Trek and Run were supported during this event by;
This race, new on the Canada Running Series roster for 2016, is more or less flat and takes in some of the cities finest sites, including the CN Tower, the wide boulevard of University, the ornate Exhibition Grounds front gate and the lakefront. Here’s what our team thought of the event.
1/ Tell us about the pre race experience.
Tim – The race pack pickup was a bit of a mixed bag (so to speak) this year. I like any excuse to head town to the St. Lawrence Market, so that part was great, and despite noticing later that night that our entire team (3 men and one woman) had been given ladies medium shirts by mistake, I can’t really say anything negative about the volunteers at the expo. They were plentiful and super helpful, and hey, mistakes happen. We were able to rectify the error before the race easy enough.
The Canada Running Series puts on so many races that I find it suprising that their “race expo” are generally a little bit of a let down. There isn’t really much to see, other than the booths of a few of the race sponsors. Personally I don’t really consider Powerbar a race nutrition company. Certainly not for us vegan runners anyway. So it was a quick pickup, a scan of the timing chips, changing my corral from yellow to red (which couldn’t have been easier) and I was in and out in 10 minutes. I can’t say I’m a big fan of the “virtual race bag” that gets emailed to runners, that seem to be more popular these days. There didn’t seem to be much value offered in that at all. I’d prefer races to just give you cool stuff in the non virtual bag, and/or at the race expo.
Dave – Tim picked up my race pack, so that part of my pre-race experience was easy! The info online was good, with a course map and instructions readily available, as well as an elevation chart to help you know what to expect.
Virgil - I was looking forward to doing this race as I had never done its previous incarnation as Yonge Street 10k, and I wanted to take in the excitement of a new debut race with shiny medal offerings. The shirt design was a creative one as well. The buzz was that Olympians Eric Gillis, Reid Coolsaet and Krista Duchene were running the course with us mere mortals! I didn’t get to experience the race packet pickup and expo because a teammate picked it up for me. Heading down to the start via the subway was uneventful, though we did cut it a little close. I had just over 20 minutes to meet my other team members and do a few sprint warm ups on the street beside the corral. Then I waited by the barricades as the hand cyclists flew by me. I had to get into my corral quickly – the race was about to begin.
2/ How was the race itself?
Tim – While the non-morning-person side of me was whining a bit about a 7:30am race start for a 10k race, I did at least appreciate the race being Saturday rather than Sunday. I find it ridiculous that Toronto has highly attended road races that start on Sunday mornings before the TTC subway service starts, and in this case it was a quick subway ride to St. George Station and you were at the start area. Typical of many races there were way too few porta-potties for the number of runners at the start line. This resulted in a 20 minute wait in line followed by a too brief 5 minute pre race warm up. Maybe they should have colour coded corrals for the washrooms too, as it can be a tad frustrating standing in line behind people who start the race 15 or 20 minutes after you. It feels a bit like getting stuck behind that guy at the racetrack who is talking slowly and betting on race 5 when there is 30 seconds left to post…in race 4.
The new course (this race in a past incarnation ran down Yonge Street from Eglinton) was nice and scenic, and mostly familiar if you have run the Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon. Early on in the race there were some sketchy road conditions that could have used some repair, so you had to watch where you were striding…but that was only a short stretch early on. There were some very enthusiastic spectators lending vocal support along the way, particularly at the turnaround point around 7k. I felt like we were in the lead pack the way they were cheering. It was quite a jolt and caused me to speed up rounding that corner. I liked the fact that there was two way race traffic for quite a bit of the course, so I could watch for the lead pack coming toward me. It was pretty cool seeing Olympians Eric Gillis and Reid Coolsaet blast by at the front of the race.
Dave – There was plenty of room to warm up well; I walked into the red corral 15 minutes before start time, and found it easy to get to the front, from where I was able to stand right behind the Olympians who were also running (always a thrill to stand on the start line behind such athletes). I found it quick to use the toilet but that’s probably because I always try to go half hour before start time, you leave it later than that and the queues grown to the extent that you risk missing the start, no matter what race you take part in nowadays.
The opening km was downhill, you had to watch the road though as there were tram lines, as I remember, and a few potholes and uneven sections. Then we were running past the base of the CN Tower and out onto a wide highway – no more dodgy surfaces to watch out for here.
I was kind of dreading the slight uphill that I knew would come at around the 7km mark; I’ve run this route many times so I know it well. But I’d forgotten that when I usually run this slope it’s after 20kms or so, so to hit it at 7 felt not so bad at all. I was most of the way up it before I started to think about it at all, and I didn’t have to lower my pace much.
You see Lake Ontario briefly as you run, and the lake is not far at all from the finish line and chill out area, but you are seperated from it by trees and parkland for much of the way so don’t expect too many wide open views of the water.
I was unsure if this race was Personal Best territory – the previous incaration of the race, which was called the Yonge Street 10km, was much more downhill and seemed much faster on paper – but in the end I did run a personal best time of 39:11, over 3 minutes faster than my attempt last year of the Yonge Street 10km. So I guess I’d say that if you’re on form and want to really go for it, then you have every chance of setting a PB (or PR as we call them in Canada) on this course.
The home straight is great, you can see the finish line from half a km – at least – away. At moments I felt like it wasn’t getting any closer but it was good to see how long I had to go so I could give it all I had.
As usual, the Canada Running Series put on a great event. Superb marshalling and volunteers, great post race party and a really nice medal and t-shirt. For those out of towners, or indeed those overseas, who wonder if it’s worth travelling to Toronto to do this event I’d say yes, most definately. See you in 2017!
