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2014 Around the Bay 30K

Event: 2014 Around the Bay 30K
Date: March 30, 2014
Location: Hamilton, ON

On the morning of March 30, 2014 I loaded a few other runners into my Toyota Camry and headed south from Orangeville towards the Hammer aka. Hamilton. The weather was teetering around -3 Degrees when we started the journey but warmed up as we travelled south to a balmy 2ish degrees around start.

I wasn’t 100% committed to wearing shorts in this weather, so went with the tights and I have to say that I think I made the wrong decision. I wasn’t overheating by any means, but I think shorts would have felt more comfortable.

We arrived at the location over an hour before the 9:30am start and weren’t able to find parking within the first few blocks. We actually ended up in a line up for a parking lot that ran out of spaces two cars before we got in. So I simply drove a little farther away, paid my $10 and stopped stressing about parking. My advice is to arrive at least an hour early as parking and washrooms in Copps FirstOntario Centre were absolutely packed.

I missed last year’s race so this was my first entry into the newer corral system. Even though I wanted to attempt a sub 2:15 I was only able to get into corral B on previous times and there were people checking bibs. I am sure you can jump the corral but you would have to be sneaky about it. Ensure you apply for the corrals or you would be put into the open slots, which are way at the back.

Last year there was a problem with a train stopping a large portion of runners for a good few minutes, so this year they amended the first 9K to run on Burlington St. closer to the harbour. This route is a bit more industrial, but I actually preferred it for the sole reason that it actually contained a few minor ups and downs. In years past the first portion of the race was dead flat or slightly down which I found problematic for what lay ahead. The new route contains two overpasses (5K & 7K) which weren’t difficult, but did change up the muscle groups. The scenery definitely isn’t as appealing and I did have some trouble with cars kicking up dirt in the opposite direction, which caused me to turn my head a few times on these overpass, but preferred the muscle distribution.

Most of the next ten KMs takes you north on Beach Blvd. which I am fairly certain is the out portion near the end of the Hamilton Marathon. There are not too many elevation changes in this area but on this day the wind was blowing slightly into our faces. During this portion you also cross a bridge that has a weird metal treading that isn’t too comfortable on your feet, but it isn’t too long. Around KM 18 we now head West on North Shore and most know what we are about to get into.

The final 10KMs of the Around the Bay 30K consists of a good number of rolling hills ending with the largest at around 26K (Valley Inn Hill). One of the runners that I drove down with said something that stuck with me on this run “I like the last 10K as there are a few climbs, but you are rewarded with some downhills”. The rolling hills aren’t terrible if you have something left in the tank as you can recover on the subsequent decline and then power up the next climb. I actually found the hardest climb for me was from KM23.5 to KM25. It is not a steep climb, but it is long and you don’t really expect it. The Valley Inn hill at KM26 is definitely the toughest, but I know it is there, it follows a large decline portion and I know once I get to the top it is a small decline left to the finish line. My biggest problem with the Valley Inn Hill is that I think I am at the top on two occasions, only to be disappointed that it turns and heads up again. BE AWARE OF THIS as it can be crippling to your will.

As I said before, once you get up the hill it is an easy 3ish KMs into the finish in FirstOntario Centre, but please be careful of a few steep/sharp turns as you enter the stadium. Last thing you want is a turned ankle 50m from the finish.

My personal race report will be that I spent 10K trying to catch another Running Free runner, 10K running with this runner and 10K trying to hang on to get my Silver medal. Which I did!!!

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