Race Review – Johnny Miles Half Marathon

11013080_798510466891706_6610389288627846750_n

IMG_8901

If you talk to a lot of runners around the maritimes you will inevitably hear a lot of great words about the Johnny Miles race that is held in New Glasgow near the end of June. It’s often referred to as the small town race with the big race atmosphere. I had been intrigued for a few years but having run the Miramichi Rock and Run the last two years, on the same weekend, I just couldn’t fit it into my schedule.

However, after last years Legs of Literacy, Paul Merrigan and I, standing in the lobby of the Delta hotel, decided to run Johnny Miles this year and to see what the hype was about. I was told that the race has apparently won the best race in the Run NS series plus it’s 40th anniversary so it seemed like our timing was dead on!

My girlfriend Nicola and I left around noon on Saturday for the 31/2-4 hour drive to New Glasgow, which was entirely on twinned highways under sunny skies. We even managed to synchronize our times with Rod and Joanna Paul and had lunch in Moncton before we all made our way to New Glasgow. We arrived just after 4pm, dropped our goods off at the Comfort Inn and headed into town to collect our kits, check out the start/finish, the downtown core and attend a meet-up of other runners at a local pub.

The kit pick-up was at a multi-use venue right long the river which made for a pretty spot. We saw tents outside of the building and naturally walked into there first. Inside were a few tables and the t-shirt station, first we needed to go inside and pick up our bibs. If there is one thing that bothers me the most at races it is poor signage, a simple sign to indicate kit pick-up inside first then shirts outside would have been appreciated, or having everything put together ahead of time would have been preferred, whatever happened to that set-up? Regardless, kit pick-up was painless and we even stopped to get our photo taken for the Canadian Running magazine promo, however we bypassed the carb loading because we had a few runners that couldn’t eat regular pasta. We made the short stroll to the start/finish then to the local liquor outlet to pick up some NS beer then we headed to the pub.

IMG_8917

The meet-up was at the The Dock, a pub in downtown New Glasgow and was the initiative of the Maritime Race Weekend People, having never run this race i didn’t have any gear to wear to be included in a draw or to get a free beer. I refused the use of a shirt but was happy to find that Murphy’s Irish Stout was on tap…don’t stone me but I prefer it to Guinness. We ate our last pasta meal there, had a pint and chatted with a bunch of people then ultimately left just before 8 for rest and sleep.

1519677_10153282591920659_7583506636739134745_o

20997_951190871611709_4214956144441906375_n

The day broke partly-cloudy on Sunday morning but rain was forecast for later in the day and I’m sure more than a few people were happy when the rain held off for the entire event. We had breakfast at the hotel, chatted with a few other runners and it was then that I made a prediction for Paul Merrigan’s time; it was a secret only know to Nicola, until after the race. We easily found a parking spot and made our way to the start, we were pretty early so I availed myself to the short line at the port-o-potties, always a good idea, then waited for our race to start. We watched the 5k runners leave then we got into the chute but it was apparent that the 10k and half marathon people had already been lining up behind the 5k runners because the chute was pretty full, that mean that we started closer to the back. Another thing that I noticed was that there weren’t any pace bunnies, JM is now big enough that I believe that it could benefit from this organizational addition. regardless we were off in less than 5 minutes…race on!

10473445_10153282590740659_6414133222800519645_n

We started out uphill, then crossed the river and were onto the roads. At this point it was a race like pretty much every other, undulating hills, commercial places and few supporters. We passed by our hotel and continued to run towards Stellarton, climbing ever-so-slightly as we went. At Bridge street we turned left and had a sharp downhill back into the river valley, this is where we joined the trail system…and a train….always a train!

The trail system was nice and wide and reminded me a lot of Fredericton, I made good time however I still had to pass a few people on the gras who were occupying the whole trail at points….people…keep right if you are not passing!!!! I climbed the only real hill, shortly thereafter came to the main bridge and went under the bridge on a steel grate type structure. On the other side of the bridge was a park and the only true section where there was a lot of fan support. We continued on along the trail until we joined back with a road, then headed out to the turn-around point. I headed back along this road until we met up with the bridge road then completed the loop once again. I met up with Joanna Paul somewhere between 6-8km I think and we ran together until about 11km then I went on ahead. The second loop was much emptier as there weren’t any 10km runners and the half marathoners had thinned out. i hummed along, keeping a steady pace, climbing the hill and passing the bridge. However just after exiting the trail to the street I became very tired and needed to walk…curses! I walked for maybe 1-2 minutes then resumed my running, this time at a slower pace. I noticed something disturbing though on my return loop on the streets, instead of the runners following the path, some had exited early onto the street after the bridge. I wasn’t overly happy to see this as not only is the traction better and you use less energy, the street section has less undulation. Keeping on I came to the turn sign finally, crossed the bridge, picked up my pace and hoofed it into the finish line unaccompanied, meaning I got to hear my name called all on it’s own; finished in a time of 1:57:52, a new PB! I was a bit miffed as I had a 1:55 finish time going until about 15km but in the end, any time that you can knock 2 minutes off of a PB you say thank you! I met up with Paul and said hi to Kimberly MacKenzie then waited for Joanna, Nicola and Rod to finish. Each came in with various looks of joy/pain on their faces but each was upright and had another half marathon to their credit!

