Date: Tues. June 30, 2009.
Time: 7 p.m.
Weather: Rain/overcast/sun 19 degrees c.
Timing method: Championchip
The Peach Bud run seemed to be packaged as an early Canada Day celebration for the local running community. How else can one explain the event’s seemingly strategic weeknight start time, which was scheduled on the eve of our nation’s birthday?
If that was the plan, then it brought about a positive omen for the evening. For example, there was the initial presence of storm clouds that dumped heavy rain on the highways while I was enroute to Grimsby, a quiet town nestled in between Stoney Creek and Niagara-on-the-Lake. Rain continued to fall in the start line area right up until the start of the 5km race (7pm), when sunshine peaked through the dark clouds to cast a large rainbow over the start area. I regretted not having a camera at that moment, as it was a unique site to see 600+ runners start their race by running towards (and under) a rainbow.
Another good sign? The rain stopped completely for the rest of the evening, despite weather forecasts to the contrary. After a live rendition of O’Canada, the 10km race began without a drop of rain, and a seasonably cool temperature as well. The 10km event was also well attended, and the announced total of both races was 1,400 participants.
Finally, there was the race itself. The spacious, scenic route was on paved roads, and was more or less a rare single loop course, which makes it great for a PB. There were only a few moderate inclines along the way, while most of the final 4km was flat with long stretches of straight road. There were six aid stations (yes, six aid stations for a 10km, you read that correctly) to negate any need of a water bottle, though the Gatorade tasted a bit watered down in spots.
The marshalling on the course was well done, and although some local residents were stuck in traffic jams due to the road closures, I did not hear a single honk or complaint. Such patience is astonishing to anyone who has run a race in the GTA, where drivers honk and yell at runners for closing down their streets. To all Grimsby commuters who calmly put up with the inconvenience that evening — you have my sincere thanks for being a class act!
After collecting a finishing medal, there was plenty of space inside the local arena for post-race activities. Post-race food was kept to the basics (water, gatorade, bagels and fruit), but was still sufficient. I saw at least one other 10km runner wearing Running Free colours, but did not recognize any team member names in the results.
In summary, this race was a pleasant surprise overall. The great route, small town atmosphere and polished organization made this event one of my “Race of the Year” candidates — easily the best race I ran in the first half of 2009. If organizers can keep the route intact, I highly recommend the Peach Bud for 2010.