Earth Hour Preparations for North America’s Oldest Road Race


It is a tradition that has now carried on for 121 years.  Hamilton Ontario’s, Around the Bay Road Race was started in 1894.  Established 3 years before the Boston Marathon, this 30 kilometer running race steeped in history has become a destination race drawing many runners throughout North America, but also from around the world.

Vintage picture from 1908, via http://www.cbc.ca/strombo/news/around-the-bay-race-120th

Starting line vintage picture from 1908, via http://www.cbc.ca/strombo/news/around-the-bay-race-120th

Only 4 weeks after completing my Chilly Half Marathon, I arrived at the very same hotel as before, just a different room .  Once again I played around with my layering system while watching The Weather Network.  But when 8:30 came around for Earth Hour, it was lights out.  I simply turned off the TV, turned off the lights and went to bed.  And this time I slept.

Extremely happy for the layering system chosen for the temperature and wind of the this run.

Extremely happy for the layering system chosen for the temperature and wind of the this run.

As I crawled under the covers, I was thinking what it must have been like for a runner 121 years ago.  Runners would have arrived by horse and buggy, or if it was a longer distance, by steam train.  Of course, there was no electronic distractions like we have nowadays. And when it got dark, runners would have simply gone to bed, just like I did that evening.

The starting corral of the 121st Around the Bay Road Race

The starting corral of the 121st Around the Bay Road Race

The next morning, as we were waiting in the starting corral for the horn to go, there was such a splash of color, from the high tech running apparel that went from the top of the head to the soles of the feet of all the runners.  What would it have been like 121 years ago?  How would they have dressed without all this breathable high tech dri-wear?  It was -6C to start, with a wind-chill that made it feel much, much colder that day.

Runners sharing the road with horses in 1907. Image via http://www.cbc.ca/strombo/news/around-the-bay-race-120th

Runners sharing the road with horses in 1907. Image via http://www.cbc.ca/strombo/news/around-the-bay-race-120th

I could not even hear the starting horn because of the wind, but when the pack started moving, I knew the race was on.  What a thrill to be taking part in such a historic event.  I started off in the pace area of 2:40 to 3:00 for the 30 kilometers, hoping that I could do this under 3 hours.  If I could, I would be more than extremely happy.  My 2 runner friends that I travelled to Hamilton with were soon gone and out of sight, I just kept running a pace I was comfortable with, but also thinking of what many runners have warned me of what lay ahead……the HILLS.

At about the 5 kilometer mark a lady started pacing alongside of me, and we started talking.  She was a veteran of this course, successfully completing The Around the Bay 15 times, and was on #16 that day.  I was so much in awe.  We got separated at the water station as many dozens of runners on the run would grab a Dixie cup of water or Gatorade and keep going.

I was disappointed that I lost my running partner, but kept going.  I knew I needed to learn to run without a companion to keep me going strong.  But a few kilometers along the course my new friend, came along to see how I was doing.  With close to 8,000 runners running the course, what were the chances?  But this happened 5 or 6 times.  As I started to fade around the 20k mark, and  as I headed into the hills, I thought my running friend was way ahead.  Then I discovered she had been just a few paces behind me for a couple of k’s, and as I faded, she slipped up beside me to give me much needed encouragement and strength.  She was sincerely looking out for me.

When I hit the 28k mark, what a sight to behold, First Ontario Centre, the stadium where we finish and a long, gradual downhill stretch for the next 2k’s.  Several runners who have completed this forewarned me to be extremely, careful entering the stadium.  Coming from a bright sunny day, you enter a very dark, steep ramp, and runners have been known to go flat on their faces.  Entering the ramp, I yanked off my sunglasses, felt the ground level out, went around a “S” turn and then straight into the coliseum towards the finish line. What an amazing feeling to complete this in such an grand atmosphere.  My time shocked me, a chip time of 2:51:38 for the 30k’s.  All credit due to my new friend.  She pulled strength out of me, I did not think I had.

Inside the coliseum looking down at the finish line.

Inside the coliseum looking down at the finish line.

I did not expect to see again the angel who kept appearing and encouraging me along the way.  Went along the refreshment tables, and there were the wonderful volunteers handing me items for my lunch, a banana, a juice box, and some other well received snacks.   The medal was then draped over my neck, and I proceeded to try and locate my 2 running friends I arrived with, who would have been waiting in the stadium.  Then I saw someone frantically waving in my direction.  It was my newest friend, the angel who kept appearing, disappearing and reappearing along the course.  She had been looking for me, and wanted to congratulate me. We met each other half way and embraced, a 16 time veteran and a 1 time novice, having just completed the oldest road race in North America.  If you ever happens to read this, thank you from the bottom of my heart for reaching out to me!   🙂

Thank you everyone for reading!  🙂

~Carl~

Honoring those who ran this race in years bygone. Photo taken in 1896 via http://www.cbc.ca/strombo/news/around-the-bay-race-120th

Honoring those who ran this race in years bygone. Photo taken in 1896 via http://www.cbc.ca/strombo/news/around-the-bay-race-120th

Finisher medal and running bib.

