See lot of runners on the flyovers in Chennai and other non-hilly cities? They are probably participating in the upcoming Airtel Hyderabad Marathon on Aug 26th. Airtel Hyderabad Marathon is considered the toughest city marathon due to its elevation profile.
The below is the elevation map of the half marathon.
15 minutes before you start the race, consume an energy gel. This is because it takes 10-15 minutes to digest and it will be right in time for a climb that starts from 2.5 km.
After starting with a flat 0.55 km you will face a 400 m long flyover (ascends & descends equally on either side) with a 1.4 % gradient from 0.55 km to .95 km (climb) and 0.95 km to 1.35 km (descend). A flat stretch up to 2.5 km, follows after you descend the flyover.
Starting from 2.5 km to 7.36 km, you will face a 71 m elevation gain with a 1.4% gradient which is going to be more or less a constant climb except 1 or 2 metre descent (not considerable) here and there. Running 10 sec to 15 sec per km slower than your HM pace. At times, your pace will be 20 sec slower per km but fret not, you have a lot remaining in the course.
From 7.36 km to 8.8 km is a rolling climb type of terrain with a 7 m gain in altitude. Carrying your own salt capsules is better as we didn’t find electrolyte drink in the last few years. However, the aid stations are really well manned and supported by the volunteers throughout the course. You can find a lot of banana and energy drink but reiterating you to carry some salt capsules.
Starting from the 9th km and ending at 11.6 km mark is a grand descent of -1.4% gradient. It is best to consume an energy gel at the start of this descent. The general mistake that we commit is running fast on the downhill and smashing the quadriceps. Don’t blast your quads by running fast on this particular downhill. Control your excitement here; you are just halfway through the race. However, speeding slightly faster than HM pace will not harm you much. Right choice is to run at the feel of your quadriceps. Hold your pace and wait for the next uphill and downhill. By the time, you are at the 11.9 km mark your energy gel would be digested and ready to fire you up for the next climb.
11.9 km – 14.5 km (32 m ascent with 1.1% gradient): This is a less steep climb compared to the first one. Running 5 sec to 10 sec per km slower than your HM pace will take you to the hill top
14.5 km – 14.8 km (6 m descent -1.8% gradient) & 14.8 km – 15.1 km (7 m ascent, 2.4% gradient)
The 600 m stretch between 14.5 km & 15.1 km is a rolling terrain. You will be able to see people on top of the other hill from here. If you are thinking about running a personal best this is the right descent to use and the wrong descent to run fast. The 14.8 to 15.1 km is the steepest climb of the event albeit just a 300 m distance, can burn your fuel and accumulate a lot of lactate if pacing is calculated wrong here.
From 15.1 km mark to 16.7 km is a fast descent. Consume an energy gel here. This is the stretch to run as fast as you can but still maintain sub threshold heart rate. You can smash your quadriceps and need not hold back as this is the last descent in your race and the way forward is all going to be up hill.
16.7 km -18.2 km – (27 m gain in elevation, 1.6% gradient): The last 5 km of the race, it doesn’t matter even if you go reach threshold heart rate. Try to keep up with your HM target pace.
18.2 km -18.6 km – a short breather stretch with a gradual descent. You can run faster than your HM pace in this stretch.
Starting from 18.6 km to 20.3 km is a gradual climb of 1% gradient with a total elevation gain of just 16 metre (1.5 times a flyover; putting that into perspective)
The home stretch: 20.2 km to finish – is partly a short descent & partly flat. If you are a city based and a plains runner and if you are still alive on the course, RUN FAST, faster than your 10 km pace.
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All the best