Waterfront — Good times all around

30 09 2007

crowd

Great day along the lakeshore today.

Ideal weather conditions. Believe it was about 61 F/16 C at race time. Very little wind, a striking contrast to last year’s gale-force treats.

The race has grown a lot in recent years, and has grown up nicely as well — unlike other local marathons that have creaked under the strain of bigger fields.

The organization was uniformly strong, from the system of ‘seeding’ faster runners at the front to the barriers that kept the runners, literally, on course. Sorry it made it a bit harder for spectators and residents to get around, but the end result was a smooth, easy-to-follow course for the participants.

more crowd

Kudos to the organizers for bringing the 5k into the mix as well by having the finishers come alongside the half-marathoners. Was good to see that race get a little time in the spotlight.

There were a number of small touches, too, from the free “Canada” wristbands to the spirited bands and cheering stations along the course.

As for the times, we have a 2:09:30 by come-from-behind winner John Kelai, the fastest marathon ever on Canadian soil. What a finish watching Daniel Rono chase him to the finish, just six seconds behind.

Congrats to Kenny, as well, for a sizzling 1:31:33. Good luck at the MCM. And my sister, Erin, beat her goal time by four minutes and didn’t even yell at her brother for almost making her late by being too flipping casual about getting to the start line on time.

erin

My sister, Erin, right, and wife, Julie, in the cool-down area.

As for me — that was perhaps the most enjoyable race of my life. Not a PR, but close, but that didn’t really matter much. It’s the first time I’ve been out in a loooong time without the pressure of needing or wanting a specific time.

I had an absolute blast from start (getting to the corral at 6:59:55) to the high-fiving, fist-pumping antics along the last 200 metres. I’m cringing at the thought of the race photos.

Not bad considering the three glasses of wine last night, and the five hours of sleep. Damn, 5:15 a.m. comes around early.

Cheers to my mom and dad for making the drive up to see it happen, and to Julie, always my bedrock. (You have to say that about the person who brings your dry clothes to the finish line.)

screen

Big screen near finish = fun

roy thomson

Sports drinks and sunshine near Roy Thomson after it’s all said and done.





Gebrselassie does it – new world record!

30 09 2007

This is shaping up to be an amazing day for distance running.

More on the Toronto Waterfront festivities later (there’s brunch to be eaten, after all), but the shocker out of Berlin is that there’s a new men’s marathon world record.

Haile Gebrselassie pounded out a 2:04:26 this morning to shave almost 30 seconds off Paul Tergat’s top time of 2003. Hoo-rah! What a feather in his cap after a distinguished career on the track.

More later.

Now it’s time for bacon and eggs. Would you think less of me if I have a Sam Adams before noon today?

* More T.O. Waterfront coverage





Expo Waterfront and centre

29 09 2007

scotia expo

Don’t want to blow too much sunshine in the general direction of the Waterfront Marathon, but they very much do know how to put on a successful race expo.

Aside: Yes, I’m biased because a) I always manage to get to this one on Friday afternoon (when it’s quiet) and b) it’s usually the first race, and hence the first race expo of the fall.

It has:

* Consistently good speakers on stage (Bingham, Stanton, etc.)
* A wide open space at the convention centre
* Unfailingly friendly volunteers — and I mean *really* friendly and helpful
* Nifty little extras, like this year’s “picture with the race trophy” freebie.

If only they had a sampler tap of beer like at the Marine Corps in Washington. But I digress.

Another source of happiness: I love this little quirk with the race bib…

race bib

“Sub-elite”? That’s what you’re called if you’re running a 1:35 or less. Sure, it’s a wee bit of easy flattery. But I don’t care if it’s preceded by “sub” or “quasi” or “not really an” — seeing the word elite next to that race number is a damn fine feeling indeed. Watch out Kenyans, I just might catch ya. Or not.

Speaking of, probably turn in for the night. Can’t believe we need to be down there for 6:30ish. What will the Nuit Blanche stragglers think of the early morning masses? Or are we just another art installation?

Oh yeah: CBCSports.ca has full coverage.





For the culture vultures

29 09 2007

For anyone who likes to be outdoors, Into The Wild – the based-on-a-real-life tale of Chris McCandless’s disappearance and eventual quest for survival in the middle of Alaska – shouldn’t be missed.

It’s one of the most beautifully-shot movies I’ve ever seen, but McCandless’s story (based on a meticulously researched book by Jon Krakauer) is equal parts inspiring and troubling. Go see it.

Download this — new tracks

* M.I.A. – Paper Planes
* Bruce Springsteen – Radio Nowhere
* Band of Horses – Is There a Ghost
* Hard Sun – Eddie Vedder





A new beginning

28 09 2007

It’s funny where life takes you.

Six and a half years ago, I ran my first “competitive” race in High Park. I half-heartedly took to the start line at the insistence of my then girlfriend — now wife.

About half an hour later, I finished: a wheezy, bloated, red-faced mess. But I was hooked.

I’ll never forget the feeling of accomplishment at the end of that first 5k. The surge of adrenaline, the camaraderie of the runners, the noise of the crowd and the thrill of competition.

It’s led me to places I never thought I’d go: Eight marathons, several half-marathons, 25 pounds lost. Hawaii, Amsterdam, Washington and Ottawa.

It also gave me the incredible opportunity to serve the running community as the Toronto Sun‘s “In The Long Run” blogger.

As many of you know, I recently parted ways with Sun Media, but I don’t want to leave the writing — and all your comments, support and occasional (OK, frequent) gentle jabs — behind.

So, today, a new beginning. I’m launching seeleerun.com to cover the community, give a few insights and hopefully make you laugh from time to time.

It will be a bit more personal and a little looser than ITLR — but I won’t bore you with talk of track splits and what I had for breakfast yesterday. (A bagel with cream cheese, in case that does interest you for some reason).

Anyway, hope you like it.

Oh yeah, comment often. No sign in required.





Running for a good cause

26 09 2007

It’s fair to say that David Buwalda’s race at the Toronto Marathon will be a little less exotic than his last marathon.

I mean, there probably won’t be any marshals on the course making sure a stray elephant doesn’t trample the runners, like at the Safaricom Marathon on Kenya’s Lewa Wildlife Conservancy.

But it will be special nonetheless. He’s doing it, in large part, for a cause.

David will be running in support of ICA Canada‘s “Listen to the Drumming” campaign when he runs the half-marathon on Oct. 14.

The money he raises will help to fund projects to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa — in a sustainable way that brings out the best in communities.

Combining running — he’s been at it, on and off for about 12 years — and his personal passion for ICA Canada (where he has a position as a liasion with African projects) is a natural fit.

“You get so much from the other people running,” David tells me. “Everyone’s really friendly and you can have a chat.”

David says 250 people have expressed interest, but the “Listen to the Drumming” gang is looking for other runners to join the team.

You can still pitch in — just sign up for the race through the ICA Canada website. Bonus: You’ll get a small discount: $69 (full) and $59 (half) as opposed to $95 and $80 if you go through the race.

You get group support – and ICA Canada’s drum teams will give you an extra cheer along the route.

David says the group is hoping you’ll raise $100 if you join the team. There’s a BIG reward for raising $1,000: You’ll be entered in a draw for a trip to Africa.

And you’ll be doing something good for others while you’re doing something great for yourself.