Hospital Hill

This Blog used to be called, “Hospital Hill Training Blog & Whatever Else” but anyway… the name changes depending on what race I’m running.

What doesn’t change is how awesome Hospital Hill is… I love this race!

Below are some race reports / thoughts about HH.

Hospital Hill 2007:

The alarm is set for 3:42 am, and lying in bed finally, at about 11:30 – my mind is racing with thoughts and sort of in a half dream state of strange imaginations about the day to come. By about 12:15 or so I’m drifting in and out of a fitful sleep… waking at 1:20, and again facing fitful imaginations before finally being awakened at the time set. I hit snooze once and then got up.

Made a pot of coffee and had a cup. Grabbed everything… gel, 2 power bars, ipod, directions, reciept, wallet, cell phone, keys, etc. The night before I’d set out socks, shoes, shorts (had to wash and dry them), and blue nike shirt that went well with the shorts.

Well I leave about 4:10 or so. Get there pretty easily not much traffic in the morning.

Get to the parking garage about 3 minutes till… and head in to crown center. Lo and behold I am the first one there. They are just getting set up and I hand over my registration and get my packet. For the next hour I alternately go through the packet contents, sit in my car, and roam about the top level of crown center. Now its 6. Still an hour to go. It finally starts to pick up a little bit with people coming in and actually getting a little busy. Parking garage still isn’t remotely full… I could have come at 6:20 or so. Oh well… next year.

I start roaming outside and doing some preliminary stretches… run into the guy. Peed a million times… debated endlessly about what to take (ultimately left sunglasses in car as sky was overcast) pinned my car key in my pocket with an extra safety pin.

I stretch a lot more… find and talk to “The Dad” 2:00 pace guy. What a really nice guy. By the book runner too… a phenomenon.

So… the race finally starts about 7:03. We start jogging… stop… start up again and this time it keeps going!!

Mile 1:

Damn… the pace seems to fast to be a 9 minute pace… by 2:00 pace guy is stretching it out seemingly…. my shoulder is stitching… ouch… damn. I’m sweating pretty good too.

Mile 2:

Persevering… guess I will be ok but still unsure. See Rich Heitkamp and talk to him for a while… leisurely…feeling better but my pace guy is well ahead and pulling even further away.

Mile 3:

Steady… continuing to follow my pace leader by a fair distance, deciding to catch up occasionally, but never really getting it all the way. There are a few good hills but I’m not really phased… I trained hard.

Mile 4:

Repeat mile 3.

Mile 5:

Repeat mile 4.

Mile 6:

I catch up, talk to, and pass my pace leader just feeling fine enough to do so. I’m Feeling moderately tired, but still quite good too. I guess I’ll finish this just fine after all!

Mile 7:

I’m feeling hungry and eat my gel with a water.

Mile 9-11:

My knees are hurting. Pace is slow… someone asks pace… answer: 9:15. Shit… I need to speed up a little. I pass a few people and again the question is… whats the pace? 8:56. There we go… much better. But I pass them too.

Mile 12-13:

Wow this thing just keeps on going. And there is one little hill at the end that is a bitch, but I never stopped once on any hill. Once I topped this I sped it up quite a bit and ran it all the way in. Nearly burst into tears at the end… almost uncontrollable. I can’t believe I did it. It’s over. I just love it. Just love it!!!!

Hospital Hill 2008:

Guess I should have looked at this to see that I could have gone at 6:20… anyway… without referencing this I set the alarm for 4:47.. hoping to leave here around 5 and get there before 6… thats pretty much how it happened. Directions were a little different so I ended up parking in the Hyatt before moving to Crown Center… across from Crown center…! haha.

Before the race I see Kory Cool… the 2007 winner, Tad, Gary Gribble… feel in very high spirits but I really didn’t train that hard… so slightly concerned about the race… we’ll see! Didn’t stretch as well as last year either… but did decently enough.

Started!! Got to to the start line faster, was going well… there with the 1:50 pace leader. 4 gabby girls… fun! Talked a little with the pace leader who got a free 405! Wasn’t having any stictching issues or anything but I was sweating a lot … was warm!

Seems like there were a LOT more hills this time… but there wasn’t the one at the very end thankfully… I guess it was the same as last year… but I just need to train harder next year!!

Saw Barefoot Rick about mile 7… about mile 8 or 9 I passed my pace leader who said he was two minutes off the pace… but I passed him and kept going… I was BEAT going up some of those hills… walked through all the aid stations and was only too happy to get to them. I must not have done THAT well last year if I beat that time and felt like I did today! Those hills were BRUTAL!! but I persevered. Finished in 1:54:47 ( think the clock said 1:55:21) So I was very happy about that!!

