Harold’s Manitoba Half-Marathon

Race Report Contributor: Harold and Judy (via RunK2J Race Report Form)

Event Name / Date / Location : Manitoba Marathon / June 19, 2022 / Winnipeg, Manitoba

Synopsis: Hometown race for Harold while visiting family that happened to line up. There was a wide range of distances: 5K, 10K, 21.1K, 42.2K, and a 50K Ultra available. Oddly enough, the one scorching heat day lined up perfectly for race day. We both survived, and finished.

My Race Experience: It all started when I wanted to visit my family that I have not seen for 2.5 years, since C19 started. Found some cheap flights ($99) return on Flair airlines, direct Ottawa to Winnipeg Thursday, and returning direct on Sunday evening. Only one personal bag permitted (no carry-on): and this also became my 7.5kg packing challenge! After booking flights, realized a month later this event was on, so with everyone else at RunK2J just finishing some Epic run after the Winter/Spring clinics, thought I’d sign up for the 21.1. Judy also bought a flight, and needed a ‘long run’ to prep for IM Tremblant, so we both signed on for the 21.1.

Departing Ottawa was a breeze (thanks NEXUS), and pre-flight check in to random seats on the aircraft was simple. No bag check, and we were within our size/weight allowance (for the luggage). Arriving in Winnipeg with Judy, we zipped through the airport and were picked up by my sister to begin the Winnipeg reunions.

Friday morning, we arrived at a familiar University of Manitoba venue (I went to school there), and picked-up race kits. Efficient, and C19 safe with masks in the UofM Auditorium. Met the race director (Rachel) there too after pointing out some of the signage for the event was not correct (ie no shuttle services to start area in 2022). She was talking to Ian Fraser earlier this week to confirm the Canadian Race Director protocols for holding an event with ‘extreme heat’ when we made that connection!

We opted to cycle to the start line, and picked up 2 bikes from my brother (Rick) on Sunday morning at 5:45am, for a short 5K pleasant ride down dedicated bike path to UofM campus. Bike valet parking was available, and we checked bikes in, and made our way to the starting area. Lots of heat warnings were issued on Friday/Saturday, and the race was actively encouraging folks to downsize runs from Marathon or 50K Ultra to the 21.1K. The temperature at 6:30am was 26C, and the announcer reminded everyone this was not a PB type of day!

We barely made it to start area (Harold nostalgic tourist experience) before the 7:00am got underway, and Judy was off in the lead wave, with the marathon crew starting in parallel (two start lines). I was actually filming the start with my camera, and realized the starter was just letting all the waves through in order to allow everyone to run in the coolest part of the day. Pacing was simple for me, just ran long run mode, chatting with nearby runners for the first 5K. Found out about the ‘Beer Station’ that is always setup by the owner of a micro-brewery. Also met ‘Jan’ born in South Africa, now living in Regina, with an Epic beard -and wearing a 100 Marathons’ achievement jersey. He’s actually completed 134 Marathons, and I think I found Terry’s soulmate here!

Plodding through the course, we got to the riverside sections that had ample trees with shade – this was super great, as the heat continued to rise. Judy advised me to drink water at EVERY stop, and drink/dump water on my head or body to keep core temp down. I struggle in the heat, and it sure seemed to help. Ice was also available, though i fumbled badly putting this into my hat. Spectators with hoses were also out, and I must have run through 10 sprinklers along the way! My sister (Rita) and brother-in-law (Harry) also made it out onto the course, and were cheering us along at around the 8-9km mark: great to see them there!

For me, there were ample water stops – I think there must have been 6-7 along the course, and by 15K the heat was really setting in. The riverside run in the shade helped a lot, and I was also running through the part of the city I grew up in, so was super familiar with every stretch of road and the course layout. The final 4km were along Pembina Hwy, back to UofM, wide open in the sun, and a strong prairie headwind. With a damp jersey, this did aid in the cooling in the blazing sun, though the wind/heat also slowed the pace considerably. Susan’s mantra: everyone can run 4km danced through my head.

You can see the UofM Stadium from 2km away, so that was a great draw. Running onto the AstroTurf of the home of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers was a great way to finish, and the announcer was calling out names as you appeared on the Jumbo-Tron in the stadium and crossed the finish line. There were a few thousand folks in the shady parts of the stands, and recovery food/water was up on the concourse level in the windy breeze.

Not surprisingly, Judy was there already, and we both had popsicles and had some snacks relaxing in the stands. At this point, she mentioned to me the race was ‘cancelled’ due to the 30C temps at 10am (and climbing), while we were out there, though I saw no evidence of that. I think the longer distances were asked to take a shorter route back to the start, or snag a bus – though many continued to run and finish the 42.2 (including Jan).

We also found out that this also happened to be the Canadian Half-Marathon Championships, and Judy seemed to win her age group, and was awarded an additional medal. For me, first 21.1 in 25 years, so anything I managed to do was a ‘PB’ in my books, so happy with my finish time of 2:18:39 in the these conditions, with room to spare to improve on my next outing!

After collecting Judy’s additional hardware, we strolled over to the Bike Valet, and peddled back with a strong tailwind to my brothers place to return the car, and chill out. We noticed a lot of CBC articles over the next few days on what happened on race day – all slightly different. You definitely can’t believe what you read in these articles! Good call by Race Director to wind down the event mid-run.

Would you do this event again? Why? Sure, Harold would do this again, while visiting family in Winnipeg – maybe it won’t be scorching heat again! In 2022, happy to finish the run without mishap, and enough energy to enjoy rest of the day.

Would you recommend this event? Why? Well, if you like flat courses, this venue is the place to be! Good water stops and aid stations, and you get to finish in the new Winnipeg Stadium, home of the Blue Bombers, at the University of Manitoba.

Closing thoughts. Any hints for others planning to do this race? Where to stay? Things to bring? What to wear? In June, be prepared for anything. This year was exceptionally warm. Can also be cool/wet. Can also have hoards of mosquitoes. We’re on the Canadian Prairies folks, and it’s mid-June – anything is fair game.

Manitoba Marathon Info Stats

Overall Venue Rating: : 4 – Great: love stadium start & finish with Jumbo-Tron on Winnipeg Blue Bombers home field.

Rate the course: 3 – Good (for me, child-hood hometown course!)

Rate the aid stations: 3 – Good, fluids available, bring your own nutrition if needed.

What was provided at the aid stations?: First station at 5K, and second at 8-9K, then they started to appear every 3-4K. Volunteers did best to keep up with water demands on hot days, and I always got 2 cups (Judy sometimes only snagged one). Gatorade avail in 2nd half of the course.

How was the weather? : Stinking heatwave timed beautifully for race day! Started at 27C at 7:00am, and moved to 32C by 10am. The high for the day was 37C (~40C with humidex). Hottest day of year in Winnipeg to date in 2022.

Judy and Harold Footnote: Super fun to leverage Flair airlines for in-expensive flights, and would consider this approach for other races too! Running fees on par with costs of the return flights.

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