My iRun Nation Spring Race Guide

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of sharing some of my favourite Spring races, as well as the favourite races of some community members on the blog of iRun Magazine. View the original post here, or scroll down and see some races that have caught my eye this Spring.

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Spring has officially sprung and whether you’re looking for a place to test our your legs and take on your first 10km or to venture across the country with your crew, here are a few Spring races that have caught my eye and hopefully yours too!

Date: April 23, 2017

Race: Banque Scotia 21K de Montréal

City: Montréal, Québec

Why this race? The Banque Scotia 21k really is the race that gives back. In 2016, the fundraising tally for the 66 Official Charities was a whopping $1,227,802.52. Now if that’s not reason enough, the first 250 people who sign up to race both Saturday and Sunday (5k +21k or 10k+ 21k) will receive a bonus long-sleeve Asics technical shirt. Double the fun all for social good.

Date: April 30, 2017

Race: Rotary Classic Run

City: Brantford, Ontario

Why this race? Sue Spence on Facebook shares “One of my fave runs to participate in is the Rotary Brantford Classic Run in Brantford Ontario. I have completed this race so many times (at least 12). It was the race that I ran my first 5 km and 10 km. I continue to support this race because the atmosphere is friendly and supportive. The community really comes out to support this great cause and ALL proceeds go back into our community.”

Date: May 6, 2017

Race: MEC Calgary Race Three

City: Calgary Alberta

Why this race? For the super low price of $15 MEC Calgary Race Three includes a 5km or 10km race with chip-timed results, bananas, finish-line massages, plus unlimited high-fives. For an extra $5 up your distance to the half marathon. Kids 1km race also available.

Date: May 6, 2017

Race: Fort Town Night Run

City: Prescott, Ontario

Why this race? Nicole Hartley on Facebook shares “I am looking forward to the Fort Town night run. Starts at Fort Wellington and goes through town hitting multiple historical points. It is in my home town of Prescott Ontario. It is a night run so swag is finisher medal shirt and headlamp.”

Date: May 7, 2017

Race: GoodLife Fitness Toronto Marathon

City: Toronto, Ontario

Why this race? The Marathon course is fast, downhill, scenic, and a Boston Qualifier. Starting at Mel Lastman Square in North York and finishing at Ontario Place, the Goodlife Fitness Toronto Marathon winds through many of the City’s great neighbourhoods.

Date: May 7, 2017

Race: BMO Vancouver Marathon 

City: Vancouver, B.C.

Why this race? From the 5K to the full marathon, every distance of the BMO Vancouver Marathon offers an impressive view. The marathon is a Boston Qualifier that travels across beaches, parks and the Seawall winding through the longest shoreline views of any race course world-wide. The half marathon is a separate course from the marathon, and weaves through distinct cultural neighbourhoods including Chinatown and Yaletown. No matter which distance you choose, the race day atmosphere in this vibrant, youthful city is one of the most energetic with positive vibes that will see you through to a fast finish.

Date: May 7, 2017

Race: Mississauga Marathon

City: Mississauga, Ontario

Why this race? The Mississauga Marathon is a point to point course that takes runners through many of the areas that encompass much of Mississauga’s beauty including racing across the Credit River, along the Mississaugua Golf and Country Club, and through some of Mississauga’s most beautiful residential neighbourhoods. The course does feature small inclines at 10km and 24km, but the ‘net’ downhill aspect of this race includes a 250′ (or 80m) drop from start to finish.

Date: May 14, 2017

Race: Sporting Life 10K

City: Toronto, Ontario

Why this race? The Sporting Life 10K runs right down the middle of Canada’s most iconic street — Yonge Street! Whether you are a novice looking for an easy 10k course, or a seasoned veteran looking to set a PB, this event is downhill, fast, and proceeds go to Camp Oochigeas (Ooch), a residential camp for kids with cancer.

Date: May 21, 2017

Race: Scotiabank Blue Nose Marathon

City: Halifax, Nova Scotia

Why this race? The Scotiabank Blue Nose Marathon is a “little hilly” as it takes participants on a marathon adventure through the vibrant streets of Halifax, Nova Scotia. This double looped course allows you to experience several of Halifax’s main attractions including Citadel Hill, Point Pleasant Park and the beautiful downtown core, as well as the experience of the whole city cheering you on – twice!