Hospital Hill 2009:


This was my third time doing Hospital Hill, and the best yet (time wise that is). The first time I ran it will likely always be the best – what an amazing day that was!! This year – as enjoyable as Hospital Hill was on some levels, in some ways it was almost a job; an obligation I was fulfilling rather than a joyful voluntary action. This was due to two things: one – the fact that I had made the blog into the Hospital Hill training blog (which alone would have been fine) and two, the fact that I ran a full marathon exactly one week prior which necessarily abandoned all Hospital Hill specific training and planning.

The week leading up to Hospital Hill – I could barely walk for the onset of stiffness and soreness from running 26.2 miles. It was all I could do to maintain the casual façade of the ability to walk normal. I could barely descend down stairs of any sort – going up wasn’t as bad though…. But I digress… I think I’ve covered a lot of that. Onto the race!!!!!!

This is the fifth time I’ve driven to Kansas City in the morning dark for a race. It’s always such a pleasant time; a restless anticipation massaged easily by the eerie calm of a deserted interstate and the unique off-topic radio talk show subjects of the small hours. Arriving at Crown Center – just a couple minutes after 6 – (I referenced my blog this time!) was about perfect. Got a spot… went and grabbed my packet – I believe I ran into my friend Tad yet again (saw him down there last year too, if not at the marathon too).

Noticed that there were quite a few elite runners/Kenyans milling about – and here’s one thing of note. Ok so in line at the port-o-pots… I had timed it so that I reached the front of the line at about 6:53am – just enough time to use it and try to find a spot in the crowd behind the start line. Well after waiting in line for about 10 minutes, one of the elite runners approaches the front of the line where I’m standing and pleads with me in broken English (actually just gestures mostly and a “please” or “ok?”) to cut to the front of the line. At the time, I felt it wouldn’t be fair to everyone else who waited in line – but I was also unwilling to make a decision and thus stalled for a brief moment until my time came up and I referred him to the man behind me. Now when I exited the stall a few moments later he was gone – so the man must have let him in. In retrospect – I’m figuring hmmm maybe I should have let him in. He’s an elite athlete with a chance to win the race. For me, I’m hoping to finish in the top 3rd – which ends up being about 600th. But hey – maybe the guy behind me (a non-kenyan) is hoping to win too. Maybe he’s the next Ryan Hall. I guess I could have referred him (the elite guy) to Washington Park and a tree – provided he had spoken English…

OK so now I’ve peed and trying to squeeze in behind the start line. This place is PACKED!! The starting line used to be further down on Grand I think… regardless of where it used to be its now up flush with the uh… center of Crown Center. It’s so jam packed that even runners – who usually get along great – are getting a little testy. Soon enough though the gun sounds… and everyone’s off!

Despite the crazy crowd it actually thins out pretty quickly. Nothing too much of note to begin with. At about mile three one of those crazy Kenyans goes FLYING past me – this action is quite crazy because there is no way he could ever catch up with the front of the pack if he was behind me at mile three. I think he must have missed the gun or been in the bathroom. Just one of those things that makes you wonder… about a mile later saw him again though. He must have realized his error – or who the heck knows what… saw him walking back against the grain of runners. Huh?

Well the race continues. As it continues I realize a couple of things. One thing actually I noticed right away. My shoes are tied too tight!!!! Damnit!! Well did I stop to remedy this? Hell no… just kept running. What else? I forgot to bring energy gels!!!!! The water stops are welcome diversions… at each one I pretend they’ll fuel me to keep me going – they’ll refresh me and make it stop hurting — did I mention I was trying to keep a good pace and my shoes were too tight?

Well I didn’t actually realize I didn’t bring gels (I did *bring* them — they were in the car… why oh why did I leave them there…) until about mile 7 or 10. Somewhere in there I was thinking – “another water stop??? UGH!” Don’t get me wrong – I’m grateful for the water stops but at this point my stomach wanted something else besides water/powerade. I think I’d really had enough (liquid hydration) at this point and realized that it *wasn’t* making the pain stop…

Ok – forget about all that for a moment as I come to the highlight of the race report. A spectacle I’ve not witnessed before and one I hope I don’t witness again.

