Another year, another running of North America’s oldest road race, Around the Bay. ATB (as runners know and love the race by) is notorious for its bad weather with it being in March and this year lived up to that legend, with wind of 20km and gusts up to 31km, I can attest to that!
This is was my first year back running ATB since 2014! Since then, I had lowered my pb’s in every distance and even raced my first marathon, so I was a lot less nervous about the distance than I was 3 years ago. I had hopes of placing well among the women, but you never know who will show up, so I also had a goal time in mind, 1:57- 2:00. My team, Grand River Endurance, had many members toeing the line as well and a few loyal members as our cheer squad.
GRE did a short 3km team warm up down the streets of Hamilton and somehow managed to get through the chaos that was FirstOntario Centre on ATB day. By chaos I mean squeezing 5,000 people in and out one set of doors to get to the race start and the same number of people all scrambling to use the bathrooms at the same time!
The gun was off at 9:30am and so started my battle (and everyone else’s) against mother nature. Like all runners, I compulsively checked the weather leading in to the race so I knew it was going to be windy. The first 7km was as if I was running in a wind tunnel and it didn’t help that I had no group to run with and was in “no man’s land.” I found a few guys from Windsor, my home away from home for University, and I ran with them for a few kilometres, but when I lost them I was there fighting the wind alone again. I stayed tough and focused on trying to reel in anyone who went out too hard and to catch back up to the guys I was running with from 10 on. An american women came up beside me around 12k and we worked together to catch that group and when we finally did it was great to converse about running and places we’ve lived to help take the mind off the other 15km we still had to run.
The sad part was, just about the ENTIRE race had a massive headwind other than from 22-26km however, if you’ve ever run the course, you’ll know that this is no help. As this is the sections where 4km of rolling hills are. GRE did many long runs this winter on the ATB to prep for these hills so I didn’t fear them. I just thought back to running all those workouts and worked through it. In no time, I was 5km from the finish and started to pick it up and make sure I could pass anyone who was dying.
I’ve never closed a race so consistent as I did this year’s ATB even with all the wind. So, I will walk away a much stronger runner especially for the 1/2 and marathon distance. I crossed the line in 1:59:00 and finished Top 10 women (9th). Remember I said I hadn’t run the race in 3 years? Well, that 1:59 gave me a 12minute pb! That’s right 12 minutes, that’s almost 3 kilometres worth!
While I have you, I’ll recap the rest of my team as well! On top of my top 10 finish we also had 3 men in the top 25!
My husband and partner in crime, Josh Bolton had a great race as well! He worked together with Aaron Cooper through the elements to finish 8th overall in 1:43:20 which was almost a minute and a half pb for him! He has run Around the Bay two times and both placed 12th so he was very happy to break the top 10 and PB on a tough day. His next race will be Race Roster 8km and look for him again at Montreal Half Marathon where he will crush it like last year!
Mitch Free is one of our smartest and most consistent runners on our team. At 39 years old, this guy gives a lot of young guns a run for their money with a 2:35 marathon pb from last year! At ATB he finished in 1:52:27 and 25th overall only 2 minutes off his 30k pb. He is very fit and was hoping to run faster but the wind in the first 10k as I described, was very challenging. He’s ready to roll some fast times this year including taking down that 2:35 at Mississauga Marathon in a just over a month!
Robert Brouillette also placed in the top 25! Actually top 15 for him. He ran 1:46:49 for the 30k and was close to his pb. He ran very well considering he is one of the youngest in that top 15. Rob also was stuck in the infamous “no man’s land” in the windy sections as well so he really noticed that headwind as well. He’s looking to run a fast marathon at Mississauga and go for that sub 2:30 as well as place well at Calgary Marathon as they are a month apart.
And one final shout out to our cheer squad Mike Bentley, Tyler Chacra and Mike Thornton who all have big goals for this year including Mike Thornton running the Boston Marathon for the first time! Thanks for the support out there boys, no great performance is possible without a team!
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