Trek and Run were supported during this event by;
All photographs, unless otherwise stated, by David Wise
First, to give you a firm idea of the event, here’s a short video Dave shot as he took part.
Three of our team took on this event (2 of them got personal best times, it’s a very fast course!); here’s what we thought of the day.
Tim – I have to admit I found the shuttle bus schedule from Bronte Station to the event village to be a bit odd. I’m not sure why anyone would be on a 5am bus to arrive at the park for 5:15am for a race that starts at 7:45. And the last shuttle leaving Bronte at 6:45am seemed a bit early to me as it’s only a 10 minute drive to the start line from there. We elected to take our chance with parking near the start line though and found parking easily on the residential streets a couple of blocks from Coronation Park. While I was initially grumbling about the early start time, it made sense when we arrived just in time for a spectacular sunrise over the lake.
There was a huge lineup for porta-potties before the race started but a little investigation led to a nice clean washroom building a couple hundred yards away that most people didn’t seem to realize was there. Pro tip; if there is a line up at the toilets next year, find the building by the playground and use the indoor washrooms.
As for the race itself it’s a pretty flat course, so I’d say ideal for running personal best times. While that wasn’t in the cards for me on this day as I’d run a 12 hour race the weekend before, I couldn’t help but notice how fast a course it is. Downtown Oakville is scenic and lovely, the roads are flat – without many holes – so you can concentrate on your form rather than the road beneath you, and the race was well planned with lots of volunteers and smiling Halton Regional Police directing traffic at intersections.
If I had any criticism of the race itself it would be that the pace bunnies seemed to be rather loose with their timing. I saw two different 2 hour pacers, both very far from each other. The first one was running well ahead of 2 hour pace, and was about 20 yards behind the 1:55 pacer well into the race. The second 2 hour pacer that eventually caught up to me when the wheels fell off of my race seemed more accurately paced. But then I heard that she crossed the line at 1:57 or so. I’m not sure how accurate the quicker pace bunnies were, but if you were looking to break 2 hours they might not have been much help. The volunteers and spectators were extremely encouraging though. The race definitely had a great atmosphere.
Post race I’d say the Oakville Half rates very highly. For one, there was no cattle call herding you through bottle necks of runners so that you can get your medal, some post race calories and find friends. These are a common “feature” in certain Toronto races. In this race you approach the finish, get to hear your name called as you cross, and have the medal around your neck and food in your mouth sixty seconds after finishing. A lot of race medals look pretty similar, but this one was a little different shape and a very cool design.
To sum up, with the mostly flat course and the introduction of cooler fall weather, the Oakville Half makes a great race to pencil into your calendar for a shot at a personal best time (and if the weather is clear, the location offers one of the best sunrises you will ever see!)
Virgil – The tenth edition of the Oakville Half Marathon came with the challenge of beating my old half marathon record from 2014, which was an exciting prospect. Having moved up to the marathon distance since then, I had’nt run a half in a long time so I knew I was in for a sub-two hour intense effort. I got up at 4:30am and drove down to pick up my running teammates, then headed over to Oakville. After looking at the maps and seeing plenty of residential parking available, I decided against going on the shuttle buses offered at the GO Station, to avoid lineups. Once we parked on a side street I knew it was the right decision as Coronation Park was a short walk away.
My teammates picked up my race kit which included the usual goodies and a smart looking technical shirt that had a simple, understated design on it. I prefer this to the loud shirts with huge fonts of other races. The beach offered a fantastic view of the waterfront, with the CN Tower and downtown office buildings in the far distance. I took a good number of panoramic photos until the sun finally peeked over the horizon and the skies became dazzlingly bright. I also met with Eric and his friends, who were pace bunnies for 1:30, 1:35 and 1:45. I was kind of hoping for a 1:40 pacer to test myself, but settled for 1:45. This was going to be a good day!
Soon we were lined up at the start. The gun went off and we exploded out of the gate. I found the first few kilometres fairly easy going, Eric and Chris were doing a great pacing job keeping us on track, slightly ahead of schedule. I helped myself to a drink or a head soak at each water station, and quickly caught up with the group and soldiered on.
Around 10k I felt the pace was a bit laborious, and I nearly scared myself when I looked at my Garmin. It said 183, and I thought it was my heart rate for a moment. No, that was my cadence, thank goodness! Eric said his heart rate was 142bpm – mine was 20 beats higher, showing that he was fitter than me. I was starting to struggle to stay with the group now – I’d start to drop out, then crank up the pace to stay in touch, then slip again. Then it happened. I took some water at the 12k water station and the group was suddenly 15s ahead of me. No matter how I tried I could not reel in the group that was so tantalizing, teasingly, torturously close but slipping out of my fingers like sand. My legs weren’t listening to me and my lack of distance running training betrayed me. They slowly gapped me and disappeared up the road.
I dug in and tried to maintain my 5 minute pace but it was a challenge to even keep 5:30, and my average pace started to creep upwards. I knew I had a PR in the bag, all I had to do was to focus and keep the pace up and it would be mine. I got some encouraging words from other runners, and two runners were very helpful in helping me keep a 5 minute pace for a short time. Finally, I rounded the corner and ran past the finish line – 1:49:06 – a new half marathon PR! As usual David did an immediate post-race interview while I was trying to catch my breath. He disappeared to capture the podium ceremony, and my other teammate Tim ran across the finish line shortly after.
After collecting our medals and taking a few photos, we heard the last few winners being announced to collect their prizes, and we visited the sponsor booths that we had missed while we were enjoying the waterfront sunrise. This race was a fast and flat course and since it’s held in early fall the cooler weather means it’s great for PR hunting!
To discover more about the Nutrience Oakville Half Marathon, please visit http://oakvillehalfmarathon.com/
Photo by an official race volunteer photographer; thanks to the photographer and the organisers for this one!!!