Date: May 28, 2017

Race: Saskatchewan Marathon

City: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Why this race? The 39th Saskatchewan Marathon is a Boston Qualifying race that runs along the beautiful South Saskatchewan River in Saskatoon. If a full marathon distance is too far, consider checking out the 5km kids run, 5km, 10km, or half marathon distances.

Date: May 28, 2017

Race: Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon

City: Ottawa, Ontario

Why this race? David Dazé on Facebook shares “My number one spring race is the Ottawa Marathon. It’s always very well organized and you get to run past many Ottawa landmarks like the National War Memorial, Parliament Hill, the National Gallery, and the Governor General’s Residence just to name a few. There’s great crowd support along many places of the route, as evidenced by the number of spectators who used their garden hoses to spray the runners during last year’s heat wave. The crowd is at its largest and loudest when you need it the most….during the last several kilometres of the race from the Chateau Laurier Hotel to along both sides of the Rideau Canal. The entire Race Weekend is a fantastic event. This year will be my 17th consecutive Ottawa Marathon and I can’t wait!”

Date: May 28, 2017

Race: Scotiabank Calgary Marathon

City: Calgary, AB

Why this race?  In celebration of Canada’s 150 anniversary the Scotiabank Calgary Marathon teamed up with Canadian artist David Crighton on the design of the commemorative race shirts and medals.  While the ultra distance is for a select crew, the Confederation 150-KM ultra-marathon is one of the first urban ultra courses of its kind. With a team relay option for the 150KM, you may want to grab you your run crew and go the distance on this challenging urban adventure. Race weekend also includes the marathon, half marathon, 10K and a family fun run and kids marathon, keeping the whole family active all weekend long.

Date: May 28, 2017

Race: Royal Canadian Air Force Run

City: Winnipeg, Manitoba

Why this race? Winnipeg is the home of the Royal Canadian Air Force and each year they invite members of the public to join them on a run along the 17 Wing Flight Line and through the base. Proceeds from the run will go to support ill and injured RCAF troops and families. Course options include a half-marathon, half-marathon relay, 10k, 5k, or 3k family fun run/walk.

Date: June 3, 2017

Race: Whistler Half Marathon

City: Whistler, British Columbia

Why this race? With towering glacier capped mountains as the backdrop, this scenic half marathon showcases all that Whistler is – an amazing town nestled in the coast mountains of BC. Looking for extra training motivation? Check out the Whistler Half Marathon playlist on Spotify.

Date: June 17, 2017

Race: Niagara Ultra

City: Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario

Why this race? The 25th Niagara Ultra follows the Niagara River Parkway from Niagara-on-the-Lake past Fort George and on to Niagara Falls and back. The route is very scenic as you run in continuous view of the Great River and turn around at Niagara Falls. Martin Miksovsy on Facebook shares “Niagara on the Lake Ultra/Half Marathon, simply for its scenic route and the generosity of racers that donate to the Bruce Trail conservatory.”

 

Race Report: Chilly Half Marathon

On Sunday March 5th I did my first race of the season, the first of 4 half marathons on the schedule, the Chilly Half Marathon.

My training hadn’t been ideal after a week+ with the flu and a couple weeks away from the long run because of work, so personally my expectations weren’t high – my coach on the other hand expected much more and left me with two words as I approached the start line  “be aggressive”. FYI: Me and “aggressive” don’t have a great relationship. I hate having to “sit” in the uncomfortable feeling of a “push” and to do it for up to 2 hours – no thanks! So I really wasn’t excited about what was in store.

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My goal pace according to coach was 5:30, the goal pace I set for myself was 5:40. I ran the first 2 km easily. It was FREEZING cold (like seriously why is this race always SO COLD). And when I’d look at my watch my pace was around 5:20, I knew in the end I might be paying for it being to tired, so found myself going between thoughts of slowing back to 5:30 (which I did), and just running at that pace because it felt OK. I kept my eye on my watch and kept trying to slow myself down.

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There was a head wind after the first turn as we headed back towards downtown Burlington along the beach strip. It was cold and windy and felt tough. The crowds in the downtown area were lively as we made our way along the short rollers. This course is a double out and back with one side being much longer. This has advantages and disadvantages as it’s a long time without any turns of excitement. So good, because it’s quick and easy to know where you are, bad because it’s sometimes boooring.

