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Want a challenge? Try the Around the Bay

Around the Bay, 2012

With yet another spring race done and over with, I find it difficult to write any race report that doesn’t include a brief comment regarding this year’s extraordinary spring weather. Weather conditions are an important consideration that all runners must take into account when planning out their race and this is especially true when participating in Hamilton’s Around the Bay (ATB) 30K event. It was a balmy 8*C early in the morning up in the Highlands region, which could only mean warmer temperatures south, near the lake. Shorts and a long-sleeve technical T were all that was really necessary. A pair of mitts to keep the hands warm while waiting for the start gun could be helpful, but they would soon find their way to the side of the road. Many were concerned with the possible rainy conditions that were forecast for the weekend, however, the rain held off, and runners were treated to a dry racing surface. This would be my third attempt at taming the legendary and historic race. With the help of Orangeville’s Team Running free members, I had the winter training under my belt, and due to the nature of the road surfaces in and around Dufferin and Wellington counties, I felt I was ready to tackle North America’s oldest foot race.

The ATB’s 30K course is a challenging race. It is deceptively flat and fast in the early stages tempting many runners to push the pace, however, by the mid 20’s the course starts to undulate ~ the rolling up and down surface taxes the legs. Push too hard too soon, and you won’t have anything left for the up, and up 26 kilometre stage – similar to Boston’s Heartbreak Hill the runner is confronted with steep hills, leaving one wondering why the heck they put themselves through such a gruesome challenge. If you’re fortunate enough to have planned things correctly, the remaining K’s of the race are run on a mild downhill leading to finish line located inside of COPPS coliseum. This all said, I’d suggest that anyone planning to run the race, find the time to acquaint themselves with the race route – you’ll be better prepared avoiding the unexpected.

I realize that any race report can and does become somewhat subjective. It’s hard to write a review that isn’t skewed by your own experience. This said, my primary objective in writing this report is to aid potential competitors to at the very least, be prepared for what they will face while out on the course. First, upon arriving in Hamilton, locate a parking lot that is close to the finish line. Forget the cost, your legs will thank-you when you’re done.

The aforementioned race course must be treated with respect. A runner must run some training miles that include hills or hill repeats. Trust me, you’ll be thankful you did. Living near the Orangeville area ensures you’ll have this covered.

The ATB offers aid/water stations approximately every 5K. Water and Gatorade are offered. As with most races, unless you’re fortunate to be way up front, you’ll have to navigate your way between runners and walkers who a) stop dead to drink right in the middle of the aid station, and b) aren’t sure of which portion of the station they can grab their choice of hydration, and as a result, impeded the progress of those behind them. If we all remember a bit of runner etiquette while passing through the stations….

With the unseasonably warm temps, hydration was an issue. In years past not so much.

Many of the kilometre stages are run on uneven surfaces. One can try to find “flat” spots, but if your legs are not used to angled surfaces, you may want to log a few training miles that include such a challenge. Additionally, one section of the course includes running over metal grated surface – this too can wreak havoc with the legs and ankles! I will admit that although the novelty of running into COPPS towards the finish line makes the ATB’s finish unique, a runner must drop down a considerable ramp after making a sharp right hand turn to cross the line. I don’t know about you, but when I’ve just finished 29.7K of hard race-paced running, the last thing I want to do is think about my footing to avoid a catastrophic ending, alas, that’s what one’s faced with – be aware, to save your ankles!

Reflecting on the 2012 ATB one memory that stood out amongst the rest was the journey of preparing for the race. Typically, I do find myself logging many training miles solo, but this was the first year, as a Team Running Free member, that training with others specifically during my long runs that setting goals and achieving them became extremely enjoyable and rewarding. Running with team member Jarrid made many of the training miles just disappear, moreover, He, along with Jodi and Norm were an extremely valuable and indispensible source of training related information. Be it setting up training routes and schedules, correct shoe and gear selection, or the all important positive reinforcement, I don’t know if a simple “thank-you” is enough to show my gratitude. It’s great to see the Orangeville Team Running Free (OTRF) community working together. Special mention to Hannah for this year’s ATB race kit pick-up. This is just another example of how the OTRF community cooperates with each other. I encourage all the runners in the Highlands-Headwater region to drop by Orangeville’s Running Free. The knowledge of teams members is more than any website can deliver, the camaraderie is priceless. I’m happy to be part of this team, as without their help, earning the elusive ATB silver medal, and setting a PB in the 30K would have been difficult. Let Orangeville’s Team Running Free help you achieve your goals.



Avid outdoorsman. Live in small rural community with many opportunities to get outside! Running is my passion, but do frequently get out on my bike, and while up north at the cottage, get my share of swimming in. Look forward to a great 2012 season, and am looking for interested individuals to compete in Adventure racing.

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One comment

  • Congrats on the Silver Andrew, Gold in 2013? Even more important is the huge 13 minute improvement over 2011. If you keep improving at this pace I will never catch you lol..

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