Honda Barrie Waterfront Half Marathon
The Barrie Waterfront half marathon is a great local race that doesn’t require much logistical planning. For me this was a great opportunity to get out and toe the line with some friends, additionally it fell on a day where I happened to have a 1.5hr training run scheduled anyways. Either way would have been running the same course (relatively) and down at the Waterfront cheering on friends. It only made sense to sign up and run! I managed to string together a PR for the ½ Marathon crossing the line in 1:32:25, good enough for a 9thoverall finish and 4thin the men’s 25-29 age group.
My goals for that day were simple;
- Toe the line with some great Friends
- Have fun
Logistics and Pre-Race Organization (and Cost!)
This race is incredibly easy for logistics, being a local race there is no need for a hotel or any huge drive. In fact the Barrie Bus terminal is only a few blocks from the race start, or if you prefer to drive there is ample parking all around the downtown area which is free on Sunday. The pre-race organization here needs some help. I had gone by on the Saturday and told that the race was sold out, the only way was to hop on the wait list and hopefully a spot would open up, but I’d only be able to find out about 15 minutes before the start. Since I was going to be down at the lakeshore anyways, it wasn’t a big deal however it makes it challenging to get proper nutrition in or to really mentally prepare yourself. When I arrive on race morning however I found out that I could buy a late entry spot, it just wouldn’t come with a t-shirt or finishers medal, generally no problem for me until I was told that race entry would still be $100. A pretty steep price for a course offering no nutritional support, and only 1 Gatorade station (the rest were water and nuun). Alas, I was there and wanted to run with my friends, so I paid the entry! After I received my bib however, I was sent to a separate tent for my kit pick up, and then a final tent for my timing chip. This final tent also happened to be the place for bag check, and although the volunteer seemed surprised they gladly took my item. The entire process ate up about 30 of the 45 minutes I had allocated myself before the run, the majority of the last 15 minutes were eaten up waiting in line for the porta-potties. Although it is generally a smaller event, the number of porta—potties could have been increased to make sure everyone was on time for the start gun.
I worked my way to the front of the starting coral and managed to link up with some of my local running friends (and even meet a few others). We were all side by side when the gun went off, and after a few strides and wishing them luck, the first goal of the day was complete.
The course does a quick 1km lap through downtown Barrie then wraps around the Barrie waterfront on Lakeshore Drive and offers a false flat as you climb up towards the south shore center, once passing that landmark you hit the more hilly section of the course which offers a few good rollers and with a hot sun can be a challenge that will get you later if you don’t watch your pace and heart rate. The aid stations through this section are placed every few kilometers and are generally speaking the only fan support you get on the course. After coming out of the hills your put onto the Barrie Waterfront path and wrap around the lake shore again. This leads you to an out and back along the rail trail (small gravel) which again provides a nice false flat as you run right beside the waters edge. The finish line and race guidance could use some improvement in this section, especially for runners in the lead pack, there were are a number of turns that I almost missed due to a lack of signage or race marshals, and after talking with others, they almost did the same in the same places.
Now the Results
For a smaller race the field here was very competitive, the top 2 going sub 1:20 and the next several athletes racing sub 1:25. My goals for the day however were met, I had a great time on the course watching my friends either lead the race or try and chase each other down. I got to toe the line with some people I haven’t had a chance to in a number of years and I also got a fantastic training run in the books – not to mention a new PR for the half!
Volunteers on the course and at the pre – and post-race events are what make these things possible. Without them, rates would lack course support, kit pick up would be a nightmare and the whole experience would go downhill. Whether you are an elite athlete looking for the win, an age group warrior or someone out there looking to pick up a PR or a first-time finish, respect the volunteers and thank them. I had the unfortunate opportunity to listen to a volunteer describe how she was yelled at by another athlete and that she wouldn’t be coming back again, it had ruined her day. Remember, they aren’t paid, they are only trying to help.
For a small-scale race and for what it offers the Barrie ½ is very expensive, I think in the future I would only enter again on one of the early bird prices. The course however is fantastic, flat to rolling and very fair in my opinion. I would rate this race 6.5 out of 10 for value and recommend it to a local or new runner as a first-time race.