Trek and Run were supported during this event by;
Virgil – The fact that Lululemon was sponsoring this race as well as the race shirts suggested that the event was going to be popular with women. In fact, I read post-race that 68% of the field was female, and that was readily apparent as soon as I got to the corrals. That’s good to see, it felt ‘right’ to have a more even mix between the sexes and it also, to be honest, brought a lighter, more fun mood to the morning!
I messaged my Trek and Run teammate on their ETA as I was heading over to the start line. Apparently, an alarm clock was missed, which caused a bit of pre-race anxiety, as my race kit and bib was with them. No matter, I warmed up and took some pictures and shortly after 7am they arrived, just in time for me to fish out my bib and drop my bag off at the bag check buses, with 4 minutes to go on the late bag check at 715am.
That didn’t give much time to get into the corrals, so we rushed some selfies and went to the corrals and waited for the handcycles to start, 5 min before the main start time.
Before long our gun went off and being about 10-15 deep from the front meant that there weren’t many people in the way as we ran out. The first 3k were fairly easy paced but when we hit the uphills of the Gardiner ramps it started getting warm rather fast. I followed the routine of drinking one cup of Gatorade, dumping two cups of water on my head, and drinking one cup of water afterwards to clear out the sweet taste of sports drink. That was a pretty good cooling strategy as we wound our way down Lakeshore towards the turnaround. At around 5k, I saw the lead runners already on the opposite side of Lakeshore, soon followed by one zany (and fleet-footed) joggler juggling three balls. There were plenty of supporters and cheerleaders drumming up support, along with bands creating a festive atmosphere. It was a sweltering morning at this point, and I was mopping up sweat continuously. Perhaps I should wear a sweatband? Coming back up the finishing straight, I took shelter under the tree shadows as I passed runner after runner. Then it was over…
The sleek, beautifully designed medal was hung around my neck, and drinks and real lemony cloth towelettes were passed out. Good thing they mentioned what it was, otherwise some people may have bitten into the toughest energy bar of all time. THEN CAME THE LULULEMON FREE DONUT WALL.
A delightful, almost whimsical wall of baker’s confections awaited us in an array of designs. Now that was a interesting and unique touch. The donut was an interesting flavor, I can’t really describe it but it wasn’t your typical oversweetened sugar rush (other than the topping).
After that we lined up to have our photos taken. Another great touch with this race was that the photos were free!
Many positive comments were made about the minimalist and subtle design of the free race shirts. With only a tiny logo on the back and the race name printed in the right sleeve, you could mistake it for an ordinary fitness shirt. Among the overflowing stack of loud and gaudy designs on my clothes rack, it was a welcome relief!
This was a well organized and executed race and my expectations were all met. It is most highly recommended, and definitely a race to put on your calendar next year.
Dave – Yes, it was I who missed his alarm clock – don’t keep mentioning it Virgil, I’d only flown back from Costa Rica 24 hours earlier!!! So I woke to the sound of pinging text messages, saw I had just 50 minutes until race start, jumped out of bed and into my running kit in 1 minute flat and ran down the road to the bus stop. Not ideal race preparation, but some days you just don’t get it right!!
I lined up near to the 40 minute pacer, thinking that since my regular 10k time is around 39 minutes I’d tuck in behind him for 5km then cut loose and see what I could do. But after a km or so, roundabout when we passed below the CN Tower, I started to think he might not be a reliable pacer. I was running as fast as I could and he was pulling away. ‘Ah, he doesn’t know what he’s doing,’ I thought, ‘I’ll let him go and run my own race instead.’
Turns out he knew full well what he was doing, and I was way off pace. As I went past the 5km clock I saw it read just below 22 minutes. I was shocked, wow, how slow was I today! It could have been the sun – it was ramping up to around 26 degrees I think and there was no wind off the lake – or that I’d had no breakfast, or that I’d been on holiday with little to no fitness done for the past 2 weeks and gained a few pounds. Probably the latter, to be honest…
I thought I might try to gain the time back but then I passed a cheering station where around 20 or 30 young people were cycling on exercise bikes and cheering at the same time and I thought, ah, what’s the point, this is a great occasion, people are working hard to help us all have a good time, I may as well write this race off as far as a fast time is concerned and just enjoy it. Don’t misunderstand, if you’re on form you might well hit a personal best time here as there isn’t a lot of uphill and the road surface is excellent, but today was clearly not my day.
So I enjoyed the cheerleaders and the many supporters, and the beautiful hot day, and finished with a cheer and a jump!
Then the post race fun began. As Virgil has mentioned, there was a massive donut wall to negotiate, then the face towels, the medals, bananas, drinks, all free, which was very generous and exactly what I’ve come to expect from a Canada Running Series event. Then I walked up to the event village…
…and joined in a mass yoga session hosted by Lululemon. It was exactly the sort of thing you should have at a post race party but so rarely do; we all need to stretch out after a run but how many of us actually do it? So that was great.
There was also a water bottle refill station – so no need to use loads of plastic cups or bottles, which is an excellent step forward in the fight to free our oceans and lakes of life-nulling plastics - and free massages. And after the yoga, we were even invited to take the mats home with us!
The Canada Running Series just keep getting better and better and I love their events. They’re large enough to give you a big race atmosphere – there were about 7,000 runners at this 10k – but small enough to still feel like friendly, fun, community based runs. If you’re in Ontario this is definitely an event worth travelling to Toronto for, and if you’re overseas, well, the same applies!