Warrnambool athlete finds a successful plan B in US marathon search

WARRNAMBOOL runner Alison Wilson has finally conquered an American marathon.

Wilson was the fifth woman home, and first in her age group, in the 42.2-kilometre Harrisburg Marathon in Pennsylvania.

The 35-year-old teacher finished in three hours, nine minutes and 13 seconds after battling cramps for the final eight kilometres.

The race marked the latest instalment in what has become a dramatic trip to the United States. Wilson was registered to run the New York City Marathon on November 4, but organisers cancelled the race after Hurricane Sandy tore through the city.

Determined to make the most of the once-in-a-lifetime trip, she joined the thousands of people who ran a marathon around Central Park anyway.

Wilson later signed up for Sunday’s Harrisburg Marathon. She was one of 900 last-minute entries as the field swelled to 2200. 

The contrast was stark but it didn’t matter to Wilson, who said Harrisburg residents created a party-like atmosphere similar to what the iconic New York event is renowned for.

“I got to do the Central Park run last week, I got all the atmosphere of the New York Marathon through that,” she said.

“Today I got to do this brilliant marathon.

“Because New York was called off, the Harrisburg people wanted to make it an experience. People were yelling out the whole way.

“They organised it really well considering they didn’t have long to cater for all the new entries. It was such a fantastic atmosphere and really well run.”

Wilson said she was pleased with her time.

She had set herself to run a 3.05.00, but a challenging course which featured concrete paths and short, sharp hills tested even the top runners.

“I was wanting to go faster but I couldn’t,” she said.

“I’m able to walk around normally now but normally I can’t move — the cramps set me back a little. The other two marathons I’ve done I’ve hit the wall, I’ve been unable to keep up the speed.

“This time I wanted to go faster but in the last eight kilometres it was my leg cramps. Every step I was really concerned I was going to collapse.”

Wilson said she was unsure if she would enter the 2013 New York City Marathon.  

“I don’t know if I really need to. I feel like I got all the experience. Even though it wasn’t the New York Marathon, I loved it,” she said.

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