Running south on Rockhill Road, just before the 7 mile marker is a major intersection, 63rd St. Ahead of me there is some commotion… I realize that the police officer posted to halt traffic is yelling about something… and as I come closer I see her white gloved hand palm facing the runners in a halt gesture and she’s screaming “STOP!!!” — to the runners. I hear her say “I realize there is a race going on, but I’ve GOT to let some traffic through.” Now runners know to yield to emergency vehicles but from what I could see after a quick glance was about 6 cars on one side and a couple on the other… there was a school bus though. Regardless… she should have been stopping traffic, not runners. I know it had to have been a lenghty delay because let me tell you even at mile 7 there was a MOB of runners around this lady. Well I ran straight through… she was screaming at me, everyone to stop and I just kept on running. I was LITERALLY the LAST one past her….

–to be continued– (unfortunately it was never continued)

Hospital Hill 2010:

Hospital Hill started with Hospital Hill week on Monday the 31st. With my first two Half Marathons of the year out of the way, including the highly anticipated home town Half (Leavenworth’s Five Trails Half Marathon), Hospital Hill was finally the center of attention. I went on a long training run wearing my Hospital hill tech shirt, I wore another around the house, and just generally began to get excited for the race.

I went running Monday afternoon, at high noon, very hot out and managed to eek out 7 miles. That was the last training run I went on before race day, but I felt it sufficient. Friday night the plan was as always, to have a pasta dinner — but we opted instead for convenience sake – Mexican. Well I decided to get some carbs from beers then. A Corona with dinner and two (or was it three?) Boulevard Wheats later was adequate I felt.

After an uneventful evening I attempted to sleep for a few hours, but I must have been hit with some anxiety because I don’t think I managed to fall asleep until after 1am. Four scant hours later I woke to my alarm and got ready.

A cup of coffee and bowl of cereal is my usual and this morning I didn’t adjust that formula – however I’ll have to say: Wheaties Fuel is not good. It’s so gross in fact, I nearly vomited standing over the sink while trying to choke some down. That was my third and final attempt at it. The taste is a cinnamon I think – which in and of itself is terrible, but the texture is what’s even worse. Anyway, I think I’m sticking with the regular Wheaties from now on.

— Unfortunately this was never continued either!! Bummer since I’ll now always wonder how I got that great 1:48 time.

Hospital Hill 2011:


Hospital Hill Run 2012

Another year done, sixth in a row for me. In many ways the course and event were the same but from year to year there are a few things that change…

This year the start corrals were instituted. They seemed to be somewhat “soft” barriers (before the race started) as they would allow you to cross over into another corral if you really wanted to no problem — but there was the suggestion to stay put. I imagine most people did… after all, they were organized where runners had volunteered that they would be running / finishing in that time period. When I registered I chose 1:53 for my projected finish time. A little later on I decided I was going to go for 1:48. My original prediction put me in corral C while my new goal was corral B. My bib said “C” but I had no trouble crossing the rope into B and starting there.

I wanted to line up with the 1:50 group and then stay with them and then end up finishing a couple minutes ahead of them. I further supposed the best course of action would be to line up in between the 1:45 group and the 1:50 group and see neither one again… for the most part that is exactly what happened.

For those curious – the corrals did indeed have staggered starts. Corral A started at approximately 7:00. Corral B at 7:01 – and presumably – Corral C at 7:02, etc, etc. From what I saw everyone took this in stride as it was communicated to the crowd right before it happened. There was no complaining that I saw and complete cooperation – and that’s great of course! Perhaps that what was expected – and you would hope it would be… I only really have one thing to compare it to which was the Chicago Marathon I ran last year… In THAT race the human wall that separated the Seeded Corrals from the open corral was nearly trampled as it began to burst at the seams behind me. Most reasonable runners realize that your chip time is your official time, your PR time, and clock time just becomes another cool anecdote – so starting 5 minutes after 7:00 is fine even — time doesn’t start for you until you’re across the line.

Ok – so it went smoothly. How did it compare to years past? I never had any trouble in years past really although in one respect I would say it was greatly improved. That is, the general density and congestion even before the race started. Usually it’s cram-packed shoulder to shoulder and this year there definitely felt as if there was breathing room – everywhere! Sure it was still crowded but you actually had room to sit down and stretch if you wanted and this didn’t relinquish – right up to the start of the race. There was such a difference in fact that I wondered if the announced record field was actually in fact smaller than past years – it wasn’t. There were 6,600+ lined up.

So I started at 7:01 with corral B. One fun aspect over the first couple of miles was every time we crested a hill and I got a look at the field in front of me there was the usual mass of runners but this year there was a nice huge gap with a scattered few runners in-between it and then the mass of the “A” corral runners.

