Sunday, May 1, 2011

Race Report: The 2011 Big Run 10K

...or, as the people running it called it - the 10K that was actually 14K.  WTF?!?!

In retrospect, I can't be as cruel as I had planned on being about this race.  I've had a few hours to reflect and gain some perspective.  It wasn't a great race, but mistakes happen...

The day dawned fairly nice.  It was cool-ish out but it was perfect running weather.  I had some stomach issues at home, but they seemed to resolve themselves by the time I got in the car (running late, of course) to head into the city.   Our Saturday runner girls had arranged to meet up at Bowness Park at 7:45am, figuring that would give time for pitstops before heading to the start line.   I was about 10 mins late, by the time I parked the car and hurried over to where I saw the rest of them.

Start line pics from Mr. JS's camera :)
A shot of all of us

JS, C, J and Moi

That little tardiness made the start time zip towards us and, before we knew it, we were lining up and getting ready to head out.

The race started right at 8:15am and we were off.   Through the gate and then making a left at the first crossroad.   This brought us out of Bowness Park and into a residential area.  JS commented that the route was MUCH different from the one last year.  Since none of us had really seen a route map, we just kept going with the pack.  There were absolutely no course marshalls anywhere.   Just after the 2K point, we saw our first one, directing us to loop around in the residential and head up a different street.  It was an odd route, but we figured we must be where we were supposed to be.

After looping, we had to run up a short flight of stairs, which brought us back to the first street again and we were headed back to the park.  As soon as we hit those stairs, my knee started acting up again.   We saw some fast looking people coming towards us and had an ominous feeling that it was going to just be 2 loops of this odd residential route, but then when we were back in the park, the course marshalls were there and were directing us back into a wooded trail.

The trail was a little mucky, but not as bad as it might have been (given the spring we've had thus far).  we wound west along the trail until it came to the pedestrian bridge under the Stony Trail bridge.  By this point, we were a good 6K into the race and had yet to see a water station.  And the 4 of us were needing one since we'd opted to run sans fuel belts.

Very soon, we were coming up on 8K on the Garmins and still no water station.  I was cramping really REALLY bad so I shooed the three of them to go on ahead without me.   That was when we came around the corner and saw THE HILL!  Yikes!  It seemed to rise out of the path nearly vertically in front of us.   I didn't see a single runner even attempting to run up it!  I could see my runner girls just ahead, but there was no way my cramping side would have let me catch up.  The hill was also messing with my already sore knee, making every few steps feel pretty spectacular (*sarcasm*)

The course marshalls by this point had their work cut out for them.  I was feeling pretty bitter about how long and poorly supported the race was and I know I thanked them and then threw some sarcastic barbs.  I imagine they got some pretty bad stuff from the people who really prefer to complain about everything.  Many of them just let it slide off of them, but you could tell that they weren't really feeling like infusing any sort of spirit into the race.  Lackluster cheering seemed to be the order of the day.

I started to run again after the hill...slowly.   Finally the "10K turnaround" was in sight.   and there was a water station there.  My runner girls were coming back toward me with a cup of water.  I gratefully chugged it back and then turned around so I could be with them again (I may have cut the corner a wee bit instead of going right to the turnaround...but, hey, we were at 9+K at this point...)

I tried my best to stay with the girls for the next little bit, but the cramp had never really gone away and it was making it really difficult for me.  I tried to wave them on, but on JS and C went ahead.  J stayed back with me to slog out the last 4K.   We walked and ran our way to the finish.  The last stretch went right by my car and I joked about driving us the rest of the way to the finish.   There was also a kid on a bike and J told me that it wasn't nice to steal a bike to finish a road race so we were forced to hoof it the last kilometre.

Mr. JS came out to run us in the last half a K. He had been in the 5K (that turned into a 7K) so had the scoop from the finish line.   Apparently they were offering free registration for next years race to make up for the additional distance.   I was pretty grumbly about that so was reasonably cheered when he started to describe the food tent.

In the end, I crossed the finish line in 1:36:51 (official time).  Slowest 10K EVER!  LOL. But I got a 14K race PR out of it :P   In fact - the distance we covered was about the same as what a loop of the reservoir was during the construction last fall, and I did it over 10 mins faster than I ever did that loop.

The route the race went...courtesy of my Garmin
All in all - this was NOT a great race.  I want to give it the benefit of the doubt because this was obviously an error.  Whether the course marshalls just didn't show or we were maybe given bad direction - it was still adding nearly a third of the distance onto the overall race and it made for a difficult slog.   I feel really bad for the people who ran it without being properly trained for that distance.   And the people running their first 5 or 10K ever.  I feel that the Running Room should have quickly figured the error and corrected the course accordingly. 

The food tent, however, was fantastic.  Bananas, orange slices, granola bars, chocolate bars, crackers, energy drinks, hot chocolate, juice, string cheese.  It was a great post-race spread.

Will I run it again next year?  Well, I put my name down on the free entry list.  I'll probably give it the benefit of the doubt because JS did speak so highly of it.  Of course, if I am bitter about it as it approaches next year, I'm not going to feel bad about skipping it.

The funny thing, now that I am looking back on it, is that I am a lot less pissed off at the fact that there was extra distance.   Because our garage sale and the mothers day run are next weekend, I was going to need to miss my planned 16K - so doing 14K this week is probably better for my training plans anyway.   I am most pissed about the lack of water stations thing.  This is the second Diakonos race that I have done that had a water station issue (the St Paddys race removed the last water station before all of the runners had passed it).   For a 10K race, I don't expect that I should need my fuel belt.  They only need to set up 2 stations and keep them up to turn a 10K route into a route with 3 water stations.   A runner shouldn't need to wear a belt if the race planners do that.

I am disappointed that a race that is being managed by the Running Room would be so poorly set up.  I would expect much more of them.   I'm hoping the disaster that todays race was will be a sign to them that they need to put in some additional effort when a race carries their name.   To leave runners without fluids for that long and then not even provide anything but water for them (no gatorade or anything) could have had some pretty dire consequences.


  1. At least now we have a new 14 km route to run! And we'll be distracted by remembering that one time we did the crazy 14 kilometre long 10 km race.

  2. Uh - remember Everest? If you try to make me run that in training, I'll quit :P


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