Last week I had the joy of traveling to Barbados with Tribe and Canada Running Series for the Run Barbados race series which consists of 5 races including a 1 miler, 5km, 10km, half marathon, full marathon, and 5km walk. Over the three days, Dec 1-3, of the events I participated in the 1 miler, 5km, and half marathon races.
Here’s a little recap of my experiences over the race weekend.
The 1 mile race took place at 7pm, it was 30 degrees, and pitch black out. The course was pretty straight forward (yes, I know it as only 1 mile so what would I expect but still). We pretty much just ran around the Garrison Historic Area in St.Michael which was one of the main areas of the islands 50th anniversary party two nights before.
The atmosphere was fun as they lead car was blasting Bob Marley and creating the perfect island vibe. The weather was host and just standing at the start line had me soaking before we even started. The course had very little light as the sun had set and the street lights were few and far between. It was almost unbelievable how dark it was. This also left it to be somewhat unsafe as the road contained many potholes and was very uneven.
The finish line was the same for all five racers. Finish line food and hydration included in the race experience was minimal, including water, Powerade, coconut water, as well as meals and drinks, including beer for sale. Runners and walkers of all levels and ages participated and everyone received a very nice finisher medal.
The 5km run began at 4pm on Saturday. The temperature was still hot, around 30 degrees. I spent the day hydrating (with water) while lying on the beach. Throughout the duration of our trip I used an entire bottle of sunscreen. It was so important for me to stay hydrated and sun burn free. Matt Loiselle (2009 Canadian Half Marathon champion) who was racing as staying at our hotel spent the entire day inside his hotel room keeping his body cool. It must’ve worked as he placed 3rd in the 10km.
The 5km started near the finish line and was an out and back, fairly straight with one little loop and the furthest point. We ran through Bridgetown, the downtown/tourist area in St.Michael, and it was very cool exploring this new area of the island during the race. The course at 4 water stations. At each station I took a cup to drink and cup to dunk on my head to try and manage the heat. While my goal was to go slow and have fun, I felt great on the second half deciding to pick up the intensity and pace. I ended up seconds away from my time at the Holly Jolly 5km (a down hill 5km the happens before the Santa Claus parade) so I was happy. The awards happened after every runner from the 5km and 10km had finished and this made for a late night. We went back to the hotel, grabbed dinner, and 8 hours later the next race was on!
The half marathon start time was 5am, which meant we were up way before the sun leaving for the start of the race at 3:50. As I knew our hotel wouldn’t be open from breakfast I snuck some food out the night before and had a croissant and jam, along with a banana, and Powerade for breakfast. Not ideal, but I made due with what I had and felt fine while racing. Similar to the 1 mile and 5km the race start line was a spary painted line on the good. In pitch black we took off and began on our out and back course. The full marathon did 2 of these loops. The course was pretty straight forward, had a couple hills, and some interesting sights as we ran along side the water, but also a residential area, and industrial area. Not all of the roads were closed which made for an interesting experience dodging buses and cars out on the road.
As we started before sun rise vision was a challenge again with limited street lighting, but as if a switch had been hit, roosters started crowing, and at 6am, the sun came up and the daylight was on…along with the heat. There was plenty of water/Powerade on course as well as marshals riding bikes offering gels.
Similar to the 5km I went in with the goal to complete the race and manage the heat. I set a challenge to stay under a 5:50min/km and did a great job at it, spending most time around 5:45. I felt great when I hit the half way point and tried to stick around 5:40 for the second half. This was way easier then I anticipated and raced the final three km at 5:30, a pace faster then my 5km only 8 hours prior. While I didn’t PB (remember that wasn’t my goal) it felt awesome to have my pacing so on point.
At the finish line coconut water, powerade, and popsicles available. Food and beer was available for purchase. The medals were great and recovering on the beach was truly amazing.
The race series also include a “challenge” option for those doing multiple races as I had. I wasn’t aware of the challenge until after I had registered for all there, but with my minimal training I don’t believe I would’ve run any other distances. The challenges included:
Gold Challenge – Run the Fun Mile, 10K and Marathon and receive a special commemorative gold medal.
Silver Challenge – Run the Fun Mile, 10K and 1/2 Marathon or the Fun Mile, 5K and Marathon and receive a special commemorative silver medal.
Bronze Challenge – Run the Fun Mile, 5K and 1/2 Marathon and receive a special commemorative bronze medal.
I received the bronze challenge medal.
While it certainly wasn’t my plan to make this series a regular in my schedule, we had a blast and I will be back next year. I love the island and the races were so much fun. Next time I would be sure to bring more of my own breakfast foods, or buy some there, in order to be more prepared prior to the race.
If you’re looking for a hot race, check it out, and join me in 2017!