The Achilles 5km, Toronto, March 13th 2016

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Trek and Run were supported during this event by;

Salba Chia 

Brooks Running

Steam Whistle Brewery

&

Helly Hansen

First, here’s a short film showing the route from a runners perspective.

The Achilles St Patricks Day 5k is one of the best, most eagerly anticipated running events in Toronto. A mainly flat course, starting underneath the iconic CN Tower and leading into the heart of the city, it’s a perfect opportunity to set a personal best time, as all of our team did this time around. It’s also run to benefit a great organisation – Achilles Canada. Here’s a few thoughts from the team.

Tell us about the pre-race experience.

Tim – Pre race couldn’t have been easier for me as other Trek and Run team members were allowed to pick up my bib and goodie bag for me. I like the cotton t-shirt that came with the entry…and the toque/beanie hat was a nice touch.

Trevor - Pre race was very good and started the previous weekend with a practice run hosted by Steam Whistle Brewery and the Black Toe running store. There was a really nice goodie bag, including a decent cotton shirt and plenty of gels and other items that were appreciated. The emails with race info were easy to follow, and understanding where to go and when was no problem at all.

On the day, Steam Whistle has a spacious ‘lawn’ and there were all the essentials like portapotties and you could also go indoors to warm up if needed, but the warmer weather didn’t make that necessary. You really couldn’t ask for more.

Virgil – The race website had all the information clearly communicated to the runners and I had no difficulty with the map and pre-race instructions. I arrived at Roundhouse, the start point, early and walked around the sponsor tents. The race goodie bag had a decent t-shirt (would have been nice if it was a technical shirt instead of cotton), a touque and a few energy bars. There were about 7 tents set up, adequate for a smaller local race. I took some energy bar and drink samples and picked up a mini Saucony running shoe keychain dongle, the perfect match to the other one I have on my hydration pack. Runners were starting to drop in, many of them dressed in various St. Paddy gear, including some funny hats, sashes, hair bands and one person decked head to toe in a green Mophie skinsuit. The bag check was a little slow but manageable, and it was nice that they were offering Lucky Charms cereal packs for the kids.

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How was the race itself?

Tim – This was my first experience with the Achilles St. Patrick’s 5k. It was a completely fantastic race experience. The course is nice and fast. I don’t run a lot of 5k’s, but I was able to knock off a full three minutes and twenty seconds from my PR (from 2014). That’s a ton in a 5k race. The volunteers and everyone involved with the race were awesome, and the atmosphere was definitely the best of any race I’ve been in. This just became my new favourite race, and a must run next year.

Trevor - The course was a good out and back. Relatively flat with a small bridge climb to challenge you around 1km and 4km in and then a nice slightly downhill stretch to the finish line to help you put on a kick if you were still able (I wasn’t). The marshalling was very well done, with support in all the places that were needed. All 4 runners in our group today posted personal bests for the distance, so that made for a quite happy post race celebration!

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Virgil – This was my debut 5k run, having done a number of half and full marathons and two half Ironman races since 2013. I wasn’t going to be smug about it though, I knew that this 5k race would be just as difficult as the longer races, but in different ways. I was getting buzzed by the growing excitement the announcer was drumming up while we were lined up waiting for the gun to go off. The handcycles went off and shortly after, so were the runners. It was a chaotic melee as I crossed the start mat and I regretted not moving forward to the front earlier, as there were a lot of runners that I had to weave around to catch one of my team members. I tried to mark several people and stay with them, but I was already paying for my early efforts to get out in front of the mass start.

The volunteers did a great job, it was a simple course and easy to negotiate. Police officers were at each major intersection to make the road safe for all runners. There was a woman who wanted to cross the street to get to Metropolitan Hotel just after the 1k mark but was trapped by the stream of runners. I only heard a snippet of the irate conversation she was having with the police officer – looks like they were doing an excellent job!

