3 Bests – what aspects of the race did you like the most
1) Course is quite favorable. Some rolling hills in the first half. Just after halfway, course heads down Red Hill Parkway dropping ~350 feet over 5K. Great cruising miles. Remainder of course is quite flat along the shores of Lake Ontario.
2) Race seems fairly popular with speedy Canadians, so even though its a smaller race, you won’t be running alone unless you are well under 3:00:00.
3) Very convenient race day set-up with spacious indoor staging area at start line which is quite nice given that it can be chilly.
Not so much – aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you
I chose this race for the speedy profile and the cool temperatures likely on race day – ideal conditions for me. I did not know that Hamilton can also be quite windy. At times during the last 5K along Lake Ontario was running into 20 – 25 mph headwinds. Also had to run into wind for a few miles in the first half. I believe the day was windier than average, though apparently the race three years ago had similar if not worse conditions. Overall, though, I think the favorability of the course and the weather helped more than the wind hurt.
Weird factor – what’s the weirdest thing about this race
1- Your vocabulary will expand to include the word “escarpment”, and you will gain first hand experience with this geographical feature.
2- Hamilton bears a striking resemblance to Indianapolis circa 1988, for those who are into that kinda thing. So, take Indianapolis 1988, include progressive biking and pedestrian infrastructure, add ethnic and cultural diversity via a heavy immigrant population, and transplant the city to a more beautiful location on an escarpment on the shores of a great lake… BAM! It’s the same thing.
Highlights of your race – what did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular
I did really well at pacing. Managed ~2 minute negative split. Profile of course probably provided a minute of that naturally. I remember letting a lot of people pass by me (at least 20) in the mile 7 to 10 range as we dealt with some hills and headwinds. Had specifically talked with Matt about need to run by effort rather than pace if wind was an issue, which helped give me resolve to stay back. Was fun reeling those people and more back in over the second half.
Lessons Learned – share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner or yourself on the next time around
Negative splits are possible!
Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race
Red Hill Parkway is super favorable 5K at just after halfway. Hold back prior to this point. There is a short section of trail after the Red Hill Parkway. It was wet and a bit slippery, but pay attention and it’s not a big deal. Finally, the out and back along Lake Ontario is on a dedicated trail, but it is wide and paved in asphalt. Great running without any issues of congestion, but can get windy.
Organized and well run – did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?
Very well organized.
Weather and typical race conditions
Perhaps ~40 degrees F at start. Race day high of maybe 50. May be windy, with gusts easily above 20. Given route race followed this year and direction of wind on race day, you had ~3 miles into wind in first half and then finishing 5K into wind along shores of Lake Ontario. Wind was pretty atrocious around 40K, but overall I don’t think it was a huge hindrance.
Spectators – is this a friendly course for your friends and family?
Very spectator friendly for the last 10K, which is an out and back along Lake Ontario. Dedicated cheering section could easily catch you four times during the race.
How’s the swag?
Eh. If swag is your deal, this race will disappoint.
The Overall Score – how many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it
5 stars (out of 5). I decided the check out the Canadian marathon scene after dying in the muggy conditions in Houston 2017. Not disappointed. Highly recommend this race for people that want a high probability of good conditions for running fast.