How does a 30K race around Hamilton Harbour sound?  Too short?  How about if we make it 35K instead?

That’s what happened this year.  The traditional 30K race – oldest on the continent, first run in 1894, older than the Boston Marathon – got pushed to 35K due to construction and a last minute sinkhole detour.

Nevertheless, we’re warriors who have been fed, and so we headed out to Hamilton bright and early on a Sunday morning.

Carmen took off first, running the 5K and finishing it in great form.

The day start out cold.
Carmen here wearing winter running gear and a snug facemask designed to trap warmth as she embarked on this chilly morning run.

After that it was Nadine, Paul, Geetika, Martina and Simon’s turn (thats me).  There were about 3500 people running the race, so we were let go in waves about every 5 minutes.

Having chosen the longest line for the port-a-potties at the start, I began the race waaaay at the back. Resisting the urge to go full speed off of the start line (and gas out after 1 or 2 kms) I settled into a comfortable pace and enjoyed the sites and sounds of Hamilton, gradually passing other runners.

The first kilometer or so was new, running from Tim Hortons stadium up to the route we are used to from past runs.  Then its through the streets of Hamilton, through the industrial area, up onto the highway, across the bridge, and through the suburbs on the way back.

As I reached about 7k I thought I recognized someone up ahead and sure enough soon found myself running alongside Geetika, running her longest race ever. If I remember right, she’d only run 21 k once before, a couple of weeks prior.  She looked strong and happy and we ran together for a little bit.

After 9K I put the pedal down a little bit, wondering if I could catch with the next person.  Would it be Paul, or maybe Nadine? Definitely not Martina, I can’t catch her on my best days.

The weather was tricky; it had been cold at the beginning, but around 10K I had to stop and shed my long sleeve shirt. Later on I contemplated running into some bushes and taking off my running tights.  I didn’t though, and probably for the best, it got cold again at the end.

Around 17k someone told me that Paul had passed through about 10-15 minutes ago.  If we were running at the same speed that would put him 1 – 2k ahead of me.  Doing some quick math I would need to increase my speed by about ……

… I didn’t do the math, if I caught him, I caught him.

Somewhere between 20 and 30k the race got hard.  Not as hard as last year, when it was the first time I had ever run this distance, but a tough slog.

Around 27 or 28 K there is a nice long downhill run, followed by a grueling uphill climb. I got about half way up it before I slowed down and joined the rest of the walkers.

Shortly after that you pass the cemetery and the grim reaper, who tells you how terrible you look and that you should probably just sit down, before maybe high fiving you or posing for a picture.

As this race is normally 30K there was a timing mat at the 30k mark, so that runners could compare themselves with previous times.  A lot of folks, myself included, hit that 30k mark and stopped, preferring instead to walk the final 5K back to the stadium.

By this point it was a bit cold for that though, so I walk/runned my way back, doing roughly 500m segments, and of course pouring on the gas for the last few hundred meters and through the finishing gates.

Never caught up with Paul, or anyone else even.  Martina finished at a blistering pace, Nadine a bit behind her, followed by the rest of us.

Can I give a shout out to that cheer squad – best squad ever!