If you've read any of my other race reports you'll know that I hold these events in high regard because of how inexpensive yet excellently well-run they are as well as how they create an easy access point for runners and racers of all experience and ability levels. If at all possible I try to make it to each of the local MEC Barrie races even if it means that I incorporate the race as part of the day's scheduled workout.
For the 2016 edition I resolved to try to tackle some of the shorter distances offered in each of the series events - one of the things that I've wanted to do is to try to increase my overall speed and so at the behest (okay, that might be a bit of a strong term ...) of our RunNinja sensei Jim I signed up to tackle the 5k option for Race One. A number of the speediest RunNinjas also selected the 5k as their race of choice - including Mike, Rad, Mark, Robert, Trevor, Rick and James - which meant that we had a pretty decent chance of showing up on the podium but that I would be eating a lot of their dust.
The ambient temperature for race day was around -12°C with 25-30 kph winds making it feel more like a balmy -18°C. I arrived about 90 min. before start time and managed to sneak in some warm-up miles with our resident RunNinja photojournalist Rob (who was running the 10k event) and Mark. We scouted out the various points along the Barrie Waterfront trail where the wind would really factor into the equation as well as sneaking in the requisite pre-race potty stops.
We should have figured that the fact that the Speed River Timing crew had vehicle troubles and showed up later than expected might be a portent for things to come. More on that later ...
All in all there was a great turnout for the event, and MASSIVE representation by the RunNinjas! If we all had matching race kits (and it was about 20 degrees warmer!) everyone would be wondering where this running club came from.
The 5k race included unofficial 'corrals', as Chris (the race MC and general manager of MEC Barrie) called forward everyone who anticipated finishing the race in under 22 minutes toward the front of the starting chute. Optimistically I wandered toward the start line timing mat thinking that (like the videos of Mo Farah that I'd watched the day before) I would try to tuck in to the rear of the lead group and follow them home, hopefully putting in a decent final kick to overtake a few competitors.
We're allowed to dream, aren't we?
While things started out reasonably well (with me holding to a 3:50/km pace) for the first bit, it came unraveled by about the 2km mark. I was hoping to cruise comfortably for the first third of the race and push a bit in the second third, but that section of the course turned slightly uphill and my legs starting feeding back that I was still asking more of them than they were ready to deliver. Even at the halfway-point turnaround there was little relief as the now-downhill section was counteracted by a discernible (and cold) headwind. It took almost everything that I had to not lose complete sight of the lead pack and to stay on the heels of a female runner who had been plugging along for the first 3k with one shoelace untied and flapping dangerously around (I did let her know about it!).
Over the final 2k I tried to make a bit more of a push and passed the female runner ahead of me (only because she finally - and strangely - decided at around the 4k mark to stop and tie her shoe) but was passed by my pal Rad in the final 800m as he put on a burst that I couldn't match. I wound up crossing the finish line in and around 20:25 - and if it sounds indecisive it's because the original results posting had me finishing somewhere in 30+ min. It turns out that the timing chips were messed up for some of us, and even in the process of trying to rectify things the corrected results show me finishing ahead of Rad, which I know didn't happen.
On the plus side Mike and Robert both finished in the overall top three for the 5k distance (check the gun time) and five out of the top 10 spots were held by RunNinjas (seven of the top 15 if you factor in Trevor and Ricky's great results as well). There were a lot of terrific performances out on the course, and I was privileged (as part of my cool-down run) to accompany RunNinja supreme Helen as she cleared 60 min. in her 10k race!
Robert and Mike, two speedy cats!
Helen crushing it!
It was another fine community running event hosted by MEC Barrie - I think that they cleared 350 registrants for this first race of the year, which is phenomenal! This series is definitely growing in popularity and participation ... and hopefully we RunNinjas can continue to grow along with it!
Next up ... Race Two on the trails!