As he finished off his first-ever full marathon, Daryl West's legs were cramped and aching, making each step towards the finish line agonizing. But as excruciating as the final kilometres were, the Whistler resident couldn't have expected his race to go much better.
Both West and fellow Whistler runner Ashley McMillan posted impressive finishes at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon held Oct. 13, and both locals came away pleased with their experience in one of the world's largest 26-mile (42.2-km) races.
McMillan placed in the top 400 overall — among the top one per cent of all finishers — with his time of two hours, 50 minutes, 43 seconds, while West clocked in at 3:27:44.
West's finish time shattered his original goal for the race, as he was thinking a three-and-a-half hour run would be "a stretch" and he was hopeful to complete the course in under 3:45.
"I figured I would be ecstatic if I was under 3:30 and annoyed if I took more than four hours," said West. "I'd not done the distance even in training, so there was a fear of the unknown for the last 10 K, and they were just killer."
With about seven kilometres left to go, West said he figured a sub-3:30 time was achievable. That's when the pain started to creep into his legs.
"I just cramped up severely in both my calves," said West, 36. "Literally, for the last seven K, I'd run 500 metres, one would cramp up and I'd have to stop and stretch. Then I'd run another 500 metres and the other one would cramp up.
"It was agony because I knew I was so close."
McMillan, an accomplished distance runner and triathlete, said he thought West's result in his first marathon was remarkable
"Very much so, I'd say," said McMillan. "He's been close to about a 1:30 on a half (marathon) ... but even so, for a first time out for a full marathon, that's quite impressive."
McMillan, who posted a top-20 finish in the BMO Vancouver Marathon earlier this year and was one of the top local Ironman finishers in Whistler in August, was pleased about his own race, too.
"It was a good outing," said McMillan. "A big-city marathon always has a nice vibe and a good atmosphere ... and it was nice to feed off the energy of the crowd as you went around."
With a relatively flat course, the U.K. transplants and co-workers had much less elevation change to deal with compared to their regular runs around the resort. McMillan said that actually posed a challenge for him.
"If you'd like to get away with a half-decent time, you don't want too many hills in there, of course," said the 40-year-old. "But at the same time, when you're pounding away for 26 miles (like) on a flat treadmill, you're using the same muscle groups ... and you can get a little more fatigued. I guess it depends where you come from — we're used to running a few more hills."
With nearly 40,000 runners finishing the event, McMillan and West were fortunate to be on the start line as both had to earn their entry into the race by way of a lottery. West said he's eager to do another major one on Chicago's scale in the future.
"It's kind of given me the appetite to go out and do more destination marathons," said West. "I'd love to go and do New York and I'd love to do my hometown one in London. With these big ones, the atmosphere, it's amazing."
McMillan, meanwhile, is planning to compete at home in Ironman Canada again in July next year, and said he'll be preparing over the winter to hopefully compete in another Ironman earlier in 2014.