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Around the Bay : March 28, 2010 – “I get it now…”

I went to Hamilton this weekend to finally learn for myself why so many people love this race.

When I had first learned about it back in 2006 as a tough 30k course in Hamilton notorious for wind, rain, and often miserable weather, I think I vowed to myself that I would never do it…

Finally though, curiosity gets the better of you and you need to see for yourself.  

What is it about this race that can possibly attract 10,000+ runners every year??  I was going to find out.

I ran with a friend from Ottawa and both of us were training through the race with no plans for any taper or rest before-hand.The plan was to make it a “marathon pace” training run and cover the 30km at a 4:20 – 4:30 / km pace landing somewhere between 2:10 and 2:15 with a negative split despite the hills on the back half.

We started really far back in the pack and took a while to get moving, hitting the first km marker at 5:40… from there, we moved up to 4:30/km and eventually settled into 4:20/km until we were running with the 2:15 rabbit and his (at that time) sizeable crew.

It was also around this time that we realized that we were no longer anywhere near the action at Cops Coliseum, and despite this, there had really been no lonely section of the course.  Local residents were out in full force… some of them with their own make-shift aide stations set up at the bottom of their driveways.  

Bananas, sliced oranges, and pretzels for all!  

Into 23 and 24 kilometres, the support on the course was not letting up… it was still lined with spectators with giant novelty hands and other costumes.  The encouragement just kept coming.

It was hard at this point not to realize it…  the Around the Bay Road Race has the best thing going for it.  It has what most major Canadian road races are still missing; a fully-engaged, proud, and supportive community.   

It became very easy to understand how groups of tour buses from cities upwards of 6-8 hours away had come in to participate, and how they’ve been doing that for over a decade.

Shortly after crossing the 20k marker at 1:29 and change, on pace for just under 2:15 we decided to cut ourselves loose from what remained of the 2:15 group and shoot for a negative split. We charged the final big hill with plenty of steam and moved steady on a 4:15 pace to 27k.

With plenty of gas left in the tank we closed the final three kilometres of the race on a sub 4-minute pace, which I suppose would suggest that we didn’t run hard enough at the start…

Or maybe that last bit of energy wasn’t really “on reserve” at all… Maybe that’s one of the things you can gain from running a challenging course with less-than-ideal weather conditions, but with an overwhelming amount of support.

Regardless… I can now say with certainty that “I get it.” And that Around the Bay is most definitely a race well-deservinga of its 10,000+ participants.

Happy Training.



I’m 26 years old. I have a beautiful girlfriend who doesn’t mind coming out to long races in the extreme heat or pouring rain, and splitting the grocery bill with me and my 4000 calorie / day vegan diet. I’m a triathlete from the ankles up. I started out as a very biomechanically inefficient runner… the worst you’ve ever seen, I guarantee. I’ve somehow managed to drag my pancake-flat feet through marathons, triathlons, and even a 400 kilometre 10-day charity fundraiser run. Shifting the focus away from running though, and training as a triathlete has helped to keep me injury free for the last 3 years. It’s even made me a little faster on my feet. Aside from swimming, cycling and running, I like travel, yoga, and surfing. In 2006, my girlfriend and I lived in Japan and went surfing every week… unfortunately, there is no surfing in Markham.

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  • Dude, you left us hanging by not letting us know what your finishing time was. Now I have to look it up on Sportstats! LOL!!
    Well done, young padawan. I see the running force is strong in this one.



  • I am glad you enjoyed the race.
    Hope to see you in 2011.

    Mike Zajczenko
    Race Director

  • Thanks Mike!

    Ha. I didn’t realize I didn’t include the final time. 2:12:08 on the chip I believe.

    I can’t help but think I may have had a 2:08/2:09 in me there though, but it’s always loads of fun to run leisurely with a friend and chat along the way in these ‘C’ races 🙂

    All the more reason to go back next year I guess!!

  • I ran this race for the first time this year also and loved the Hamilton fans. I don’t think there was a single kilometer without something going on from the Tin Pan Alley gang on the Beach road to the little man at the base of the last hill and the reapers ready to collect dying runners at km 28. I was pumped the whole way finishing in 2:41:21 – not bad for a 50 year old. Thanks Hamilton for a fun ride – what great sports you are!

  • Great job Derek! I realize by reading these Around the Bay articles that team RF has a lot of fast runners. I ran this race as a leisurely run with friends but finished over 30 minutes after you. Maybe next year I will run it for myself and see what I can do.

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