Another thing I noticed is that when it was the mass start… you’d immediately be passing people left and right and having people sprinting past you right and left as everyone vied for their position and pacing rhythm…  fading from their overly ambitious start position or latecomers galloping forward to unite with likewise runners and pace teams — with the corral start it seemed as if most people were going one speed… this made it a little more difficult to pass as no obvious lanes presented themselves, but everyone was going at least an adequate speed I suppose. I went out fast I thought, perhaps too fast remembering past instances of going out to strong early and past pacing teams that went out moderately and worked into good paces eventually. I was a little unsure and in a sort of mode where I was treating Hospital Hill with special care… certainly didn’t want to overdo it too early as I believe I did the year prior when I missed my goal by 8 minutes or so.

I was ahead of the 1:45 and 1:50 pace groups from Corral B through mile 4 or 5. Here 1:45 passed me, but that was mostly the plan… finish between them and 1:50. They actually looked pretty serious as they passed me in formation… some serious runners there. I think now, that I probably could have hung with them the rest of the way no problem… but I was just still a little apprehensive. I kept my steady non-pace team pace.

This being my sixth HHR I really feel like I know the course well now. I looked upon every mile with recognition and memories of past years… every stretch is quite familiar and I’m continually pleasantly surprised to encounter them all as I turn corners and crest hills with a smile on my face. Each landmark a silent mile marker.

Well 1:45 was passed and I never saw them again, and the group that I didn’t want to catch me, the 1:50 group I never saw again either. It all went according to plan! I hit the mile 5 aid station and downed a gel, a full cup of gatorade — (which was mixed SO tightly it was very salty! YUM!), and even some water and walked for a brief moment. After this I was fully refreshed and also quite warmed up. The temperature was absolutely perfect and for the remainder of the race I never once felt a twinge of a cramp, never once was “beat” on a hill or had to slow due to any sort of uncomfortable sensation whatsoever… in short… I felt great! There was a point… around mile 7 – Meyer and Brookside – where last year… I was soooooo grateful for buckets of ice waiting there which I scooped up handfuls of and melted them on my forehead and neck… which helped to cool me down greatly. Here this day however, I daresay I was just moderately sweating and not at all hot or tired or uncomfortable.

The weather was so perfect I guess I should have just gone for an overall Half Marathon PR after all… but I was still well on track to run a nice HHR PR, so that’s what I stuck with. Then even at mile 11 or so I felt as if I had a second wind and picked it up a little. Broadway hill wasn’t too bad this time… Trinity hill I knew would be there… and I heard someone remark it cruel… yes it kinda is… but I bounded up it and ran it in at a very brisk but comfortable pace. It was here in 2008 I believe I over exerted myself and had some blood vessels in my calves pop and cramp as I ran the final 400m or — attempted to sprint in some fashion… that was a scary moment then… but not so this time.

I ran it in comfortably and knew what I had awaiting me… Three Little Pigs BBQ, a beer (sadly not boulevard, but I suppose I’ll drink any free beer), flip flops, etc.

In the eating area was live video of people crossing the finish line and an enthusiastic DJ. Last year there was a band here… but the DJ was sufficient I think. Speaking of bands there were a few out on the course and they were enjoyable. The one though, shortly after the turn onto Brookside… was the same spot this year and last in which I got a big adrenaline boost. That’s the spot :)

Well, anyway… watching this live video it occurred to me that Hospital Hill is just this technologically bleeding edge, over the top, commercialized, blaring, furious heart pounding, glamorous, in your face, concrete, trendy blue, tasty, better than well done, furiously organized, bright, new-and-improved event! Hospital Hill Run has some of the best swag ever too that is just, as I’ve said before, bombastic. There is nothing wrong with any of those adjectives either…. Hospital Hill is old, storied, it is-what-it-is and its one of the best pulled off and organized races from top to bottom anywhere. I guess I have this perfect scent of it in my mind’s eye but it’s difficult to convey. You’ll just have to run it yourself six times and see what you think.

Hospital Hill 2013

I earned a new PR (overall, not just for HH) and felt super great at the finish: no cramping at all & retained the ability to walk normally! Earning the PR is huge – that alone means almost everything went right.

