Sunday, February 22, 2015

Hypothermic Half Marathon... Winnipeg style... Race Report

What's fina than a dina on Spadina?
A cup of steamed hot chocolate in a stunning Kathy Koop mug after 13.68 miles in -50.
I was at a the Hey Rosetta concert at the Burt on Saturday night when I received a text from a friend saying the Hypo Half Marathon had been shortened due to "extreme weather".

Extreme Weather? What the &%$ ...  of course it's extreme... this is Winnipeg in February! What are they thinking? Waiting for the bus is extreme! Why are they shortening the course?

And then I checked Environment Canada's forecast. Combined wind and temperature approaching -50 degrees Celsius.  Yup, this is extreme all right, even for hearty 'peggers.

Race Director Rachel Munday made the tough decision to shorten the route at about 6PM on Saturday evening.  Although disappointed, I saw clearly the wisdom in her action.  The risk to volunteers and novice runners is too high, dangerously high in fact. Rachel showed leadership under fire and is supported by 99.99% of the running community. To the 0.01%, for heaven's sake get a grip and give your head a shake!

The course started and finished at the Fort Whyte Centre and looped 4.5 miles through the gorgeous Fort Whyte grounds to Sterling Lyon Drive. Runners were given the option to run one loop, two loops, or three. This righteous runner chose option C, three loops, which coincidently, adds up to 13.5 miles (a Half and a bit). It was a genius solution because it allowed runners to self monitor their stamina and chill factor and exit the course at anyone of the loops. The volunteers were happy because they were not spread so thin. All in all, it was a most brilliant solution and a most perfect run.

The wind was not a factor in the confines of the bush, but on the open field (outbound) it tested our grit.  I wore goggles, a thermal toque, a face mask, and spread vaseline liberally on exposed skin and still the wind leaked into nooks and crannies in my layers. My exposed lower lip was in extreme discomfort. All I could do to prevent it from breaking off completely was hold a hand up over my face to block the wind. I asked one person to check to see if my face was still there. He replied, "Yea, kinda" and with that reassurance I forged ahead.

Vegetarian runners were well fed with a good selection of beans, grain, salad, yogurt and fruit. The meat eaters seemed to revel in the bacon and sausage of which there was an over abundance.  The coffee was fresh, hot, plentiful, and tasty. The food wastage was disappointing; all about were half eaten plates destined for the garbage.  Shame.

Approximately 540 runners were registered and about 440 started. The Timer person told me it's typical for about 10% of runners to not show on race day.  Today's turnout represents about 20% 'no-show' so I suppose numbers were a bit lower than previous years, but heck, that's to be expected in such conditions.

Go Jo, go!
I had the pleasure of marking the miles for the course yesterday and I gave my friend Jo lucky mile 13, Jo's Mile. I thought I would pass by it once and smile, but I passed it three times and it warmed my heart each time.  It was faded and wind blown, just like me, but it was there if you took the time to see.

It's good day to be alive all bundled up with rosy cheeks and dendrites dancing.

Mike
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