I printed off the web page for the race and the instructions were bang on so this was a nice start to the event. The venue was a new, massive community centre (RIM Park) on the outskirts of Waterloo and was a nice and quiet park setting. The community centre contained the registration area in one of the large banquet halls that also served as the post race holding area and was conveniently close to the start/finish line and parking lot (lots of spots and FREE). After completing the registration I got changed and started to warm up. The arena was large enough to hold a couple of hundred people in the hallway and lounge areas so most participants took advantage and stretched inside as the temperature was a little on the cool side. With around 10 minutes left before the gun I went back outside to get in some running and to drop off my gear. My car was right beside the line so I didn’t have to worry about storing my stuff in safety.
As 6 o’clock neared all entrants hit the line and waited for the horn. They counted down the final seconds and the horn blasted and we were off. The group bunched down the first stretch and into a corner but there was enough room to pick a spot to get into the pace early. The road course was mainly fast and flat with very little traffic (police and traffic control were on site as well), so there was a lot of open room once you got moving past the first 400 metres. Each km was marked with a large sign and very easy to see from a distance so you had no trouble figuring out where you were and all turns had friendly volunteers and pylons to point you in the right direction. They had a water station at the mid-point of the race that was down a long, straight stretch of country road which was a refreshing change from the city scenes I see all week in Toronto. This straight-away ended around the 3.5k point of the race and we turned toward the arena where we hit some small, rolling hills as we twisted along the 4k portion of the run, taking us to the last turn up a small grade climb of 200 metre or so to the finish.
I was not exactly sure how my race was going as I forgot my stop watch, but was happy to see the time clock at the finish ticking towards a new personal target. I hit the jets and came across the line in a new PB, a full minute faster than my previous race time for this distance. I had a feeling my training was making progress but this was a nice confirmation of that assumption.
I waited around for the awards ceremony held in the banquet hall and fueled back up with their pizza, bagels, oranges and yogurt. The hall was well laid out for this event and there were plenty of tables for all competitors and fans. After a long list of draw prizes from their running sponsor they drew a bib number for a mountain bike. This created quite the moment of levity as the winner started to take the bike for a little spin but, as he turned back to the podium, he lost traction and hit the ground. He was alright physically but had bruised his ego. Funny stuff. After the overall top three winners were presented their awards they handed out medals to the top three in each age group and also top in weight categories, teams and couples.
Overall, I was very impressed with this event and had a great day for a low cost of $25. The event staff and volunteers were friendly and cheerful, the course was fun to run and the atmosphere after the race was welcoming and supportive.
Well done RunWaterloo!