vegan!). The expo had tons of local races there too. Most of them looked really interesting to me, but as I was from out of town I didn't stop to look at any too closely.

Detroit Marathon Expo 2017

And just like that I was out of the expo. Overall, it was a bit smaller than I was expecting but still a decent size. The important things like packet pick up and the information booth both had short lines which I consider most important when judging expos.

Race Morning

I didn't sleep very well as it was raining all night. The race had sent out an email Saturday night regarding thunderstorms and the potential for cancelling or rerouting the course mid-race. I kept waking up in the middle of the night only to find that it was still raining.

Breakfast for me was Peach Silk soy yogurt, a banana, and a Nature's Bakery fig bar. This was more calories than I'd typically eat before a marathon but I went for it anyways assuming that this race would be a bust time-wise.

I headed to the start and met up with the other Bibrave Pros that were running. Thankfully there weren't any more storms, but the sky still looked quite ominous.

The corals filled quickly and I positioned myself behind the 4:00 pacer. I felt like that might be unreasonable but I went with it anyways.

Detroit Marathon Start Line 2017

The race was off before I knew it. I watched as both the 4:00 and 2:00 (for the half) pacers ran out of sight. So much for that… I continued running a pace that felt comfortable and tried not to push myself in the early miles. You were running towards the Ambassador Bridge and there was plenty of great views! I've heard about the beautiful sunrises on this course, but unforunately this year it was pretty cloudy due to the potential storms.

Detroit Marathon Ambassador Bridge 2017

Running over the bridge was awesome. As you crossed into Canada you could hear a man yelling on a megaphone making jokes about reasons why we should stay in Canada. This included being slow and having no chance of winning anyways and free health care. The humor was a great addition and honestly this was the extent of cheering from Canadians. I noticed that for the most part the Canadian spectators were much more tame. No cowbells or screaming as obnoxious as the U.S. side. The differences were interesting given the only seperation between the two cities was a small river.

The tunnel came up quickly, and it was exactly as bad as everyone said it would be. Hot and humid. The downhill was welcomed and for the first time since the start I saw the 4:00 and 2:00 pacers. The giant packs of people around the pacers made it difficult to fully let go down the tunnel. It was hot and I could feel my clothes getting heavy. Water was dripping from the ceiling and I had sudden visions of the tunnel collasping on top of me with a mile of water above it. That definitely made me run faster to get out of there! The uphill exit was rough. It was probably the steepest climb of the course but my desire to be free and back into the cool air kept me pushing forward.

The next few miles I had the pacers breathing down my neck and I fully expected them to pass me. I hadn't been focusing too much on my watch so far. At about mile 11 I started to notice that I had put some distance between myself and the pacers. I was still feeling pretty good at this point. I devised a plan that after the halfway point I would focus on 5 mile increments.


This kept my mind occupied until we exited the suburbs onto an open road to head towards Belle Island. The wind was killer. Worst of all, with the race now pretty spread out there weren't any other runners breaking up the wind for me.

I tried to focus on the positives as I turned onto the bridge towards Belle Island. "At least the wind will be at my back on the way back from Belle Island right?!" WRONG. Belle Island was essentially a loop yet somehow you were running in a headwind the entire time. Same on the bridge leaving the island too. I was at mile 23 and cursing under my breath.

It seemed like without the wind I was definitely within reach of a PR, but given the wind I knew I'd be cutting it close. How did I get in this position anyways? I wasn't expecting to PR here but I felt strong the entire race and hadn't hit a wall. The wind was my litteral wall in this race. My body felt good and I was not going to finish this race without at least trying my best for a PR.

My legs were burning with the wind resistance and I wasn't even going that fast. UGH. But I was passing people. So I stopped looking at my watch and focused on that. The last stretch before heading into downtown was right on the water. I'm sure it would have been scenic but my head was down to prevent things from flying into my face.

I couldn't do math anymore and had no idea if a PR was within reach or not. I couldn't think. Each step done was another step closer to being out of the wind.

One final hill stood between me and the last stretch into the finish. How was it still windy no matter what direction I was running? I put my hands on my hips and trotted my way up this hill. I was beat. I pushed myself into the finish. Unfortunately I had started my watch late and I was too whooped to remember my old PR, so I still had no idea if this was a new PR.

Detroit Marathon Finisher's Pic 2017

After some brief recovery I looked up my old PR and official time and confirmed that I did indeed PR.

Final Time: 3:56:12

Detroit Marathon Finisher's Certificate 2017

Race Collections

Detroit Marathon Swag (Shirt, Medal, Buff, Bib) 2017
Detroit Marathon Back of Marathon Shirt 2017
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