This year’s race marks the 6th or 7th year in a row of doing this winter favorite. I don’t seem to do many road races once triathlon season gets going, so I always try to mark this one on the calendar.
Race morning brought some very cold temperatures of about -18 Celsius, but at least the roads were dry and it was nice and sunny. The wind wasn’t too strong, but definitely blowing enough to make the headwind quite a painful experience when I was warming up.
Shortly before 10am, we all headed to the race start, which headed north this year and around the building instead of south and immediately onto University. The new course this year was pretty fast as the only hill was the climb up Lexington off of University, which we had to do 2x for the 8 miler. Overall, runners found the new route better than the previous version, and I would tend to agree.
Once the national anthem was sung, the race got under way, just past 10am. Right from the gun, there were several runners flying up the road. Since the 8K, 8M and 3K race all started at the same time, I had no idea who was ahead of me at this point.
Early on, I found myself running with a H&P runner, Dave Rutherford. We were basically side by side for the first 3 or 4K of the race until I pulled ahead a bit. We both went through the first K in about 3:45 and the first mile in around 5:45. This was about the pace I would have started off the 8K race, so I wasn’t sure how long I would be able to hold on to this pace, but running with the wind and into the sun felt pretty good, so I just stayed with it.
About 2.5 K into the race, we had to get off of University and make the first climb up Lexington, which felt like it slowed the pace down a fair bit, but looking at the splits, the 3rd K was still at 3:49, so I guess it wasn’t too bad.
Once we turned right off of Lexington onto Bridge, we were heading north and into the wind. This section was definitely colder, but luckily, we only had to run about a K or so until the 8 mile racers turned right and wound their way through subdivision streets back over to University.
After this turn, I could finally see who I was running against, as the 8K runners just kept on going straight up Bridge. Unfortunately for me, the closest 8 mile racers were several hundred metres up the road, so I found myself running solo at this point. I could tell there was a small group including Dave and Florian Ong not too far behind though.
Once I got back to University, we were once again running the same route that we started with. At this time though however, I found myself actually feeling quite overdressed, as the wind was at our backs and the sun in our face. I knew this wouldn’t last too long, so it didn’t bother me much.
By now I could tell I was gaining some ground on the next 8 mile runner ahead of me. Eventually, as we made the turn back up Lexington and onto Bridge, I caught up to him, just before the second time passing the 8 mile turn off. This time however, we had to go straight up Bridge into the wind. This was likely the toughest part of the race, as we were facing a stiff wind and road conditions in a few sections were a bit slippery.
Just past the turn off, I passed this 8 mile runner and set my sights on some 8K runners. I began passing many of these runners as we approached Northfield. Once turning right onto Northfield, it was quite a bit easier, as the wind wasn’t in our face and we faced a bit of a downhill back to University Ave.
It was great turning back onto University, as we got the wind on our backs and sun on our face for the final couple K back to the finish line. I pushed hard through this section and past many of the 8K runners, but could tell there was no chance of catching any more 8 mile racers. The nearest one was likely 250 or 300 metres up the road.
After making the final turn to the finish, I picked up the pace again and finished with a pretty good time of 48:43 for the 8 miler and 6th place overall.
Since the guy who finished 2nd overall in the race was also in my AG, I ended up picking up the AG win for the M35-39.
So as the big 40 is just around the corner for me, it’s great to see that I can still set PB’s. In fact, a lot of people set PB’s in this race.
So just because it’s cold outside, doesn’t mean you can’t still run FAST!!
So overall, I’m plenty pleased with the results of this race. Similar to last year, I’ll be doing the Around the Bay 30K near the end of March. I can’t imagine conditions will be nearly as good as last year, so whether or not I can go sub 2 hours will be another good test of the winter fitness.