Monday, February 20, 2017

Hypothermic Half Marathon 2017, Race Report

photo credit, coach Tim MacKay

The coffee was hot.  
The smiles were lovely. 
The good-cheer overwhelmed. 
The hugs were warm.  
And did I mention the coffee?  
It was hot. 

These are the random observations of a nine time Winnipeg Hypo runner named Mike.

There were a few nasty puddles and the black ice along along Chancellor Matheson Drive was treacherous, but overall this year's Hypo was a grand success. This is the second year of the new Hypo course and it was a huge improvement from last year.

Last year I chose not to write about the event because it was distressingly poor. After years (decades) of successfully hosting the event at gorgeous Fort Whyte Centre it was moved to St. Norbert Community Club in South Winnipeg. Last year's event did not measure up to the previous standard in terms of overall enjoyment, food, and course. Not even close.  Runners voted with their feet and the traditional three waves were reduced to two waves, barely.  It did not bode well for the Hypo. 

Despite the freakish weather, this year's event was a remarkable improvement from 2016.  Race director Chris Walton and his merry crew listened and responded to the many suggestions from the running community. There was a new sense of professionalism in the air while last year it seemed amateurish.  

Here's a how I saw it... 
  • The new course is safer, more interesting, and much more 'runner friendly'.  There's still way too much side walk where runners get bunched up, but less so than last year. There is room for improvement here.
  • The police presence was outstanding while last year it was non-existent. The police presence is reassuring to runners and volunteers and adds to the professionalism.
  •  The volunteers were plentiful, and knowledgeable of running needs.  I recognized many stellar volunteers from or running community such as Bob and Julie Gold Steinberg, Junel Malapad, Rick Lecuyer, Oliver Valencia, Aldo Furlan, Gary Sutherland and many others.  These are dedicated runners who understand.  Their collective running experience is invaluable and their presence adds to the quality of the race. 
  • The pylons clearly delineated the running lane and kept us safe from oncoming traffic.
  • The City of Winnipeg was nudged into sanding the trail through King's Park at the last moment... and this is a significant feat! 
  • The results were posted within 24 hours.... not bad, but perhaps room for improvement.
  • The post-run food was way better this year and the coffee was hot (last year it was luke warm). Vegetarians and vegans would have been disappointed, but meat eaters were in heaven (do you really need sausage AND bacon?).
  • There were pace bunnies for all levels of runners ranging from TC to 1:50.  
  • The medal is cool and unique and the swag is practical (a backpack which I will donate to an inner city school).
Perhaps the best part of the Hypo is the training. The Hypo gives us a reason to get outdoors at 6PM in minus crazy temperatures with equally crazy windchills.  Eight weeks of training outdoors in dark winter conditions makes us strong and brings us together.  We run with other like minded 'crazies'. We develop incredible friendships and camaraderie.  We cheer novice runners until they feel part of the team.  We run outdoors when many are huddled around the warm glow of the television.  We have suckled heaven where others taste cinnamon buns and coffee. We are stronger in mind, body and spirit.

We are all that we can be.

Thank you Hypo, for this we are grateful.

I expect the Hypo will be back next year as it should.  It's a wonderful, mid-winter event that adds to the quality of our lives.  Winnipeg is a finer city because of the the Hypo and the many volunteers that turn the cranks and gears of community.  We are fortunate for this event and I wish the crew continued good success.

It's a good day to be alive.