Oh my gosh, I love this race!
Since I started running and looking up races and reviews about races, I've kept reading about how people love the Around the Bay race. Granted, most of them are talking about the gigantic 30K (which is on my radar now!) but the whole atmosphere, organization and spectacle that the Oldest Race in North America presents is amazing!
The weekend started with me making a trip out to Hamilton to pick up my packet. This was one of the only things that bugged me about the weekend. I had to find some time on Saturday to escape, drive out to Hamilton and pick up my kit. I understand the chaos that can come from the race day pickup, but it was a pain. The only good thing was that I had an idea of where I was going on race day and didn't have the stress of where to park, where am I going, etc.
The race didn't start until 9:45, so getting up and getting out to Hamilton wasn't a big deal. My older son was up at 5:40 with a washroom accident so after dealing with that we slept until 7. I didn't leave until 8:15 and was all packed the night before so it was a quick hop into the car and off I went. I followed the same route as Saturday but I knew the exit I took Saturday was closed. Luckily, there were about 100 other cars getting off at the next exit, filled with people wearing running clothes so I just followed them.
Once parked, it was a short walk to the arena where I was able to use a real washroom (not port-a-potty), stay warm inside (without jumping around) and sit and watch the start of the 30K. I waited about 5 more minutes and headed out.
The weather was absolutely gorgeous. A little windy but sunny. I don't think I could have asked for anything better during this time of the year.
I lined up just past the 26:00 - 30:00 time sign because I'm usually just over 30:00. The race started and I spent the first 1.5 - 2 km zig-zagging around all the walkers that lined up ahead of me. That was the other frustration. There were tons of walkers which was great, but they didn't line up properly, or stay to the right. The was even one pack of about 6 that walked in a line across.
Once I hit the turnaround point, it cleared out a bit more. I bypassed the water station and then it really cleared out. From there I pretty much stayed in my 'lane' and right into the finish line. My favourite part was definitely running down the ramp and into the arena where lots of people were cheering and celebrating.
The food, water and awards were done really well and methodically too which was fantastic! I wanted to hang around and watch some more finishers come in but I needed to get home.
I'll definitely be doing this race again and if I finally run my half marathon in the fall, maybe I'll graduate up to the 30K. We'll see.