Much has been written about this late winter race. In an attempt to avoid writing a review that is redundant in nature, I’ll focus more on what I feel will aid runners in making the decision to run this event next year.
The 2012 race was my third time running in the event. To start, the first thing that comes to mind is the weather ~ it will, for lack of a better expression “make or break” your experience. The race course is situated along the Lakeshore, and the quality of the race surface is all too dependent on mother nature. In years past, the course was a collage of water, slush, snow and ice, which isn’t the best surface for a runner to get into their grove for a new season of running let alone racing, however, this year, the weather was extremely co-operative and runners were treated to a bone dry surface to run on. It’s hard to argue against the benefits of cool temps, and this early March race delivers. With temps averaging in +/- -6*C range, there’s no need to be overly concerned with hydration – if anything, one needs to think about what to wear to avoid overheating.
The race offers no real start corals. If you intend to run out front, you’ll have to force your way to the start line. The ubiquitous mass of bobbing heads at the start line is typical of this type of race. Our nation’s anthem is played, and the all too familiar beeps of GPS enabled watches sound – the race begins, and all except those right up front, waddle across the start line watching their footing – hoping to take off cleanly avoiding other ankles and elbows. The first 4K of the race is quite crowded, however, with some careful manoeuvring, most runners find their grove, and proceed to the next K marker without any issue.
Clearly marked aid stations were situated along the race course. Runners expected to find stations every 3K offering water and or a sport drink. If memory serves me, the aid stations weren’t stationed exactly 3K apart making the decision making process regarding hydrating and fuelling a minor inconvenience. For those wanting to run with a Pace Bunny, the Chilly did offer runners this opportunity. Pacers are a great addition to any race, and this year’s Pacers did a great job. For example the 1:40 Bunny managed to cross the line in 1:39:54 (chip time) – incredible!
For those runners training in the Headwaters region (Dufferin county and surrounding regions) the Chilly’s course is relatively flat. With all the hills we run up in and around the Orangeville region, all the inclines are nothing to worry about. Personally, I noticed more of the gentle down-hill sections. After crossing the finish line, runner’s are rewarded with a great medal, and a variety of post race foods. This year, the Chilly did offer a warm bowl of chilli to participants – a great way to warm up post race.
I would recommend this race to both experienced and novice runners. Regardless of the weather conditions, the race offers the runner a great opportunity to run in a different environment and to simply change up the monotony of winter training. If you do consider running this race, be warned, it is popular, and the event does sell out. More than 4000 runners participated in this year’s event.
On a personal note, it was incredible to see so many Team Running Free (T.R.F.) jerseys along the race course. Orangeville’s store was well represented. I use the race as a quasi litmus test to see the results of my winter training in action. I typically run the Around the Bay 30K at the end of March, and use this race to see how well-prepared my legs and lungs are for the upcoming technical challenges of that historic race. I have never used the Chilly ½ as an intentional event to set a P.B., there are just too many uncontrollable variables this time of year to consider, with weather being the main culprit. This said, I ran the even with fellow Orangeville T.R.F member Jarrid, and our initial race plan was dependant on weather conditions. With a clean race course our goal was to run steady, stopping the clock in and around the 1:35-1:40 range. With the phsycological benefits of running in a new environment and the pressures of completing a “race”, we were both rewarded with a great day of running. I managed to cross the finish line in a respectable 1:33:45 – not too bad considering the challenges of winter training. With a few weeks between the Chilly ½ and the Around the Bay, our group of Orangeville runners have time to fine tune our training for the upcoming 30K.
It’s my hope to see more local Headwater region runners out and about throughout the course of the 2012 season. You can be sure to see me representing T.R.F ~ Orangeville at numerous running and cycling events throughout the season. Be sure to drop by the store and say hi. Enough can’t be said about the support T.R.F lends to our community.