10866267_10153282591880659_4827073378397004629_o

We headed back to the multi-use centre where we picked up pre-packed lunches, even a vegetarian option for Nicola, relaxed a bit then headed to the motel for our drive home.

A successful run for me which also stressed my need to increase my fitness up to and especially past 15 km but a new PB is always welcome and again I can out uninjured. Congratulations to Paul Merrigan on a new PB of 1:42:28, which as you may recall I had made a little prediction on before the race…my guess…..1:42:38….yes, be scared. Proud of Joanna, Rod and especially Nicola who didn’t have the best day or running but finished like a champ with the help of Rod.

IMG_8903

So with the hype that I had heard ahead of time I’ll be honest, the race didn’t live up to it. I was underwhelmed at most instances, I enjoyed the finishing chute but thought that it would have been better. The runners on the road disturbed me greatly and I have sent a note to the organizers but have not yet received a response. Would I recommend JM? Yes, with reservations. It was a well run event but I had higher hopes of more community involvement I think, there was one park where there were a lot of spectators, some creative writing on the road in one spot and the finish was good but lots of sections were quiet and I guessed I expected more.

Next up: Covered Bridge 10 km in Hartland, NB on July 12th.

Thanks for reading!

One foot in front of the other

Chris

Advertisements

Race Report – The Inaugural Fredericton International Airport (YFC) Runway Run

10407642_864434677012304_2993972755449611776_n10608528_716751695113937_2995977159307370613_o

On Saturday May 23rd I participated in my second runway run but the inaugural event of this type in my adopted town of Fredericton, New Brunswick. The event was held on the runways and taxiways of the Fredericton International Airport (YFC) and consisted of a 5 km out and back route.

I had a personal interest in seeing this event succeed because I was the initial liaison between the communications officer at the airport, Kate O’Rourke and our running club, the Capital City Road Runners. Our club had been looking for a community event to support and/or develop so the partnership happened at a great time. It was the desire of both groups that the event help raise funds and the awareness of a cause. Due to the recent interest in mental health and the experiences of some of the people involved with the race, we contacted The Canadian Mental Health Association who were more than excited to be a part of the event.

The race was held on a Saturday and the day broke, cloudy, cold and we had….snow! It turned to a very cold rain before my girlfriend Nicola and I left for the airport which at least was an improvement; however it was also very, very windy.

11221321_866927580096347_8430023773850758779_o

Courtesy of The YFC Runway Run

My girlfriend and I, along with running the race, were volunteering. We were handing out shirts and race kits which placed us halfway between the open doors of the pavilion, in which we were situated, this kept us the maximum distance from the cold air; bonus!

11270520_866927620096343_778328183595877249_o

Courtesy of the YFC Runway Run

The runners trickled in and I said to Robyn, the other volunteer, that the majority of the runners will show up at noon. Sure enough around noon we became busier until finally it was time to race. My girlfriend and I changed into our running kilts…yes you read that right and we joined the line of other runners to go outside. As luck would have it the sun had come out and it was somewhat warmer but the wind was still very strong and it was cool.

10443161_867005273421911_4688477931862202351_o

Courtesy of the YFC Runway Run

We walked a short distance out on the apron then we were off! We started off almost directly into the wind which made for tough going for the first 2-2.5 km of the run but then we turned and ran with the wind which was of course a treat 🙂 With about 1-1.5 km left we again turned back into the wind and finally with about 500-700 metres we turned directly in to the wind!! Now let me tell you, I have run in a bunch of races and this was the strongest wind that I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. Maybe it was the openness of the runway I’m not sure but it was very, very tough going. However Nicola and I powered through and finished hand-in-hand with a time of 28:52. Fun!

P1150563

Courtesy of the YFC Runway Run

YFC Runway Run_Finish (33)

Courtesy of the YFC Runway Run

We met numerous friends at the finish, hugged, high-fived then wandered into the terminal to get our medal and a few snacks.

11233574_859059634216475_7310044885613951780_o

Swag

We stayed for a while and chatted and listened to the winners of the race and of the various draw prizes but alas we did not win. However we did learn that the race had raised over $20,000 for the Mental Health Association, this was indeed a win and it certainly made the chilly, windy run worthwhile.

Just as we were leaving the skies opened up again and we beat it home to try to warm ourselves in front of the fire.

I would qualify the race as a success, sadly the weather was  terrible which limited the viewing of the static displays but the money raised and the nearly hitch free organization more than compensated. I would imagine that the race will be held again next year, whether I will run is undecided but I love supporting my adopted hometown, my club and a good organization so it’s entirely possible. I can certainly see myself volunteering once again.

Next race…. Half marathon at the Johnny Miles Race Weekend, June 21st in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia.

Thanks for reading!

One foot in front of the other

Chris