Virgil - I realized at the last moment that I still had my heart rate monitor around my waist – eek! The gun went off and the red corral burst out of the gate. I was calmly shifting the HRM up to my chest as the tail end of the red corral was crossing the timing mats. Fortunately, it all worked out because another team member was there and we ran over the timing mats together and paced it for an easy 4:55/km pace for the first 3k. It was a pretty scenic course as we ran towards Skydome and CN Tower and out along Lakeshore.
Soon, the hand cycles were cruising past on the return leg of the race, and I made sure to catch some video of them. It was great to see Eric and Reid shortly after them, both enjoying at least a half minute gap to the rest of the field. Then I started looking out for one of my team mates so that I could catch some video of him. As I ran further on, I still could not find him… then I started wishing NOT to find him (as the 40 minute pacer ran by), because that would have meant that he was not on a PR pace!
I knew that I was not going to have a PR pace in this event, due to it being a fairly flat course. The slight uphill at 8k+ did make the pace maintenance more difficult, and the sun was stronger now. One good thing about a straightaway finish is that you get a clear indication of how much effort to meter out. Before I knew it I had crossed the finish line and was congratulated by my faster teammate Dave. I really enjoyed the Panera bagels at the food stations, particularly the apple cinnamon bagels. It went well with Oasis protein juice drinks, which they were rationing at the beginning, then dumping on us en masse at the end.
Kat - The race had staggered start times for each corral, each starting 5 minutes apart. We had three water stations along the route and two cooling stations with fans and mist. I’ve been getting back into running and wanted this race to test my fitness level, but unfortunately before the first kilometer I stepped into a pot-hole and twisted my ankle. The initial pain shocked me and I tried to walk it off, but I knew my hopes for a PR was done, and it became about finishing the race. I ran as much as I could until I needed a walk break. My run speed had decreased because now I was trying to find ways to land on my left foot without causing too much pain. I stopped looking at my Garmin watched and just started to enjoy the racing experience and how beautiful the route was.
The route was mostly flat. It was closed traffic with police patrol, so it was safe, except for the potholes which weren’t the race organisers fault. Route clearly marked out, and there were bikes and marshal to direct the runners. It was pretty hard to get lost in this race! I saw the people in costume from the Justice League and there were even runners with baby strollers. Between walking and running I managed to find my way to the finish line and I was happy to be awarded the 1st Edition medal for this race.
3/ Tell us about the post race experience and, how would you sum up the race.
Tim – I think everything about the post race experience was put together perfectly. It couldn’t have been easier to get water and Gatorade, and unlike some races that funnel a large crowd through a small area like cattle, there was plenty of room, and access to the cold drinks was there whenever you wanted it. Getting to the food was super quick, and my new favourite thing at the end of a race is eating a bagel (or two) from Panera. They are the freshest and tastiest bagels ever. I may only run races that offer Panera bagels at the finish from now on! Did I mention I liked the bagels? Olympians Krista DuChene and (race winner) Eric Gillis were available to chat eith and get a photo alongside as well, and that line was about ten times shorter than the pre-race washroom line so everybody was happy. And I really liked the technical shirt and race medal design!
Dave – The post race free food was top class, excellent bagels and as much water and gatorade as you could drink. There was also a nice send off party for the Canadian Olympic athletes going to the games in Rio soon with drummers and dancing girls – all good fun. It was cool to chat with the Olympians Eric and Krista, who were both really approachable and happy to pose for photos.
Kat - We walked along the wide finishers chute to get our medals and into a meet up area. There were dancers, drums and an award ceremony for the Olympian runners. John Tory the city mayor was here as well. Food wise, Panera was a sponsor and we had three choices of bagels, with Apple cinnamon as my winner. There were also bananas and cookies in the food tent and Oasis gave out free juice samples and protein shakes. Bag checked was organized and based on race number, easy. For the first time, I got to test out the medics at the race. My ankle was getting more painful and eventually needed medical attention. I sent a friend to get a bag of ice for my foot, and within five minutes he came back with two medics on the back of a golf cart. They applied a compression wrap to my foot and gave me a bag of ice, which helped a lot. Leaving the race was easy too; there were TTC buses stops close to the finish area.
Virgil – The clear highlight of the day for me was the drummers and samba dancers performing a “Rio Send-Off” to our Canadian Olympians Eric, Reid and Krista. It was definitely unique, and kudos to the organizers for pulling all that together. John Tory was there on stage to speak to the crowds. I don’t know what I liked more: getting multiple selfies with the friendly samba dancers, or that Eric and Krista (not sure where Reid went) were so accessible for photos and autographs at the Olympic booth. Both of them autographed my bib – now that’s a bib worth keeping! Ok fine, I keep all my bibs. Footnote: Eric won two races in the span of 14 hours – this race (by 2s) and the Canadian Championships in Guelph (by 18s – must have felt good winning on home turf). Krista was no slouch herself, winning the women’s race by 11s.
Unfortunately, I learned after the race that one of my team mates injured her ankle early in the race and had a difficult run. However, thanks to the medical team present, I was treated to a short ride in the golf cart with a bag of ice from the finish line to the grassy fields where she was waiting. They were very friendly and caring as they applied a compression bandage and filled out a log. Fortunately public transit was easily accessible and soon we were on our way. Top marks to the organizers for running a smooth operation, from kit pickup to a well-marked course to plentiful water stations to the Rio Send-Off.