Categories: RunningTags: , ,

43 comments

  1. This is so interesting Carl! Congratulations on completing another race. My sister runs marathons frequently, and I admire you both for that. I love to walk, but I really have to work to run anything more than a 5K. It’s a goal of mine, and your posts have really inspired me.
    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for reading Paige. And so cool that your sister is a marathoner. Yes, even a 5k is intimidating. I only started running 2 years ago at 55, and that 1st 5k at the time seemed insurmountable . Then you complete it and aim for longer. It is amazing what our bodies are capable of. We are so fearfully and wonderfully made.
      Walking is also SO good for you. I do a bit of both. 🙂
      Blessings my friend,
      ~Carl~

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You write well. I felt your anticipation then I was in the race with you so to speak. If you wrote a novel with that connecting angel, publishers would say take it out, its too contrived – but real life turns up so many treats.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for taking the time to read, and coming along with me on the run.
      Yeah, I love the treats that real life would turn up. I am sure you would experience this 1st hand as well, during your walking adventure through Tasmania!
      Thanks for dropping by! 🙂
      ~Carl~

      Like

  3. Another fantastic example of the camaraderie and joy of running! Congrats to you, Carl, on a successful race! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow! Great job! I’m afraid of racing with you now – with a finishing time in the cold wind like that, you must be SO proud! Dare I say – you’re a bonafide Gazelle now? 🙂

    This was a great read – I meant to look up the Around The Bay race but didn’t get around to it. Maybe next year for me. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks you so much Fleck. Just completing would have made me happy, but yes my chip time I am very proud of. It is challenging, but has such a really great atmosphere, with a lot of people out cheering from the sidelines. And entering this stadium is such a neat feeling.

      You should do it my friend. I definitely want to do it again while I still can run. Don’t know if I can last 16 years like my new runner friend. I’d be 72 by then, and have to call myself “The REALLY Old Fellow Goes Running”. 🙂

      Thanks so much for stopping by to read and comment! 🙂

      ~Carl~

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great chip time Carl and great post. I enjoy finding new friends at races – either to be encouraged or to encourage. It makes it a great experience. Around the Bay is one of my favorites. Thanks for the little reminder of what it was like all those years ago. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much Jackie, for stopping by to read and sharing your kind comment. Absolutely love finding new friends! It was cool to know there are blogger friends who were also running the very same race. I will definitely be back another year.

      I have not been around my blog much this past week, but will be paying you a visit. 🙂

      ~Carl~

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  6. How interesting! Congratulations on your race! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. OH wow! You are really amazing at this marathon thing. You have that Canadian advantage– YOu were like, “Worst course ever-whatever–I got this!” 🙂 Great job! Reading this really makes me want to start running again!! Maybe I will!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much April. I feel very blessed and fortunate just to be able to run. This course does have a “reputation”. However the biggest hill was eliminated due to road construction, and the course rerouted. This I am very grateful. 🙂

      Also this time of year the weather is very unpredictable. In fact we got a bit of snow later that night, but for the race itself, glorious sunshine. 🙂

      So it was much better than it could have been, but I couldn’t help but smile when you mentioned, “that Canadian advantage.” If it there were an earthquake or hurricane, honestly April I’d be lost. Or swimming in the ocean where there is a possibility of sharks, I’d be a wimp….LOL. I think everybody is resilient when we need to be.

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. You are such a faithful blogging friend, and always so encouraging and witty. I do hope you are able to get out running again. 🙂

      ~Carl~

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  8. Another marathon! Congrats! What a cool historical perspective comparison! Loved it!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I loved seeing the older race photos with the new ones. Congrats on a race well done! And what an experience by having that lady look out for you. Runners can really be awesome people.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I loved learning about the history of this race (and the old photos). They certainly didn’t have all the cool gear that we have now. That is so cool to have some race support too, what a cool story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Angie, I was just about to go to bed, checked my e-mail, and saw you had commented. Am SO glad I checked.
      I love history myself, and am glad to have found some information and old photos. Technology can be pretty amazing, all I have to do is go to the internet for some research.
      Even in the past 40 years, since my high school days, there has such dramatic change in gear. It would be even be more profound, when it goes back well over a century.
      One thing that probably hasn’t changed over the years is support from other runners. Just LOVE when this happens.
      Thank you for taking the time to read and sharing your wonderful comment Angie. Hope all is well in Beautiful BC. Have a wonderful week, friend. 🙂
      ~Carl~

