Fresh off the heals of yesterdays (Sept 25, 2016) race, on a beautiful day for running, 12 degrees, sunny and little wind. Let’s go through this systematically.
The kids (12 and under) 1km was super exciting. First off, kids registered for free, and because of the following items, it sold out. Free T-Shirt (My 8-year-old daughter felt like she was a real runner (her words)) as well as bib number and chip-timed. The race was quick for most, but lots of fun with lots of the crowd cheering and many adults running with their kids. All of the kids received a pretty nice finishing medal as well (as well as post-race snacks and pizza). Just for this even alone, the day is absolutely worth it.
The registration/bib pick-up process was easy. Great, long sleeve technical shirts by New Balance (who was a sponsor) as well as the usual other goodies that go along with a race.
The Half Marathon lined up at 9am. It was a very casual field, especially after the kids ran 4 and 5 minute kms a short while before. Pace bunnies were provided, for 1:30, 1:140, 1:50, 2:00 and 2:10 I believe. This is a nice addition for those running their first or striving for a breakthrough time. From what I saw on the course, all were on pace, if not slightly under which would allow for a slight positive split.
The race started with no issues, heading into a very slight incline. A couple of cyclists lead the way. On a personal note, I had shifted gears over the summer moving from Marathon distance events to training for an ultra, having completed a 50km training run 7 days prior to the race, was unsure of how the race would go. Regardless, I found myself near the front, and holding a solid pace. The course is a butterfly shaped out an back that took us down Hardwood (police blocked off a very safe course)to the lake and then along the Ajax waterfront for the majority (17km?) of the run. There were several water and electrolyte stations along the course with lots of volunteers manning those stations as well as in between, at every turn and cross over point. All of the volunteers were enthusiastic with lots of cheering, words of encouragement and reporting on placing. There was a slight headwind from the 5km to 14km mark but it was a beautiful day with great views of the lake. The course was mostly flat with some very modest rolling hills (my Garmin said I climbed a whole 88 feet through the entire race). The last 2km was a gut check with another 500m modest hill to the final kilometer, then a modest downhill to the finish. Lots of encouragement from the 5km walkers that were finishing as well as around the start/finish area.
Once completed, finishers were given a nice, well detailed, sturdy medal and an assortment of food, bananas, juice, water, pizza, and other snacks. There were plenty of massage tables that were filled for most of the rest of the morning.
The prizing was also great. $500/$300/$100 to the top 3 overall male/female 1/2 marathoners. I missed the podium coming 4th, but won my age group and was given a nice gift certificate to one of my favourite places, Running Free.
Overall this is a must do on the calendar. I will be back. Super well organized, lots of great features, a super fast course (I ran a 1:19:18, 28 seconds off my PR from 15 years ago – I guess ultra training agrees with me), and fun for the family. I almost forgot to mention, free photos from the race, based on your bib number, including the kids 1km!
I should note that I was provided free entry into this event (through the Team Running Free Lottery). When this is the case, I try to provide areas of improvement etc, but there is no need, this event is fantastic. Everything about this is great, and these sentiments were shared by many running friends, social media friends and people I met on the day.