Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Road Races in Burlington
A weekend long celebration of fitness, food and fun is set for March 2-5, 2012, here in Burlington. Runners and walkers are coming to race in the Chilly Half Marathon & Frosty 5K Sunday March 3, 2012. This race has become one of the best and largest half marathons in Canada and it’s made Burlington the place to race for many athletes.
With such great perks as a beautiful route along Lakeshore Road, a technical jacket included in every race kit for the first 4,200 to register (yes that is correct, a cool jacket gratis) and free beer and chili after the race, who wouldn’t want to be here! As far as I’m concerned, free beer is enough of a lure. Organizers from VR Pro have really worked hard to make the Chilly Half a very fun event.
What is really amazing this year is the half marathon walk was sold out first! This is a interesting trend to pay attention to. So many runners or former runners still want to compete in races but aren’t running anymore. Whether it’s injuries or just a desire to try something different, power walking is becoming really popular.
Having power walked a half marathon myself, I can tell you that this is a race you train for just a diligently as if you were running it. These walkers move fast! Last year, the winning time for the top runner was 1.07 and the top walker, a female by the way, came in at 2.22.45. Do the math and you’ll see these walkers are moving at quite a clip, with some averaging about 6:30 minutes per km.
The weekend’s festivities starts on Thursday, March 1 and run until Sunday. Participants can pick up their race kits and visit the race expo at the Waterfront Hotel. There is plenty to see, do and eat including a free short fun run on Saturday morning with great guest speakers like Mark Sullivan a marathon pro and coach and a pasta party at Paradiso (try to say that three times fast) for $35 on Saturday evening. Post race, there are numerous Stagg Chili and Carlsberg beer parties at various restaurants downtown including Beaver & Bulldog, The Dickens, Eatalia, Paradiso, Pepperwood Bistro, Purple Heather Gastro Pub, The Queens Head, The Rude Native, Honey West, La Costa Nuova & Big Tomato and The Slye Fox Pub. Look for the running chili pepper logo at participating restaurants. The awards will be presented at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre and there are some really good prizes.
The race starts at Brant Street and Lakeshore, in front of the Waterfront Hotel. It’s a straight run, pardon the pun, out to Burloak Drive and back. Organizers get the disruption caused by traffic closures so this year, the finish line will stay open for 3 hours and 45 minutes. If runners or walkers are behind when police open the roads, they will need to move to the sidewalk. To keep everyone happy residents and spectators, can get a free coffee at refreshment stations at Guelph Line and Lakeshore and Walkers Line and Lakeshore courtesy of Coffee Culture.
About 70% of the athletes registered for the Chilly are from out of town. They are coming from such cities as London, Barrie, Peterborough and Whitby and will be filling up our hotels, dining in our restaurants and shopping in our stores. What a nice boost to our economy and a great chance to show off our beautiful city.
If running or walking 21.7 km is not your thing, there is still time to sign up for the Frost 5km race until February 29, 2012. This is a wonderful opportunity to get kids and parents moving and everyone can enjoy the activities after the race including prizes in numerous categories, starting at 10 years of age and under.
The charity benefiting from this years race is Cancer Care at Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital. Giving back to a charity that directly benefits our residents has always been a part of the Chilly. In the past, the race has raised money for equipment used in breast cancer detection and last year, a portable ultrasound machine was donated to Jo Brant. The target this year is to raise money to start a program for clinical trials for cancer patients at Jo Brant. Anyone who raises $500.00 towards Joseph Brant Hospital gets a free entry into the race.
A mere three weeks later, is the grand dame of road races, the prestigious Around the Bay Road Race takes place on Sunday March 25, 2012 in Hamilton. This is the oldest road race in North America, first run on Christmas Day in 1894.
Not for the faint of heart, the course is challenging and draws elite runners such as Olympic gold medalists and Boston Marathon winners including Tommy Longboat and Jerome Drayton.
There are four categories for this very popular event, a 30km walk/run, a 3 person relay team, a two person relay team and a 5km run and all been sold out since February 6! That means 10,500 runners and walkers will be racing that day along with hundreds coming out to watch and cheer. Everyone who finishes the race receives a medal of gold, bronze or silver based on their time. There are cash prizes for the top five male and female runners overall and the top three male and female finishers in the masters (40+) categories. There is also $1000 up for grabs to the male and female finisher who sets a new course record.
The race starts on York Boulevard, just west of Copps Coliseum and follows Hamilton’s natural harbor as the race is run in both Hamilton and Burlington. It finishes indoors at Copps Coliseum which is great for fans and families who want to see the finish in comfort.
The last part of the race is always the hardest and there are some entertaining characters along the route to keep your spirits up. On Spring Gardens Road, just before the last and longest hill, there is a man who plays “We are the Champions” and high-fives the runners. Once you make it to Woodland Cemetery, there is a person dressed up as the Grim Reaper to cheer you on! Runners note, the race is not over here!
There will be a two day Health and Fitness Expo at Copps Coliseum free for participants and the public. It opens Friday, March 23, from 1-7pm and Saturday March 24, from 10-5pm.
The Race Around the Bay has been a charitable event since 2005 and all monies raised will go towards patient care and research at St Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. Although the race is sold out, charity spots are available for those who raise a designated amount or donate to St. Joseph’s Healthcare Foundation.
France Fontana Hart