Island Lake Classic 10K – Race Report
This is the first off-road 10k that I have done and it was certainly a good one to test those skills given that a chunk of the run is trail while there is a reasonable amount that is a mix of pavement, hard packed gravel and wood decking pedestrian walkways spanning the water.
The race was slated to start at 9:20am followed by the 5k start at 9:40. So I made my way up from the Beaches at 6:30 to get there at about 7:40 – I have never been so early to a race that I beat the timing truck! Check-in was very easy when you are amongst the first ten to show up. The pavilion seemed to be well organized to take in larger numbers efficiently.
Given I was there so early, I was able to get in a solid stretching warm-up and run of about 2k, critically I was able to run the last 1.5km up through the forest, which was a good thing to know what was coming at the end of this run, in order to save some energy. By the time I got back to the finish line, the kids fun run was underway. What a great part of the event, as kids large and small (mostly small) were making a beeline for the finish line, many with their parents in tow – a fantastic sight. The kids run finished at 9:10 and so I made my way to the “starting chute” which was really just the road. The starter kept calling on people to assemble at the start line and there were many who seemed challenged to follow the direction. We finally got things going at 9:23. We were told by the starter that we were to follow the orange markers while the 5k were following the blue markers (same colour as on our bibs).
The first 600-700m is downhill then a bump up hill and then you settle into a largely flat course until about 6.5-7km. The trails are generally hard-packed gravel, followed by great water vistas as you cross pedestrian bridges to get over the fingers of the lake. There were water aid stations at each 2k, although I might suggest that instead of using plastic cups which you can’t really squeeze into a V in order to take in water, that they use dixie type cups. The markers on the course were easy to see, although I was running alone for most of this event so there were never any issues of missing markers. I heard several complaints from 5k runners that it was very difficult seeing markers for the changes in the trail – not an issue in the 10k.
At about 6.4km, you get an uphill grade on very loose packed sand/gravel and this certainly made for some challenge. A cyclist was trying to climb the route at the same time as we were running and he wasn’t having great luck. I managed to pass two people on this climb, which was then followed by an immediate descent with slightly harder packed gravel. We crossed back over the lake at about 7.7km and this is where things get a little tougher. It is almost all uphill for the next 1.5km in a forest of roots and rocks. In addition, the 5km competitors were now on the same trail as were casual visitors (this is not closed during the race). Made for some difficulty in getting past people, but not overly so. You come out of the forest at about 9.5k and then it is just a straight shot (with a little left turn) on hard packed gravel. Again, it might be a bit congested given the 5k racers, but now this is a full road width and not a trail.
I crossed the finish line in 51:35, 21st overall, 14th male and 5th male 50-59. Given all my training has been IM focused and Tremblant was just 2 weeks ago, this feels like an OK outcome.
Food afterward was ok for a race this size. Big water bottle, bananas, oranges and apples, some cookies and snack bars. While the 5K participants seemed to have challenges with the course, I found the 10k very intuitive, the race itself well organized and easy to get to (although a bit of jaunt from the Beaches for a 10k). The park is very nice and certainly a family could easily make a day of it, with the kids fun run and then enjoy the park facilities.