Around the 2k mark, I already saw the handcycles returning back on Wellington St., and surprisingly, the lead runner in hot pursuit only tens of metres behind them. That was pretty unbelievable. I called out to my team mate when I saw him, and after I made the turnaround, I looked for my other teammates. One of them was pretty recognizable with his funny Viking hat and orange ponytails. Again, I tried to mark other runners and keep the same pace, but many were slowly dropping me. There was a short climb over the bridge south of Front St. at around the 4k mark, which I didn’t have much left to push on as I was already pretty winded from my first km efforts and barely hanging on. The spectators in the last 500m were cheering everyone on, which gave me a spurt of energy to give everything I had to cross that line. 

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And how was the post-race experience?

Tim – Post race was most of what makes this my new favourite race. The Steam Whistle Brewery is a great place to hang out post run. With a band playing classic Irish drinking songs, pretty women dressed in green as far as the eye can see, and the pilsener flowing, how could I not love this race? And a huge thank you to the fabulous people at Steam Whistle for all the generosity and hospitality.

The only negative thing I could say about the post race was, being as most of us are vegan, we were thrilled to have a hot bowl of veg chili waiting (along with a glass of beer) at the finish…BUT a couple of us had a bad feeling that there was ground beef in our clearly marked “veggie chili”. This is a big issue for many people who are expecting to be eating something containing no animal products. This may have been that ‘fake’ meat, I’m not sure. But just in case, I’d suggest the organizers get two different containers next year so there is no mix up of which batch is meat free and which isn’t. Some people would freak out about that sort of thing. We rolled with the punches and were resigned to hoping it wasn’t the ground beef that it appeared to be. But unless something is addressed for next year, I will be passing on the chili altogether.

Also, being nerdy runners who obsess over kilometre splits and PR’s, we were all stressing when the posted results, and the online results, originally showed clock time as chip time, so none of us knew officially what time we ran. This was fixed by later that night, so no harm, no foul.

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Trevor - Post race was wonderful, despite a small mix up with the Chili. I found some ground beast in my ‘veggie chili’, but that was a minor thing considering and just the fact that they took the veggie crowd into consideration was very much appreciated. Steam Whistle Brewery are always fantastic hosts and the facility is great and I definitely intend to return for a tour as some point. They set the bar very high for any other hosts to match. Great atmosphere as always, generous quantities of a really fantastic beer. The central location of Steam Whistle allows easy access both to and from their facility by local transit also, which was appreciated after (over) indulging in their fine products.

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Virgil - After we all regrouped and collected our medals and took some selfies at the finish line, we headed into Steam Whistle Brewery for a beer, chili, and bun. Past the lineup we were greeted by a live band that created a great post-race atmosphere. Many people were gathered and enjoying the meal and chatting about the race. The results of the race were posted on the wall, and we were a little upset that Sportstats posted identical gun and chip times (which wasn’t corrected until the next day). Then we walked into the other section of the brewery and had a great time chatting over more beers. The venue was nicely decorated with artwork on consignment, and after I started losing count of how many rounds were being served, I went to take a closer look at them. It was too late to take in the St. Patrick’s Day parade that was on Yonge St., which started at noon. It was quite a relaxing end to a great day of running, I would definitely come back next year. The best part of it was that I walked away with a PR – a default one, but still a PR nonetheless!

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How would you sum up the race?

Tim – Did I mention that this is my new favourite race? I appreciate what the Achilles organization does, I love the quick course, running in the shadows of the Skydome and CN Tower, and I hope Steam Whistle continues their major involvement with this fun race. Also, the post race medal is the only one I have that can open a beer, so there’s that. I’m already looking forward to next year. Maybe I’ll run in a kilt. Slainte!

Trevor - Great experience and I would encourage anyone looking to give a short distance race a try to pick this one. The cause (Achilles) is a very worthwhile one and the hosts are, as mentioned, always very good to us runner in Toronto. Thank you Steam Whistle Brewery!

Virgil – Brilliant, a well organised, great race.

To discover more about the Achilles St Patrick’s Day 5km, please see - http://www.achillesstpatricksday5k.ca/

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