Yesterday was supposed to be a great day. It was the day that I was going to test the progress of my broken ass by taking to the streets of Toronto and completing my first double digit race in a year.
But the Sporting Life 10k was a total clustercuss.
When I lined up for my corral, I KNEW it was already off to a bad start. With the race directors being the same people that organize the Goodlife Marathon, I knew I was in for a race that would be disorganized at best.
Just walking up to meet jainey and some of my friends, I knew the race would be a mess. The sheer volume of people lining Yonge Street was crazy. I was starting pretty far back in the purple corral as I was afraid that I wouldn’t be 100 per cent back to normal and run a sub-1 hour 10k. Lining up, I couldn’t tell where the corral finished or started and there were no volunteers to ensure that you were in your appropriate corral. For a race that was quite explicit about the importance of being in the right corral and the enforcement of such, it was sort of bizarre but I didn’t let it bug me. The lack of a volunteer presence meant that the Hulk could stay with me right until they led us up to the start line. This was also because we had no clue the race had even begun.
When we finally made that push toward the start, the purples got mixed in with the green bibs (the corral ahead) and oranges (the corral behind) were pushing past me to start. Some teenaged volunteer with a megaphone tried to let us know that purple had to stay back but he was giggling and saying, “I think” after his directions. It made me wonder if they were serious or just there for their own amusement.
But I left the confusion there (or so I thought) once I stepped over the first timing mat, and I just ran easy. I was marking each passing kilometre with ease, not even realizing I ran the first 5k in under 30 minutes, a feat I haven’t been able to achieve in a couple of years At 6k I felt an ache start in my rear and slowed down just a little bit to ensure it wouldn’t be angry later. Just after that, I happened upon the second water station that was being manned by a group that runs out of my old Running Room. Despite their best efforts, the station was understaffed and was in no way prepared to accommodate the advertised 27,000 runners as I saw a few hurrying to replace the half full cups being quickly snapped up. I picked up a cup from one of my running friends, thanked him profusely and went on my way.
As I approached the 9k mark, I realized that only 53 minutes or so had elapsed since I had crossed the start line. I could have a sub-1 hour race! I decided not to push myself the rest of the way and if things were meant to be, I’d get there in time to make my A goal (B was under 1:10 and C was just to finish).
I did anticipate what happened at the finish. As I approached the inflatable arch, I looked down at my Garmin again to see that a 59 minute finish would be a reality. But looking at the finish, that reality quickly became a dream. There was a crowd of runners stopped before the arch and slowly walking over the timing mat.
Whisky. Tango. Foxtrot.
At first I thought it was those runners who have no clue about race etiquette and had come to a dead stop at the finish without a care for those behind them, but I soon realized it was an even bigger problem. Seemed as though the race organizers, in their attempt to funnel us to a park two streets south of the finish line, had not planned to give us unrestricted access all the way there. Instead, we had to wait for our turn to cross the streets as traffic zoomed by.
So there was no sub-1 hour but a 1:00:24 finish. Awesome.
(feel free to play “Where’s Marie?” in the picture to the right)
Once I got to the park about five minutes later, I ran into some other running friends who missed PBs thanks to the line up to finish and queued to pour my own Gatorade (once I found a cup). After a short game of cell phone Marco Polo, I found my lil brother, who had an AMAZING race and finished in 44 minutes, and high tailed it out of there to find a very frustrated Hulk. The poor thing got stuck in traffic getting to the finish and only found a parking spot way over at Ontario Place AFTER I had finished. Our speedy getaway was short on the speed though as we had to wait for crossing runners to make their way across Lakeshore to the park and had to squeeze left thanks to a bunch of asshats who felt they were entitled to park in the right hand lane to wait for other runners.
I know I was only one of MANY runners upset with this race. One of my running friends Kenny has summed up all of the feedback and found great footage that shows just how screwed up the race was. If you’re looking for the best examples of how NOT to run a race, hop on over to his blog and if you were at the race, make sure to leave a comment.
Although I’m upset by my experience, I am THRILLED that I passed my test with flying colours. But I will continue to be bitter about the B that should have been an A.