Trek and Run were supported during this event by;
First, here’s a short film showing the route from a runners perspective.
The Canada Running Series Race Roster Spring Run off is a long standing event that takes in Toronto’s beautiful High Park. There are 5km and 8km events and whilst it’s not a flat course, as the reading from one of our watches below shows, it is fast as long as you take the downhills at full tilt to make up for the time you will inevitably lose on the uphills. It’s also fully paved – so you’ll need road shoes as opposed to trail – and the surfaces are well made.
Here’s a few thoughts from the team, after we’d all run the 8km race.
Tell us about the pre-race experience.
Tim - Pre race was about as smooth as it could possibly be. I was able to pick up the race packet for two of my teammates in no time flat, as well as switch myself from the 5k to the 8k race. The volunteers were super helpful, and it was a nice change to have the packet pickup be near High Park rather than, as in previous years, travelling all the way down to Bloor and Avenue Road.
Virgil - The Race Roster Spring (Winter?) Run-Off 8k race was going to be an interesting one to dress for, as the forecast called for -14°C windchill weather. The website had clear instructions on race day protocol and the map was beautifully illustrated, no issues for any first-timer. The CRS brand knows how to run a race, and it shows. It was the first time I did a race registration half an hour before gun time, so I did not really spend much time at the sponsor booths. The bag check, washrooms, food stations, and corral locations were all clearly marked and accessible. I helped myself to two cups of Oasis drink to top up, just as the announcer was urging all 8k runners to make their way to the corrals. Pinning the bib on my jacket in the cold sans finger mitts was a challenge, I’ll have to remember my race belt next time. The good thing about smaller local races is that the corrals were not bursting at the seams and I was able to take some selfies and do some warm-up running and stretching, and still jump back in the corral with two minutes remaining. This was important because the cold weather would make standing in line a frigid option. I lined up with my team mate just a handful of steps from the start kite in the lead corral, ready for the air horn.
Paul - I arrived at High Park approximately 45 minutes before the start of the race. The sky was clear but the temperature was cool and crisp. As I walked around waiting for my friends to arrive I couldn’t help but notice at the number of volunteers donating their time and energy so people like me could participate in this race. I spoke to several of them before during and after the race and told them that I really appreciate the hard work they do.
How was the race itself?
Tim - I’ve run this race before but not the 8k distance. I was surprised to see how much more uphill the 8k course had than the 5k. It was definitely a challenging 8k course, and it was well marked with plenty of volunteers pointing the way. The mileage markers seemed to be among the most accurate (at least according to my Garmin watch) of any race in recent memory. Ending on that killer hill is always a bit of a combination of low and high point. As much as I hate that hill, it is one of the features that make this race unique and memorable.
Virgil - I enjoyed the first 30s, taking off like a bullet from the front, but was dying for a drink immediately after. The first kilometre done at 4:09 was an unsustainable pace for me, so I settled into my rhythm. The course was a scenic circuit around High Park, quite enjoyable to run in. Just for laughs I clocked myself running High Park’s Spring Road Hill 365m downhill section, and clocked 1:20 (a time that only FIVE people beat going UP the same hill, unbelievable). I could not latch onto anyone in first half – found a ponytail to chase but she slowly built a lead away from me at a water station. I found another guy – same thing – I dropped 10s to him and I worked extra hard to limit the gap to 5s at one point, but had to let him go too. There were plenty of volunteer marshals to guide the runners, so navigating the course was never an issue. At one point I debated whether to cut a tight tangent, or get a race photo on the wide outside turn; the ticking clock won over vanity. The last kilometer I was barely hanging on, making the “Kill the Hill Challenge” more aptly named “Killed by the Hill Challenge” instead. The crowd of spectators cheering on the hill was a fun experience.
Paul - As I got to the starting line I found myself getting excited for the start of the race. Mentally I felt strong and ready to go. Five minutes before race time mother nature called and fortunately there were the appropriate facilities nearby with a relatively short lineup.
When I got back there were so many people crowded into the corral and essentially I started at the back. Not ideal but it was my fault for timing my pre race drinking badly and as the race began I started to negotiate my way through the crowd. When I reached the 1km mark my pace was about 7:15. I told myself that the first kilometer was a warmup and it was now time to increase the pace. As each kilometer passed I was getting faster and faster. At about the 4k point there was the first significant hill to climb. I pushed hard and when I reached the top I felt really good and started running faster, careful not to tap into any reserves that I had waiting as I knew I would need them for the end. At some point beyond 7k I started climbing the final hill. It was at this point I emptied the reserves burning all the anaerobic currency my body had. All along the way there were volunteers cheering us on. It was an awesome feeling crossing the finish line! I’m super pleased that I got faster as the race went along. My final kilometer was clocked in 5.02.
And how was the post-race experience?
Tim - I didn’t check results online afterward, but we didn’t really need to, as the board was posted with results almost immediately. There were a fair bit of food options, and something that I always notice, bananas that were ripe and ready to eat, not green. It would have been a nice village to hang around post race, if it weren’t so ridiculously cold out for April. All in all, a very well organized race.
Virgil - The chilly weather precluded thoughts of hanging around after the race, so our team ended up missing the pancake breakfast, which was a shame. Cheerful volunteers handed out the medals, and I took the opportunity to take a group photo of New Balance shoe mascot.
There were plenty of bananas, pita buns, cookies and yogurt before and after the race, so I was happy with that. The race bag had a technical shirt with a clean and simple design, and the sunscreen moisturizer was useful. The results were already posted by the time we reached it, and I officially clocked in my debut (and automatic) 8k PR. Somehow I clocked a 1.6k split time of 40+ minutes, which wasn’t a big deal because everything else was correct and confirmed with my Garmin watch. Running shorter races has been quite useful in my run training regimen towards my A races that include marathon and half iron triathlons. This race was also ideal for kids aged 2-13, as it is a closed park course. I also found out that the timed Hill Challenge was a first in this race’s 37 year history. In short, the Race Roster Spring Run-Off race has something for all ages and abilities. I was very pleased with the event, and would definitely mark down next year’s edition.
Paul - The food tents were nearby the finish line and I was able to refuel on Greek Yogurt and bananas which are two of my favorite foods. All told it was a great experience, very well run and a fast course, and I’m looking to participating again next year!