The Trek and Run Team were supported during this event by;
Run for the Toad is an annual trail running event for all the family that takes place at Pinehurst Lake Conservation area in Ontario. Before we talk more about the event, here’s a film that’ll give you an idea of what we experienced at the Expo and the race itself
Ok, that should answer a lot of questions you might have. Here’s a few more observations.
This is my favourite trail event of 2017. The 50 mile race we did at Blue Mountain was great, don’t get me wrong, but Run for the Toad trumps anything out there at the moment if you’re in the market for a family orientated, super friendly event which is large enough to offer the atmosphere and competition of a big race but small enough to keep it’s regional, rural flavour. The race directors, George and Peggy, are approachable, very visible on race day and both emanate a genuine gratitude that’s uncommon in the running world, in my opinion. They started this event years ago but they’ve not lost sight of the fact that whilst an event needs individual spark and fire to get it started, it’s a community that keeps it going, and George said often during the weekend, as he took to the stage and addressed the crowds for various reasons, that he and Peggy felt so very honoured to be part of this community. Sometimes when I hear this sort of thing being said I get a feeling it’s not very sincere but coming from George, standing in the eye of the whirl of positive feeling created by the design of the tented village, and the crowds, I had no doubt that he spoke from the heart.
The tented village was just right. A small-ish expo with very good vendors, including a new outfit called Instavit who offered lots of samples (I tried their ‘Sweet Dreams’ sleep spray and it knocked me out for 7 hours. I haven’t slept that long in years, so I can attest to the quality of the product, check them out if you can)…
…and a huge big top-style food tent with plenty of seating where runners and families could gather and eat in comfort.
On the subject of food, the post race meal is worthy of mention. All too often the food on offer at events is junk, which might be what runners want after a race but it’s certainly not what they need to help recover from their exertions. But at Run for the Toad the menu was healthy whilst being mouth watering, and served up by pleasant staff – it was clear that George and Peggy hadn’t taken the cheap food option here, money had been spent on getting this right. There was a choice of veggie dip with raw pepper, chickpea salad, quinoa salad, Greek-style pasta, green salad and veggie burger (or chicken if you’re still behind the times and into meat) and a raspberry crumble for dessert, with a choice of lemon tea or lemonade to wash it all down. Then at the side of the tent there was a Tim Hortons stand operating from early morning on race day till well into the afternoon, serving free coffee, tea and donuts or cakes. Here’s a shot of my meal, I couldn’t have wanted more to help me recover from what was a testing race.
About the course; here’s a map.
As you can see, there were lots of twists and turns. There was also plenty of space to run. Never was I on a piece of single track and cramped for room or having trouble passing somebody, which was good news as there were several races going on at once with varying degrees of runners and walkers going at very different speeds. There were hills, for sure, and then downhills that allowed you to run full out, as well as many a flat section where you could really build a solid pace up.
The course was also very shady so even though it was a beautiful day we were rarely in the open sun for long. And when we were, the views were superb. Here’s a shot looking back over the lake to the tented race HQ.
The kids race went off first, then the 50k which involved a Canada vs USA relay match, and then the 12.5km and 25km events started at the same time.
Each time a run started the Canadian army pipers began to play. I loved that, the pipes made such a stirring music.
I enjoyed my run and finished just before the Canada relay team won the 50k. Both teams ran incredibly fast and Canada only won by a minute or so. Here’s a shot of the victorious Canadian team with race director George, and the trophy…
…and here’s both teams after the race.
Each runner who took part in any of the day’s event got a great duffel bag and also a well designed medal that celebrated both the race and Canada’s 150th Anniversary.
If you’re after a trail race weekend experience in beautiful surroundings, organised by lovely people, you should check out Run for the Toad in 2018. To our friends in the States, Europe and the UK, and elsewhere, this is one worth travelling to Canada for. We hope to be there again, so see you at the start line!