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Congratulations, on a race well run!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I love how you have a new “friend” encourage you with each race. Love hearing your stories.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much Amanda. I do say “Good Morning” to a LOT of runners mind you, but it ALWAYS seems to pay dividends. Be friendly, and you will make yourself a friend! 🙂
      I am rooting for you as you do your 1st half marathon next month. You are going to be awesome. 🙂
      Thank you for taking the time to read, and your wonderful comment! 🙂
      ~Carl~

      Like

  13. What a neat story, both the history of the race and your participation with that “Angel Lady” keeping you going! I run a bit but only 5ks here and there so you have my utmost respect. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Tricia for dropping by and taking the time to read and sharing your wonderful comment. It means a lot and keeps me going. 🙂
      Writing about the “Angel Lady” really brought a smile to my face, as I recollected from that day. So amazing how many times we crossed paths despite such a huge crowd.
      I really admire you for the fact that you also do some running. This is wonderful. Keep up the great work! 🙂
      ~Carl~

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Hi Carl. Thanks for visiting my blog and for the follow.

    I’m in awe of anyone who runs – it’s something I have never had much joy from, clumsy and uncoordinated as I am. I have, however, written a couple of blog posts where I’ve drawn parallels between running and writing (completing a novel can feel like a marathon at times).

    What struck me about this post of yours are the life-lessons – the hills, the weather conditions. The flagging energy. But then the encouragement in the form of your co-runnung angel who helped you hang on to your resolve and strengthened your resilience. And then the rewards … the final crowd, the snacks, the medal and being reunited with your encourager.

    I’m in the final stretch of my latest writing project. It’s been beset by setbacks recently, but your post has encouraged me to gird up my loins and complete the race 😀 So, I’m off to fire up my PC and, word by word by word, finish editing my manuscript.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Julia,

      You are welcome, my pleasure, and thank you for the return follow. 🙂

      I will definitely look up your blog posts with the running and writing parallels. It will have to wait until this evening, as I am soon off to work, but am really looking forward to it! If it like this beautifully written comment, I am really in for a treat! 🙂

      When it comes to writing a novel, I am SO much in awe of writers such as yourself. I do not know how you writers do it, as writing a blog post is a major endeavour for me. To me, writing a book is much more ambitious than a marathon. It is like running across maybe your country of England. Like impossible for me, so I really admire this in you.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read and share. I really LOVED how you summed up my 30k in those 3 lines. It is absolutely beautiful! THANK YOU! 😀

      ~Carl~

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Congratulations Carl! Wow, I had no idea the race was that old! It is impressive 🙂 I am happy for your time record and gosh, I can’t imagine to run in minus 6 temperature! I guess 100 years ago, the weather must be colder than nowadays 🙂

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    • Thanks so much Indah. Always wonderful to have you drop by. The -6C was not too bad, I guess because we were experiencing much colder temps just a few weeks ago and so -6C was very welcoming. And the sun was so glorious, which makes it feel much warmer. By the time my race ended around noon, it had gotten up to a balmy +3C. I have been so very fortunate. This was the 5th event I have completed, and each one has been very dry with no precipitation in rain or snow. I know sometime it will happen….LOL.
      Thank you for reading and commenting! 🙂

      Like

  16. Hi Carl,
    I’ve shared this on google+ twitter and facebook, it’s such a lovely story. Thanks to your encouragement I have taken up running (there’s even a record of my first run on my blog). I’m not going too far at the moment, but I’m trying to get out every other day. Looking foward to earing more of your running adventures.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Well done, Carl – and not only the race but also this fine account of it!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Congratulations on your fantastic time! I got the shivers thinking of the temperature and the wind. I think it’s fabulous that your angel kept appearing. As is often the case others are quick to encourage and support in such situations, even when they are perfect strangers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much Sue for dropping by to read and comment. You have such dedication to your readers, and I appreciate this so much.

      It was cold, but the bright sunshine makes such a HUGE difference. Very fortunate, just 3 weeks earlier we had some mornings still in the -20’s. I just had a base layer, an outer layer, and then my fave green vest for the bib that I had on during the full marathon last fall. You get sweating, then hit an open area where the wind hits you full blast. It would draw all the moisture away, but never got chilled. Was shocked at my time, as I don’t run with any timepieces. Was a really well organized event. Hoping to do it again! Thanks so much for the congrats! 🙂

      Like

  19. That’s what makes running so great – old friends…new friends.
    And again an awesome finish time. Congrats!

    Liked by 1 person

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