Trek and Run were supported during this event by;
Adam - Sunday morning began nice and easy with a later race start than usual for me. Traffic into Toronto from Hamilton flowed smoothly. Although I worried the Spadina exit might be backed up, as Spadina is part of the race route, there was no issue and parking on Front St only cost $12. I parked across from the Rogers Centre. This put me within 5 minutes of the start/finish line.
My Trek and Run teammate Pam picked up my drop bag so no stress there! The crowd inside was festive to say the least. Green was definitely the color of the day!!! I had never warmed up by doing Irish jigs before but when there is a live Irish band to serenade your pre-race, then that’s how you roll.
A familiar baritone (from the Spartan races) soothed the crowd as he announced race day details. Eventually everyone left the warmth and the band to head to the start. Before long we were off along Bremner Blvd. Being my first officially timed 5km I wanted to push hard. The wind and cold picked up along Wellington. I think it was around -10°c. With the fast pace of a short race it didn’t seem to bother me. Before long the lead pack passed and I couldn’t believe the speed! With a mostly flat course this happens.
It encouraged and inspired me to run hard with so many Achilles athletes and coaches tearing up the field. What a great spirit amongst the participants. The last 500 meters had thankfully a slight downhill grade which levels 100 meters or so before the finish.
After I crossed I received a beautifully shinny medal, food, water and love. I met my Trek and Run teammate Tim (actually for the first time) and before long we had a chilli and a beer in hand. What could be better?
Given the chance I would change one aspect of the race; the rest of my day. Clear your schedule. Make sure you have nothing else to do. I had to rush back to Hamilton but could easily have stayed to dance the day away with the band and fellow runners. A wonderful day in all and crossing at 23:52 gives me a year to prepare for my return and a possible PB.
Pamela - This has to be the most fun and festive race of the year. There is something about St. Patrick’s day that gives us hope for the spring to come and makes us want to party the winter blues away with a big blast of green. The atmosphere at the Achilles 5k Toronto is great, with lots of green shirts, funny hats, Irish music and even chili and a beer at the end of the race. It ‘almost’ feels like a night out at the pub, because the race starts and ends at the Steam Whistle Brewery. Almost, because we can’t forget about the 20 – 40 minutes of pain (depending on your speed) that is the 5K!
Five kilometres is a great distance because it allows athletes of all abilities to participate, but it also showcases the incredible speeds of the elite runners! I love the out and back nature of the race because you get to see those incredibly talented winning athletes in action. I entered as a speed walker this year and I was pleased with my time of 34:50. I love the inclusivity of this event; even in the cold there were many walkers participating, and of course it is humbling to see the blind runners and walkers taking part. This is a great event, a fast, flat course and a fun way to welcome spring. To be sure!
Tim - One of my favourite annual running traditions has become lining up for the Achilles Canada St. Patrick’s Day 5k race in Toronto. One of the obvious strengths of this race is that you start and finish at the Steam Whistle Brewery. As race distances go, 5k races can be a little painful, but I really look forward to getting out there and testing my speed in a sea of green clad and shamrock festooned runners all having a good time, even through the short term pain. You also can’t help but be inspired by the blind runners you see along the way, guided by Achilles Canada volunteers. After crossing the finish line and getting your medal, you migrate into the Steam Whistle roundhouse for some hot chili and a pilsener. Yes, they hand you a beer after the race! If I had any constructive criticism of this very well run race, it would be (and I’m admittedly biased): start the race with some Irish music (not samba music) in keeping with the St. Paddy’s Day theme. But post race, with a live band playing Irish music inside the roundhouse, and beer and warm food, it’s pretty much the perfect way to follow up a race. Good times.
Dave – I love starting a race at the bottom of the CN Tower. What a fantastic sight it is! The rest of the surroundings aren’t bad either, with early morning light bouncing off the mirrored windows all around. It might have been freezing cold, but it was also very beautiful.
So yes, to recap, it’s a fairly flat course, definite PB territory, and the route is well marshalled with very enthusiastic volunteers. Ontario excells in super friendly, local style races and this one is up there with the best of them. I ran a decent PB, 18:31, and really enjoyyed the entire occasion. It’s hard not to! Irish band, a free beer and pot of veggie chilli to refuel with, a warm place to relax in, plenty of free Cliff bars on offer, a great atmopshere among all and lovely teamates to share it all with. And, of course, it’s all in aid of a brilliant charity, Achilles Canada. Everybody I know speaks highly of this race and so do I; whatever your aim – a fast 5km or a fun morning out – I thoroughly recommend it.