March 31, 2017

Around The Bay 5k Race Report

by pyrad
Categories: General Running and/or Fitness
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I’ve finally finished the set: Now that I’ve run the Around The Bay 30k (four times), 2-person relay, 3-person relay, and the 5k, I’ve officially done all of the Around The Bay events!

As I mentioned in the Chilly Half-Marathon race report from a few weeks ago, I didn’t have the best training season. And after Chilly I had some minor surgery, then a not-so-minor flu. So, I got very little running done between these races.

Last year’s ATB was really cold. The forecast was for rain and a -4 windchill, so I worried it would be really cold again. I was conscious to try not to overdress like Chilly. So, I went with a shell jacket. And, for the first time, I tried the often-seen combo of baggy shorts OVER tights.

It felt like I had to go a long way just to run a 5k. I could have run a 5k much closer to home. Instead I drove over 100km round trip to do it with others at this event. Totally worth it!

In contrast to previous years when I went to these races hyper-prepared I felt like such a n00b heading to this year’s race. I wasn’t carpooling with anyone, and didn’t have plans to meet with the group before the race. I even slept in too much so I was rushing to Hamilton. The off-ramp I planned to use was already closed, and so I was flying by the seat of my pants trying to figure out where to manoeuvre and park.

I wound up parking in a lot much further north than I expected. I retrospect, it turned out to be quite advantageous; being so far from the race meant I could get back to the highway and avoid all the road closures.

And, I usually meet with a group inside Copps Coliseum the First Ontario Centre but didn’t have time. Instead I stumbled into the Jackson Square mall, which was thankfully open, and warm, and had bathrooms. Lots of runners were milling around, especially 5k folks. There were also sketchy-looking people that may have been homeless. Sometimes it’s hard to tell homeless people from runners… except that runners sometimes have more brightly-coloured clothing.

I did run into Cassandra, my personal trainer who was with her friends to run the 5k. Small world!

Shortly before the race started, I dared to go outside into the wintery weather and warm up. I got to see the start of the 30k race. I thought it was really neat when the passed a big Canadian flag backwards over the crowd. I stayed by the starting chute for a while hoping to see some familiar faces. I did see Danielle from Square One, and Sam.

I did a few more little jogs to try to warm up and get my heart rate up. The wind in front of the First Ontario Centre was quite cold, and STRONG; I almost lost my hat 3 times!

In the corrals, I noticed a lot of different kinds of athletes. For the 30k, it’s mostly a pretty hardcore, serious runners group. In the 5k, there was a deeper variety. Sure, there were the elites and young athletes wearing shorts who seemed very intense, but there were also folks in winter jackets and t-shirts from charity sponsor organizations, and everything in between.

I was glad we 5k folks got to do the big Canadian flag passover thing too!


Canadian Flag being passed back over the corrals before the start of the 30k (photo from Around The Bay’s Facebook page)


The 5k race itself was what I expected. There were quite a few walkers. The 5k’s “corrals” were not effective. There was a sign for 31-minutes and slower and I dutifully stayed behind in the corral. But I think I was passing and weaving around walkers for the first 2km.

To my surprise, the wind seemed to die down immediately after starting the race. Maybe the wind tunnel effect in front of the First Ontario Centre was amplifying the windchill. Needless to say, shortly after I started running, I started feeling warm.

About 1km into a race, a gentleman pushing a stroller dropped a cell phone in front of me. I picked it up and ran it back to him. Good running karma I hope.

The course has a slight uphill towards the turnaround. I was hoping that the downhill would give me a little boost.


Around The Bay 5k map (source)

I was surprised to see the Grim Reaper character at the turnaround. He is a common sight at Around The Bay, but I didn’t expect to see him for the 5k. I thought the reaper was pretty mean saying things like “this must be the 5k” and “you people are WAY too slow.”

On the way back I saw my friend Maggie who was doing this event as a fundraiser! Way to go Maggie!

The downhill stretch back to the First Ontario centre was very familiar, as was the finish line. It occurs to me that this is the 7th year in a row I’ve crossed this finish line, albeit from a few different starting points.

In the end, I was proud that I ran the whole 5k without any walk breaks. I didn’t look down at my watch once and just went by feel. All things considered I’d say that’s an accomplishment in itself!


Date Event Goal Time Chip Time Gun Time
2017/03/26 Around The Bay 5k Finish 33:16.9 36:58.2
Around The Bay 5k Finishers Certificate


After the race we got our usual goodie bag, and I went to the Running Room booth to get a souvenir ATB toque!

The Running Room’s Mississauga Regional Manager was there and seemed surprised I “only” did the 5k. My reply was a glib “Gotta Catch ’em All” :p


Post-race selfie wearing the medal


I felt almost surreal knowing I was done before most people got to the half-way point of the 30k. I was home, showered, and eating lunch before most finished the 30k!


Around The Bay 5k medal and shirt


I do want to highlights something really awesome I saw on Around The Bay’s Facebook page later on race day. They did something really special for the last runner!

It seems all the attention is just on the elites and winners: They get confetti, prizes, trophies and acclaim. Well, Stonemill Bakehouse sponsored a special surprise for the Last Place Runner! As Sandra Holder finished the 30k around 5 hours and 15 minutes, streamers and confetti rained down and a marching band celebrated her finish. She even wins a year’s supply of Stonemill Bakehouse’s slow-crafted bread. Great marketing, but I’m also really impressed that the honoured the DFL athlete!


You will lo(a)ve how great the prize was for Around the Bay’s last-place finisher


Now I’ve run Around The Bay four and a half, and a third, and a 6th times. That adds up to five times technically, but not really. Will I ever do the whole 30k again? Maybe, depends on my 2018 goals.

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