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MEC Toronto Race 2

I had heard many people talk about the Mountain Equipment Co-op Race Series and had always been interested in signing up for a race. For the most part, I always heard positive comments about the races being well organized, low-key, and cheap. To jump start my spring training this year, I decided to sign up for a few early races, as a test of my current fitness level and as motivation to increase my weekly mileage. The MEC Toronto Race 2, on April 10th, seemed like a good option so I signed up for it. Here are my thoughts on the race:

The Course:

The race started and ended at Coronation Park in Toronto, across the street from Exhibition Place, and ran along the Martin Goodman Trail. We ran west from Coronation Park before turning around and returning to the start line (twice!…more on that later). The trail is paved and runner friendly. It was still open to the public during the race so there were other runners, walkers, and cyclists but I didn’t think this affected my race. The course felt mostly flat and my Garmin agrees.

One of the convenient features of this race, which seems to be typical of most MEC races, is that various distances are available for each event. For this race, runners were able to sign up for a 5k, 10k, or 15k. Start times were staggered by a few minutes, with the longer distances starting earlier. The 5k route was a 2.5k out and back. The 10k route was a 5k out and back. I decided to run the 15k, which was a mentally challenging course, despite being mostly flat. Imagine this: You go out and back for 10 kilometres. During that time, the understandably faster 10k and 5k racers have caught up to you. As you finish your first 10 kilometres, you approach the finish line with the 10k and 5k finishers but have to turn around and go back for another 5k. The finish line is pulling you and the chocolate cookies are calling your name! Mentally challenging.

The MEC Race Series:

This Toronto MEC race was exactly how others had described the MEC Race Series. Well organized: The location made it easy to access on a Sunday morning and free street parking was available in the area. There were plenty of volunteers and course marshals along the route. There were drink stations at both turn around points. Bib pickup was available ahead of time at the MEC store and on site the morning of the race. Low-Key: No medals, no race shirts, no expo. Just a bib and a chip. A the finish line, water and a few snacks (e.g. bananas and cookies). That’s it! Cheap: This race cost $15 if you registered ahead of time and $25 for same day registration.

The Verdict:

This race really served its purpose for me. It felt more like a glorified training run rather than a race. For $15, it got me out the door on a Sunday morning and forced me to run a bit faster and a bit longer than I may have on my own. I think this is how I would use MEC races in the future and if my schedule wasn’t so irregular, I would incorporate all races into my training. There is really nothing to lose by signing up!

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