-Training done right:
– Long runs interspersed with sufficient keep-fit runs
– Easy Half-Marathon completed 5 weeks out
– 15 mile training run completed 4 weeks out
– Super hard (yes, a little tougher than HH) completed 2 weeks out
– Much rest the week leading up to race

-Eating done right:
– Nice big pasta dinner (At Luigi’s in Leavenworth) night before race.
– 4 boulevard wheat beers night before race (good carbs!)
– Bananas (for potassium!) eaten in sufficient quantities
– Wheaties for breakfast morning of race! (with sliced Banana)
– 1/2 an energy drink + gatorade + protein bar before race

– Stayed with kick-ass pacer (for most of the race – see 1:45 Matt H.) – THANKS MATT!
– Hit all water stops interchanging gatorade / water at each
– 3 salt tabs (s-caps/electrolyte pills) over each 3rd of race
– Mile 9 gel

– Honestly, could it have been any more perfect?

– It’s Kansas City.
– It’s Hospital Hill.
– ‘Nuff said!

So – thank you weather for cooperating. The one unknown variable that played out perfectly.

Here’s the re-cap to relive later:

I woke feeling quite tired and not really sure if I wanted to do this or not actually… but I knew I’d be feeling better soon so I started to get up and ready. Ate my wheaties with banana slices (yum! so much better than wheaties fuel… BARF) and casually walked out the door with a handful of supplies, forgetting nothing this year, around 5:30am.

Hospital Hill 2014

This one was run 100% non-competitively as I ran it all with my friend. It rained the entire race but I didn’t mind it. Nice to have some varying weather. He often urged me to go on ahead but we both finished I believe 1:59:00 on the dot.

Hospital Hill 2015

Well I PRed by nearly two minutes… here’s a great bit of fun. I had the 2013 report directly above in draft format unpublished — great! Glad I wrote that. I’ve been pretty negligent about writing on the blog at all — and some of that is sad because I go back and look at these past race reports and I can really glean some good info from them! Well… perhaps I shall start writing again starting now!

Ok… so that out of the way yes I PRed by nearly two minutes, but I was somehow disappointed I didn’t achieve my real goal of 1:39:XX. Oh — not TOO disappointed, just a little! I had another great day at Hospital Hill. I left the start line with the 1:40 pace group and stuck with them until about mile 3 when they began to disappear. By mile 4 I believe, and this is where my pace groups leave me EVERY year LOL they were really pulling away and shortly after that they were gone!

No matter I was feeling really pretty good throughout the entire race and ran it in very strong. I had no cramping at all and no excessive soreness or anything… compared to say the 2015 20miler at Wyco this past February where I was absolutely SHOT after the run.

Weather was very good. Slightly sticky but a couple times a nice cool breeze crept in, and only minimal raining towards the end.

I’m really curious what’s in store for next year!

Hospital Hill NUMBERS

Huge increase in 2013 to largest field ever; slight dip in 5k

Participation Year by Year:

Year Total Half 10k 5k Increase
2006 2692 1339 594 759
2007 3036 1545 710 781 +344
2008 3434 1823 817 794 +398
2009 4829 2400 1273 1156 +1395
2010 6176 2970 1528 1678 +1347
2011 6584 3172 1410 2002 +406
2012 6610 3355 1531 1724 +26
2013 7668 4286 1733 1649 +1058
2014 6648 3187 1564 1897 -1020
2015 6926 3227 1852 1847 +278
2016 5006 2220 1216 1570 -1920



Year Date Time Overall Age Gender Pace Temp @ 7am
HH 07 6/2/2007 1:56:32 637/1545 59/105 479/955 8:54
41% 56% 50%
HH 08 6/7/2008 1:54:57 390/1823 41/111 290/993 8:47 80
21% 36% 29%
HH 09 6/6/2009 1:51:37 668/2400 102/204 521/1267 8:32 71
27% 50% 41%
HH 10 6/5/2010 1:48:42 443/2970 72/258 360/1502 8:18 78
15% 28% 24%
HH 11 6/4/2011 1:54:51 595/3164 90/278 450/1604 8:46 80
18% 32% 28%
HH 12 6/2/2012 1:47:23 660/3348 83/246 514/1695 8:12 58
19% 33% 30%
HH 13 6/1/2013 1:43:32 483/4286 72/331 402/1979 7:54 63
11% 28% 20%
HH 14 6/7/2014 1:59:00 994/3187 129/228 692/1528 9:04 70
31% 57% 45%
HH 15 6/6/2015 1:41:47 157/2642 24/184 140/1209 7:44 70
6% 13% 12%
HH 16 6/4/2015 1:42:32 144/2220 18/123 124/1006 7:50 65
6% 14% 12%