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Hambletonian Blog

Craig Stokes, Why I Run The Hambletonian

Craig Stokes

Craig Stokes nears the 25-mile mark at the 2014 Hambletonian Marathon.

I have been running consistently for about ten years. The first six years were spent mainly on a treadmill and I occasionally would set foot outside. It was just a way to keep in shape and maintain a decent weight.

In March 2012, however, I signed up for the Shamrock Run in Kingston. The adrenaline from the competition was overwhelming. I was hooked! I completed two 10k races and a half marathon by mid June and signed up for the Hartford Marathon for that fall.

Six months after that first two-mile fun run, I had completed my first marathon in 4:15:58.

I run because it is an essential part of me. It makes me feel incredible, it keeps me sane, and it challenges me every single day.

I run six days per week with Wednesday as my day off. You do not want to be around me on Wednesdays. I don’t know what to do with myself.

I ran the Hambletonian Marathon in 2014. Let me tell you, this is a tough course. That hill at mile 16 is as bad as advertised, but of my five marathons, my time of 4:01:49 ranks as my personal best. Last year, I was fortunate enough to get a spot in the New York City Marathon. Participating in this iconic event was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

However, as a marathon, it was very difficult. The logistics (subway, ferry, bus to Staten Island) and the waiting around to start were terrible. Don’t get me started on how expensive it is to run NYC.

Having run two large marathons, Philadelphia and NYC, I have realized that I am more of a small marathon kind of guy. Those two marathons, just by the nature of their size, boast of incredible fan support and energy.

Nevertheless, as a race, give me the low-key, manageable, reasonably-priced Hambletonian any day.

I can sleep in my own bed and go home to collapse on my own floor afterwards. I have convinced two friends to join me this year, something that is all but impossible in NYC. I am half way through training and I am shooting for under four hours this time.

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