March 11th. Definite signs of Spring abound. It’s been pouring rain in the East for a couple of days now — that’s Spring rain, not snow! Tweets and Facebook posts describe drenching training runs, and workouts so wet you could wring out your gloves and keep going.
The good news, is that Spring racing season is ALMOST upon us. Canada Running Series 2011 starts up next weekend on the majestic Stanley Park Seawall with Harry’s Spring Run Off 8k Vancouver. Also on March 20th, Reid Coolsaet and Dylan Wykes will be taking on the Yanks and an international field at the New York City Half marathon. Then it’s just two weeks to CRS Opening Day in the East at Harry’s Toronto in scenic High Park on April 2nd. Inbetween, there’s the marvellous tradition of Hamilton’s Around the Bay Road Race, staged since 1894, “Older than Boston”. Then it’s full tilt into April where everything seems to have converged on the April 17th/18th weekend for a racer’s feast: the SunRun with 50,000+ on the Start line in Vancouver, the National Half Marathon Championships at Banque Scotia 21K de Montreal, the Virgin London Marathon, and then Boston on Monday.
If you haven’t signed up already, you can still get into some of these top Canadian races. Harry’s 8K Vancouver still has a few hundred regular places available. Around the Bay is sold out, but has charity places available. And Harry’s Toronto has some 5K places left, and charity places in the 8K.
The other good news is that we don’t have to wait a day for some Spring racing action, with the exciting Gate River Run 15K in Jacksonville tomorrow [Saturday 12th] and the Achilles St.Patrick’s Day 5K in Toronto on Sunday. These early-season, March and early April races are really tune-ups, build up races, and early tests of fitness — marks of progress [or otherwise!] en route to some larger “goal” races in later April and May. It’s a chance to see how our fitness is coming along as an indicator of what’s in store — and ditto for the stars of the road running circuit. Who is showing good, early-season form?
Tomorrow’s Gate River Run 15K is the US 15K Championships — for the 18th year — but it has some strong Canadian content. For the American’s, returning champions Mo Trafeh and Jen Rhines will bothbe on hand to defend. You’ll recall they both had good outings at the US Half Marathon Championships on January 31st. Mo outkicked a returning Ryan Hall in a sprint to the line, and in almost similar fashion, Jen Rhines got away from Serena Burla to take the women’s title.
But as Canucks I’m sure we’ll be watching for the Athletics Toronto team. Megan Brown, Matt Loiselle, Andrew Smith and Lucas McAneny will all be racing. Megan has reportedly been doing some great workouts, on the road to taking her first serious effort at the half marathon distance, the pre-race favourite for the Canadian Half Championships in Montreal [April 17th]. She won comfortably in the bone-cracking cold at Robbie Burns 8K in Burlington in January. Now we’ll get to see her real progress in shorts and proper conditions. [There's more info on Megan in an earlier post]. How well is Andrew Smith’s comeback progressing? He had a solid outing at Hamilton Boxing Day 10 miler, but was 2 minutes behind Rob Watson. Matt is always tough in the 15K to 21K range. And insider reports suggest Lucas McAneny is progressing well in the BROOKS sub-group of Athletics Toronto.
We shall see! There’s a “LIVE” webcast on runnerspace.com starting at 8:25am tomorrow.
Closer to home, the Achilles St. Pats 5K in Toronto APPEARS to still have some places left for walk up registration. And I’ll be going to an 80th Birthday Party for Ed Whitlock tomorrow, if I can shake off the BAD dose of Montezuma’s Revenge I’m suffering today, after my trip to Lalalast weekend. NOT a good case of the runs! Okay, okay… too much information! See you at the races,
ps. Our thoughts, concerns and best wishes go out to all our Japanese racing friends and fellow runners. Who knows if the prestigious Nagoya Ladies Marathon will run this weekend or not? Life and running intersect…