I started to feel some pain/tightening in my left inner thigh around 12km, then my left glute, and eventually my left ITband. As I haven’t been feeling great my strength training hasn’t been consistent and my little weaknesses are starting to add up. I just kept focusing on my knee lift and keeping my left ankle (the one I sprain all. the. time.) straight, something I’ve been working on with the Runners Academy for the past three weeks. I’ve found recently during my training runs that focusing on better running form is making me faster – because I’m running more effectively, although I need to keep it in mind until it becomes second nature. My plan: whenever my watch would beep for km or I thought of it I’d count myself 30 seconds of a stronger knee left during my stride.

Around 17km I started to slow down (5:39- so not actually as slow as I thought). I got passed by some friends I started with and began regretting the 5:20 at the start thinking it was doing me in. I started doing my numbers like crazy in my mind – knowing I might be close to my 1:55 if I could just get myself back under 5:30. My mind was racing to make this happen. Be Aggressive.

I ran upon this old dude who seemed to be holding a solid 5:25, so tucked in behind him like a shadow and held on and it felt ugly.

My brain kept trying to convince me to slow down – as I mentioned, I am pretty sure I intentionally do everything I can to avoid that uncomfortable spot I need to be in to “be aggressive”.

After two km behind this old dude and only 2 km to the finish I pulled ahead and turned my music on crazy loud to get to the end. I don’t usually run with music – spent 4 years not, but I did in Barbados and it was a good distraction for my brain to disconnect from my body. My finish line jam – click here.

So I grinded out that last km at 5:16 and finished at 1:56 (a 5:30 pace – guess coach knows) – just off my personal best, a time set here in 2013 for my seconded fastest half marathon.

I’m happy with how I raced. I’m glad that I now have an accurate race pace to apply to my training, and I look forward to this upcoming season and finally chasing down that PB.

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Race Recap: Famous Canadian Beer Run

On Sunday September 18th I had the pleasure of being part of the Brew Crew at the first official Famous Canadian Beer Run.

img_4302Hundreds of beer and running enthusiasts ran around Ontario Place for a 5K run-meets-craft beer and food festival. This was the first race of its kind in Toronto, pairing participants’ passion for running and love of a post-run cold one.

Being part of the “Brew Crew” didn’t require me to “pace” or anything serious – it was in fact the opposite or “serious”, my goal was to dress up and help runners have a blast and well at a themed run like this it was very easy to do.

img_4346This run route was awesome. The route ventured around and through Ontario Place, where we checked out the scenic lake and city skyline views while touring the east and west islands. We definitely went to places in Ontario I had never been, and some I haven’t seen for many years. In addition, we were also treated to a preview of the art installations which were set up as part of the in/future art experience taking place simultaneously.

Post-run participants kicked back, danced, and waited in line at the Craft Beer and Food Festival. As part of the race entry we were given free beer tickets for samples of the finest craft brews from Ontario brewers, as well as  gourmet food from the city’s top food trucks. These were also available for purchase (cash only). Live entertainment also took place at the Heritage Square post-race party.

The $50 run entry was a great value which included

  • Entry into post-run Craft Beer & Food Festival
  • 4 beer/beverage chips (good for two 8 oz. beers, or four 4 oz. beer samples)
  • Commemorative beer stein
  • Run t-shirt
  • Customized race bib
  • Race kit filled with samples

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The run did have a few logistical problems resulting from lack of volunteers and being a first time experience. The lines everywhere were very long. Registration had to be checked when entering Ontario Place as there were two types of tickets – the run – the festival – so they had to confirm everyone had paid. Once you were in the park we lined up again and this time it was to get our race kits. Had the bib numbers been emailed prior, or even a link to check them ourselves online, we would’ve saved time. More volunteers could’ve helped more things along here as well. As a result of these two lines the start of the race was delayed and all subsequent waves were pushed back. The wave starts were pretty relaxed and even with these lines people were in great spirits.

Now the other problem…the 5km run route was only 4.3km long. Obviously not great, but this was a run, not a race, and it wasn’t timed at all, BUT integrity is important and I think this is a big mistake, but one that can easily be fixed for next year.

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The run was promoted really well, had a great route, and a wonderful atmosphere and energy. Even with these two hiccups, the runners had great attitudes and very few people were getting upset. I’m sure if the run happens again they will be on top of these two mishaps and so I would highly suggest anyone who likes beer gets in on this event. Bring your friends, dress up, and have an awesome afternoon.