RECAP: Detroit Free Press/TCF Bank (Virtual) Marathon

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

Running a marathon in October for me normally means strolling through the streets of Columbus on the third Sunday of the month. Unfortunately, this also means there are a TON of other races elsewhere that I don’t get to run because they are generally on the same day. The Detroit Free Press / TCF Bank Marathon is one such race – almost always happening the exact same day as my “home” race in Columbus.

This year, as I’m sure you already know, has been different. My home race in Columbus was outright cancelled with no virtual option. This opened the door for me to finally get to run a different marathon in October…even if it meant doing so virtually.

I’ve always wanted to run the Free Press Marathon. The idea of running across an international border TWICE has always been intriguing. Detroit was a fixture of my childhood as well – attending the Detroit Auto Show and cheering for a hockey team that was once my favorite, but has since been replaced. So this year, I finally got my chance to “run Detroit” and signed up for “The Supreme” challenge series – which was composed of a 1-mile run, a 5k (3.1 miles), and a full marathon.

How did it work?

Similar to my experience with a marathon series I ran in September, I was able to still get all of the experience of participating in the actual event, but was able to run the distance(s) wherever and whenever I wanted.

Race weekend was slated for October 16-18, 2020. Participants could run their respective distance(s) and post their results online any time during race weekend.

Here’s my break down of the three events: 

1 Mile – Friday, October 16

On Friday night, I went out after work to put down my 1-mile run – just a point-to-point run in my neighborhood. This was the “easy” run, but definitely the hardest effort as I was very much going for a fast time. The air was a bit brisk and I wasn’t quite ready for that, but I was still able to knock down a 6:40 mile. Not nearly my fastest, but it tells me 1) I can still get after it and 2) there’s still room to get even faster!

5k (3.1 miles) – Saturday, October 17

On Saturday, I had to work most of the day – because I work in HR and jobs don’t hire themselves. When I got home, it was time to get those miles again – this time it was knocking out my 5k. This one wasn’t so much about speed. I simply wanted to enjoy another tour around the neighborhood at a comfortable pace. This route took me through a new development and around a brand new roundabout (which I love). 3 miles under 30 minutes is always a good thing in my book.

It was also on Saturday when I received my “packet of goodies” for the Detroit Free Press/TCF Bank Marathon. Received my shirts, a common race bib that all participants received (see the Flat Preston pic below) and the medals I would earn over the course of the weekend. I was really impressed with the shirts and the medals, even though the 1-mile and the 5k medals were effectively the same medal.

Detroit Free Press/TCF Bank Marathon SWAG!

Marathon (26.2 miles) – Sunday, October 18

On Sunday, I set out fairly early to complete my 26.2 miles. Decided to run my Detroit marathon utilizing a hybrid version of the Columbus marathon course – running portions from 2004 (my first ever marathon), 2015 (my 2nd marathon ever), and 2018 (the last marathon I ran in Columbus). I’m not posting a photo of my finish time because 1) I didn’t take one, 2) my Garmin died near mile 8, and 3) honestly, the finish time wasn’t the focus of my trip. Full disclosure because I know someone will ask – my finish was in the neighborhood of 5hrs 30 min, which actually made for a really great trip around Detroit…I mean, Columbus…I mean, Detroit. Had to break my run into TWO segments…because my watch died…links are below.

First Segment – the first 8 miles (before my Garmin died)

Second Segment – the last 18 miles

Flat Preston ready to go!
My start and end point – the Ohio Statehouse
The first 8 miles…until my Garmin died! My headphones also went kaput at this point, so I had no tunes or podcasts the rest of the way.
Went over a bridge – only slightly smaller than the one in Detroit!
Also went UNDER a bridge – the closest I would get to a “tunnel” on this Detroit Marathon!
Oh hey, Governor DeWine!
Specifically took this picture for my daughter, Shalane – she loves pumpkins!
Thankfully, I felt pretty close to THIS throughout the entire run!
The remaining 18 miles of my Free Press Marathon journey
A familiar sight along my Detroit virtual marathon in Columbus – North Bank Park, where the current version of the Columbus Marathon starts and finishes!

Final Thoughts

I really enjoyed my Detroit Free Press / TCF Bank Marathon experience – even if it was a virtual one. I’d much rather have run this one in person, but getting to run at all is still a win. The organizers did a fantastic job of communicating with participants and building excitement for race weekend. They were very clear about when SWAG items would arrive and they showed up at the perfect moment during my race weekend experience.

This race, much like my last one, is definitely on my radar for 2021 – if it happens in person – and hopefully you’ll consider running it too!

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