Sunday, May 31, 2009

Air Force Run, Race Report

Melissa on the tarmac.Bernice, John, Lorie
David
The start... speedy guys up front.
Mike, David, Melissa, Lorie at the port-a-potties. Click all photos to enlarge.
Reflecting with a cool amber beauty at my side and a bowl of the forbidden fruit,
Miss Vickie's on my lap (ummm, Miss Vickie... whisper sweetness into my ears... ummm). Yes, it IS indeed a good day to be alive. Here's my report, unedited and from the heart...the good, the bad and the what the?!
First the good.
Soldier On and The Military Family Resource Centre are two deserving recipients of the proceeds from this inaugural run. They do a tremendous job and both deserve all the accolades and cash that we can muster. These are good folks with noble objectives and I salute them both for the work they do. I encourage you to support them whenever the opportunity presents itself. Score... A++.
The fly-over was amazing and made this race unique from all others. It zoomed past at rocket speed with little time to pull out the camera. Nice touch! Score... A+.
The SARS demonstration was fun to watch and again, is unique to this race. Hopefully these two events will become a tradition. Score... A+.
Running on the tarmac amongst the planes and one dwarfed helicopter was a nice air force touch. It would have been better if the course went a little closer to the planes, but no biggy. Unique and tradition building. Score... B+
The family atmosphere was super. Lots of kids, mascots, smiles, and good cheer. Charisma abounded. Well done. Score A.
A reasonable number of port-a-potties for the crowd. No line-ups, all clean and tidy, and a couple of nice little hand-washing station. Score... A
The indoor facilities were great, lots of space in the gym to store your gear, stretch, and hangout away from the elements. Also, indoor washrooms is a huge plus for all runners. Score... A.
The Bad
The course was between 13.45 miles and 13.50 miles depending upon whose Garmin you checked. This is a huge no-no for any serious runner. A half-marathon is 13.1 miles, any deviation in distance is a significant disappointment for anyone hoping to achieve a personal best. I over heard one runner say she got a PB, but it was about 0.35 miles before the finish line. At an 8:41 average pace the extra 0.37 mile added about 3 minutes, 11 seconds to my time which would have given me a new PB of 1:53:46. Score... F.
That 1/2 mile gravel trail near the end has got to go. Nuff said. Score D
The medal is -sorry, there's no way around it-
chintzy. It's a simulated silver in colour, but looks more dirty grey than silver. It's a little bigger than a loonie (about the same weight) attached to a short red, white, and blue ribbon with a super chintzy gold clip. There's no writing or date, just the stylized shoe with wings and a Maple Leaf in the background. Sorry, doesn't make the cut. Score... C-.
The what the?!
Coffee. Where was the coffee? It was a cold race and more than one person was asking the
where abouts of the coffee pot. I'm not asking for Starbucks here, but heck, even a weak, over perked cuppa-military Joe would have hit the spot. The lack of coffee helped disperse the crowd to the closest Timmies. Coffee brings adults together, it warms the belly and kick-starts the energy. A post race must. Score... F
The food went pretty fast. I ran a sub-2 hour and by the time I arrived at the food tent there were slim-pickings. There was tonnes of fruit and yogurt which is a treat, but the bagels were long gone. No one was checking for bibs at the food line so it's possible non-runners were eating the food intended for runners. Juice and pancakes would have been great. Score... C
The half-way turn around point was a bit of a what the?! There was one lonely, although very friendly, volunteer directing us to turn around at this (she pointed) pylon. That was it. No crowd, no music, no cheering, no sign. This is where runners begin to fade. It would have been nice to mark that crucial spot with a little more oomph, a little
enthusiasm, some blaring music. Even rounding a flag would have been better than rounding a orange pylon. If it weren't for that great volunteer we would have lost a few runners in the field just beyond the pylon! Score... C.
The after-burn.
It's easy for me to sit here and critique the race from the comfort of my couch with Miss Vickie snuggling up alongside. Events like the Air Force Run take tremendous organization and the dedication of hundreds of volunteers. Yes, they made a few mistakes, which I'm sure will be corrected next time, but the community pulled it together and built a new race from the ground up. The organizers and race directors should be proud of their achievement. Well done!
By the way, not sure if you noticed Ted Swain's name on the confirmation list. I hope someone managed to run with his bib. It would have been fitting. Good old Ted, his spirit lives on.
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